Student AIDS Educator

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Statistics say that five people die of AIDS every minute and nine people more are infected by HIV. One young woman was so concerned about this health crisis that she put her career plans on hold and now works to serve the uninsured. Reed Galin reports. [ESPAÑOL]

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(Locator: Tucson, Arizona)

Twenty-three-year-old Natalie Brown drives two hours from her home in Tucson, Arizona to Agua Prieta, Mexico.

Natalie Brown, HIV/AIDS Educator: “We’re approaching a border patrol checkpoint as we near the border.”

Ongoing violence along the border is no deterrent.

Natalie Brown: “We really need to live our lives not motivated by fear, but just to do the things that we feel that we’re called to do.”

Brown’s calling as an HIV/AIDS educator has brought her here to the Fuente de Vida y Amore United Methodist Church.

(Boy on exam table)

Volunteer: “Were going to give him a little medicine to help with the mucus.”

(Translated in Spanish)

A team of doctors and nurses from North Scottsdale United Methodist Church staffs the free clinic.

Brown, a recent college grad with a passion for community health, is the youngest member of the team.

Peggy Thornhill, Scottsdale United Methodist Church: “This is the age to start, because this is where you get the base experience.”

Natalie Brown: “I think it’s important that people of all ages get involved and I think that people far younger than 23 should start volunteering.”

Her inspiration is pastor Gela Lopez who runs the clinic. The feeling is mutual.

Gela Lopez, Pastor, Fuente de Vida y Amore United Methodist Church: “I’m very happy to share with Natalie this ministry.”

Brown’s interest in prevention was sparked by a trip to Tanzania, where almost a million people are living with AIDS.

At home, she develops AIDS education materials in Swahili to send to Africa and does one-on-one counseling with high-risk individuals in Arizona and Mexico.

Gela Lopez: “It’s very important, the program that she is teaching here.”

Natalie Brown to client: “Today I want to talk about HIV/AIDS.”

Gela Lopez: “In Mexico, many people don’t know what a big problem is AIDS.”

Client en espanol: “Can you get AIDS by kissing?”

Natalie Brown: “HIV can‘t be transmitted by kissing.”

Brown’s five- year plan includes a stint in the Peace Corps and returning to school for a Masters in Public Health, but for now she is continuing AIDS education efforts through AmeriCorps.

Natalie Brown: “I think I’m getting a lot out of these opportunities that I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life.”

Peggy Thornhill: “She’s been a tremendous help to us.”

Natalie Brown: “I learn and benefit as much or often far more than the people that I’m trying to serve.”


Natalie Brown works with eight charitable organizations in the Tucson area. You can contact Natalie through First United Methodist Church of Tucson at 520-622-6481.

For more information about the work of the Global AIDS Fund, contact

Posted: October 7, 2009