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Global AIDS Walks

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

Global AIDS Walks began as an innovative program to combat the spreading HIV/AIDS pandemic among youth.[1]

It was officially begun in 1998 by Dr. John B. Chittick (Ed.D.),[2] a former Harvard lecturer on AIDS vulnerabilities of youth and women.[3] Chittick designed his series of AIDS Walks to educate teens at the grassroots level. He serves as the founder and executive director of the 501(c)(3) non-profit TeenAIDS-PeerCorps (TA-PC).[4] He is known to young people simply as “Dr. John.”[5]

File:TeenAIDS-PeerCorps Logo.jpg
TeenAIDS-PeerCorps Logo

The purpose of the Walks is to share best practices pertaining to youth HIV prevention, and build a network of volunteers trained to educate their friends, called “PeerCorps.”[6] When Chittick presented his Harvard doctoral research at the 1994 International AIDS Conference in Yokohama, Japan,[7] he was one of a handful of international researchers focusing on adolescent issues because most attention was concentrated on assisting the original high-risk populations and finding medical solutions.[8]

The Beginning[edit]

Unofficially, the pilot program for the Global AIDS Walks began in 1992 while Chittick was working on his thesis, “Adolescents and AIDS: The Third Wave” (1994).[9] In 1992 and 1993 Chittick visited the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Canada to test his hypothesis that young people were eager to hear the unadulterated facts to prevent HIV.[10] He predicted that a growing yet largely unnoticed pandemic would become apparent, at a time when few studies suggested that youths were at risk. AIDS pioneer Dr. Jonathan Mann, first head of WHO’s Global Program on AIDS[11] and a Harvard mentor, arranged Chittick’s paid attendance at the Yokohama Conference so that he could share his youth prevention research.[12]

Dr. Mann also recommended Chittick for his initial overseas assignment to Vietnam sponsored by the Japanese foundation “World Environment and Peace” (WEP).[13] During this work period, he helped the HoChiMinh City AIDS Committee organize a major youth campaign in Vietnam’s largest city. Chittick was able to put his training methods into practice building a large network of PeerCorps volunteers in and around Saigon.[14] He called his direct grassroots outreach “AIDS Attacks” because youths were surprised when he personally approached them with HIV prevention information.[15]

In 1998, Chittick announced he was undertaking a “Journey of a Lifetime,” the precursor to the Global AIDS Walks.[16] Since then, he has visited 88 countries through 2014 (see list attached). His international, educational mission is unique in the history of AIDS.[17] It has caught the attention of the public and media.[18]

Dr. John receives numerous invitations from youths requesting visits to their countries. In South Korea, a high school student was persistent in his invitation. As a result, Chittick received official support from the Korean Federation for AIDS Prevention.[19] He was invited to Jordan by the Ministries of Health and Education in large part because King Abdullah II had also attended the same prep school, Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts.[20]

How the Walks are Conducted[edit]

Dr. John travels with his ubiquitous business cards that are printed in each indigenous language and cover the most salient, medically accurate points on how to avoid transmission.[21] It was young Vietnamese volunteers that suggested he modify his business cards for youths to read and tuck in their pockets to avoid carrying brochures that could be problematic for adults in their lives.

Chittick encourages young people to videotape and photograph his global outreach and many of these excerpts are carried on the TeenAIDS’ YouTube channel and are available in the short film, “Global Walk of Dr. John.”[22] In Vietnam, urban PeerCorps volunteers conducted rural AIDS Attacks using motorbike brigades. This method has been replicated in other nations using public and private transportation to move about.

Dr. John speaking to young teens in rural Ghana

Dr. John usually visits countries with a planned itinerary made with official government and NGO contacts.[23] However, when entering as a tourist, he gets off the plane, bus or train and introduces himself to young people with: “Hi, I’m Dr. John and I have information that will save your best friend’s life. Do you want to hear?”[24] This unorthodox and personal approach is a psychological hook and has led to many chance meetings that are both spontaneous and serendipitous. He volunteers his time, talent, and in many cases, his own money[25] to start new youth programs overseas. He sometimes travels with college interns who assist in training teens.[26] In some countries, he has spent months; in others weeks, depending on requests for help and his resources.

His ultimate goal is to reach and train 400,000 youth in 100 countries on all 6 continents in 2016 when he reaches 68.[27] A number of former PeerCorps volunteers have gone on to take leadership roles in TA-PC including the current board president who is from both Massachusetts and the Dominican Republic.

