Patricia Drott, HIV/AIDS Liason to the Archdiocese of Chicago
Monday, October 01, 2012 by Monsignor Michael M. Boland

Patricia Drott is a woman with a major mission—a mission about which she is passionate. As the Catholic Charities HIV/AIDS Liaison to the Archdiocese of Chicago she wears many hats. She is a resource person to the parishes in the Archdiocese, to various Offices in the Archdiocese, to the departments and staff of Catholic Charities, and to the Cardinal.

Formerly a full-time faculty member in the Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola University Chicago, she is a Master’s-prepared Registered Nurse whose specialty is Community Health Nursing, and whose area of interest is Infectious Diseases. In this position for the past nine years, she carries out a variety of activities in order to fulfill the Mission of her ministry which is to provide leadership and direction in ministry to persons living with HIV/AIDS and those affected by it. She works two days a week, and her role emphasizes education and outreach throughout the Archdiocese in her efforts to educate about HIV/AIDS, to combat the stigma and discrimination which still accompany the disease, and to encourage a compassionate response to all.

In this capacity, Pat co-chairs the Catholic Charities HIV/AIDS Task Force for the Archdiocese and the Catholic Charities HIV/AIDS Program Services Advisory Committee. The Task Force is composed of 12 members from different areas of expertise and advocacy in the area of HIV/AIDS services and ministry. Representatives include the Archdiocesan Office for Councils and the Office for Catholic Schools; Catholic clergy, chaplains and deacons; physicians and nurses; the Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry; and Catholic Charities staff. This group meets to share ideas and to plan and implement strategies to fulfill the Mission. The HIV/AIDS Program Advisory Committee is a group made up of our clients living with HIV/AIDS and Catholic Charities Case Management staff, and is led by a member of our Board of Advisors. They meet to share and discuss issues of concern in the service areas and work together to continually improve service.

In addition to these two committees, as a Task Force project, Pat developed and maintains the Catholic Charities HIV/AIDS Services and Ministry web site; prepares timely announcements related to varied topics such as World AIDS Day or HIV Awareness Days, which are sent to the parishes for their bulletins; provides educational and outreach presentations for groups such as Departments in the Archdiocese, Seminarian groups, the Diaconate Community, Catholic Charities’ departments and programs; and has made presentations at the annual Archdiocesan Leadership Day. She also coordinates HIV screening at the Catholic Charities summer Health Fairs at local parishes.

Another area of activity involves World AIDS Day which is observed on December 1 in over 150 countries worldwide. She has planned and facilitated interfaith prayer services and collaborated on other observances in the Archdiocese. In cooperation with the Office for Catholic Schools, she initiated a Poster/Poetry contest for World AIDS Day, open to students in all of the Archdiocesan elementary and secondary schools, around the theme of “HIV: It’s About You and Me.”

Pat collaborates with Catholic Charities Volunteer Services for Team Catholic Charities in the annual AIDS Foundation of Chicago Walk/Run and has been a participant and fundraiser for the past nine years. She has also developed educational media and literature such as DVDs, brochures and handouts (English and Spanish), which are widely distributed to spread the word about her mission. She is an active collaborator with various other local agencies which provide HIV/AIDS Services.

Pat consistently asks the questions: “What do you know about HIV/AIDS?” and “What can you do about it?” There is no cure for HIV/AIDS; the disease will not go away. While education and awareness regarding HIV/AIDS has increased over the 30 years since it was first recognized, it is vitally important to educate ourselves and our families about the disease and the issues which are part of it. Preventing AIDS is a challenge which we cannot ignore. We can consider getting tested for HIV at the time of other ordinary health encounters. Understanding HIV/AIDS can help us to respond with intelligence and compassion instead of fear.

Our lives and our health, spiritual and physical, are God’s gift to us. These gifts hold each of us personally responsible for our health and the health of others. By better understanding HIV/AIDS we can help to decrease the hurtful stigma; we can pray; we can volunteer to help our neighbors; we can participate in HIV/AIDS education and awareness activities in our own communities and parishes.

Compassion, hope and understanding drive all of Catholic Charities’ services to people, including our neighbors affected by HIV/AIDS. At Catholic Charities, our love for God and our concern for all of our neighbors are expressed in hundreds of ways in programs that inform, heal, feed, clothe and serve our neighbors. Thank you for your involvement, prayers and support in the works of charity. May God bless you and your families.

October 15th, 2012 is National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

December 1, 2012 is World AIDS Day

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