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Public Health Epidemiology Conversations Podcast

Episode #236 HIV Prevention and Epidemiology, With Courtney Allen, MPH

On This Episode Of The Public Health Epidemiology Conversations (PHEC) Podcast

Welcome back to our series on Tribal Epidemiology Centers and Public Health! In this episode, you’ll meet Courtney Allen, MPH, CHES, whose primary focus for the majority of her working career has been HIV prevention and awareness. She currently holds the position of Public Health Advisor (PHAP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Tribal Epidemiology Center, where she helps the community acquire funding for HIV prevention, as well as conducting surveillance reports, and other tasks. We discuss Courtney’s work at the Arizona Tribal Epidemiology Center and the various ways that they are working to end the HIV epidemic in their communities. Tuning in, you'll hear Courtney describe how stigma, distrust, and the presence of a pre-established HIV prevention program informs how communities respond to interventions and initiatives. Next, we unpack some of the ways that they are working to make HIV testing more anonymous and accessible through initiatives like the ‘I want a kit’ project, and why it’s so beneficial in the fight against this epidemic. Courtney also shares an example of why a working knowledge of epidemiology is beneficial to anyone working in public health, along with some inspiring words of advice on why you should never sell yourself short. Tune in for a wonderful and insightful conversation on Tribal Epidemiology Centers, a career in public health, and community!

Meet Courtney Allen

Courtney Allen, MPH, CHES was born and raised in Kennesaw, GA. She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University in Public Health and her Master’s in Public Health degree from Mercer University. She has worked for one of Georgia’s Public Health Districts specializing in Chronic Disease prevention as a Health Educator. The majority of Ms. Allen’s work experience is in HIV prevention. She has served as a Prevention Specialist at two major nonprofit agencies in Atlanta. She now resides in Phoenix, AZ, and is a Public Health Associate for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., Tribal Epidemiology Center host site.

Listen To This Episode Of The Public Health Epidemiology Conversations (PHEC) Podcast

Conversation Highlights

  • Introducing today’s guest, Courtney Allen, for our continuing series on Tribal Epidemiology centers (TECH).

  • Courtney’s current role at the CDC, and the HIV prevention work that she's doing at the Arizona Tribal Epidemiology Center.

  • How Courtney first became aware of Public Health as a potential career during college.

  • The work that Courtney is doing with the Indian Health Services agency to end the HIV epidemic in their communities.

  • How existing structures around HIV awareness and prevention, and widespread stigma, affect the way that communities respond to outside intervention.

  • The ‘I want a kit’ project, and how it makes HIV testing more accessible and anonymous.

  • The Arizona Tribal Epidemiology Center and some of the ways they are supporting communities in their area.

  • Insights into the projects, issues, and public health areas that the Arizona Tribal Epidemiology Center is focusing on.

  • Why epidemiology is important in the work that Courtney does and in the communities she serves.

  • How knowledge of epidemiology helped Courtney and her colleague identify correlations in changing statistics in STD and HIV transmission, with the more widespread adoption of PrEP.

  • Some of Courtney’s tips for anyone considering a career in public health.

  • A summary of the Public Health Associate program and why it’s especially helpful to recent graduates who are unsure about what direction they want to take next.

  • Some of the places you can look to for mentors, connections, and resources.

Courtney's Career Advice To Public Health Students and Graduates

“Never sell yourself short if you think you can't do it, just apply. The worst thing they can say is ‘no’. At least you have the opportunity and you have that experience that you actually did try.” — Courtney Allen

Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA)

I’d like to tell you more about The ITCA. The center values trust, service, and integrity above all else.

They provide responsive, confidential, reliable, practical, high-quality professional epidemiologic services and products that address current and future public health challenges among tribal nations.

They do this by promoting tribal self-determination, partnerships, innovation, resourcefulness, accountability, and sustainability.

Their goal is to support the Tribes on their path to health equity and self-sufficiency.

The ITCA’s purpose is to build tribally-driven public health and epidemiologic capacity among tribes in the Phoenix and Tucson Indian Health Service Areas in order to improve American Indian health and wellness.

Tribal Epidemiology Centers

Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TEC) are Indian Health Service (IHS), division funded organizations who serve American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Tribal and urban communities by managing public health information systems, investigating diseases of concern, managing disease prevention and control programs, responding to public health emergencies, and coordinating these activities with other public health authorities.

Tribal Epidemiology Centers provide various types of support and services due to the variation of the TECs organization structure, divisions, Tribal populations, and their mission and goals. There are currently 12 Tribal Epidemiology Centers in the United States.

Each month, one of the Tribal Epidemiology Centers will be featured here on the podcast. The purpose is to raise awareness throughout the public health community of the amazing and important public health work that is being done at each of the centers.

In this episode, we will feature the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona.

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