Dr. John is a most unlikely person to be doing extensive overseas travel that takes him into tough urban slums and remote rural outposts because he has heart disease (a quadruple bypass in 1995), a long history of diabetes, and other significant health complications.[28] He is overweight and one article referred to his story as “Fat Man Walking.”[29] Most youths describe him as jolly, friendly, and funny but deadly serious about the need to prevent HIV.[30] Dr. John prefers wearing bright Hawaiian shirts in his daily work and interactions with both teens or with government officials.[31]


He sends personalized postcards from the road to his contributors in appreciation for their tax-deductible donations because a picture is worth 1000 words. TA-PC chooses not to take taxpayer dollars because too often these monies come with onerous strings attached. He chooses not to promote abstinence-only education favored by many governments and adult institutions because it is not based on the current reality of young people’s lives. Most all studies show the majority begins sexual experimentation in their teens.[32] The TA-PC Mission Statement emphasizes, “It is the human right of all maturing adolescents to have the medically accurate facts to prevent HIV that cannot be denied them.”[33]

There have been some complications when traveling including an arrest in Cuba that U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy’s office resolved with the help of the Swiss Embassy.[34] In southern China, his business cards were confiscated;[35] in the Congo DR and Nigeria bribes had to be paid to release volunteers from police custody on trumped up charges.[36] There was a kidnapping threat in Colombia after Chittick appeared on TV; and in Belarus and eastern Ukraine, his movements were shadowed by state police.[37]

Countries visited on the Global AIDS Walks 1992-2014[edit]

Between 1992 and the end of 2014, Dr. Chittick has traveled to 88 countries, the first such accomplishment in the history of AIDS. He welcomes invitations from youth, NGO’s and government ministries who want the latest youth HIV prevention and trainings. He provides his services for free, but needs assistants with in-country transportation, young translators and guides, complimentary or inexpensive lodging, and visa invitations.


Bosnia/HerzegovinaBrazilBulgariaBurkina FasoBurma (Myanmar)Cambodia

CanadaChinaColombiaCongo (DRC)Costa RicaCroatiaCubaCyprus

Czech RepublicDominican RepublicEl SalvadorEgyptFranceFrench Guiana

GermanyGhanaGreeceGuatemalaGuyanaHaitiHondurasHong Kong

HungaryIndiaIndonesiaIsraelItalyIvory CoastJapanJordan




SlovakiaSloveniaSouth AfricaSouth KoreaSpainSudanSuriname

SwitzerlandSyriaThailandTogoTrinidad & TobagoTunisiaTurkey

UgandaUkraineUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayVatican City



  1. "Preventing HIV". United Nations Population Fund. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  2. Cox, Christopher (Dec 21, 1998). “Steps to prevention - Beacon Hill man goes on worldwide walk to warn teens and inform with facts about AIDS”. The Boston Herald. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  3. A Day in the Life of Dr. John Chittick (August 30, 2013). IAS. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  4. (2014) ”About Us”. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  5. Kennington, Carrie (December 6, 2001). “AIDS campaigner takes message to Utah teens Schools, parents reluctant to offer time and access”. Deseret News. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  6. “TeenAIDS-PeerCorps, Inc.”. Catalog for Philanthropy. Catalog for Philanthropy. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  7. Chittick, John (1994). Adolescents and AIDS: the Third Wave: a Report on HIV/AIDS Programs at the High School Level. Harvard Graduate School of Education. p. 1348.
  8. Law, Angela (Feb 21, 2001). "Aiding the Globe". The Daily Free Press. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  9. Chittick, op. cit., p.1
  10. Aizpun, Ines (December 5, 1993). “Sida La Tercera Generacion Acabara con Adolescentes”. Ultima Hora (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic). Allen, Carla (May 13, 2005). “World Traveller visits Yarmouth Schools to spread ABC’s of AIDS." The Van Guard (Yarmouth, Nova Scotia) p. 4
  11. Cho, David (February 8, 1999). “He’ll Walk The Earth to Blaze a Trail of AIDS Education”. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 5 August 2014
  12. Law, op. cit., p.1
  13. “The Threat of HIV/AIDS on Viet Nam’s Youth: Meeting the Challenge of Prevention A Report on the 1996 Viet Nam Youth Union Conference”. Hepatitis and AIDS Research Trust Website. Retrieved 5 August 2014
  14. (February 20, 2000) “Vietnam Activist Starts Worldwide AIDS Walk in VN” Vietnam News. (HCHC)
  15. Baker, Billy (November 3, 2008). “He Walks the World, Talks AIDS with Teens”. The Boston Globe. Retrieved 5 August 2014
  16. Cho, op. cit., p.1
  17. Scott, Lucille (June 2004). "International Male". POZ: Health, Life & HIV. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  18. "Detained, Harassed & Arrested Trying to Save Lives". Fox 25 Boston. February 1, 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2013. Sharp, Rhod (December 1, 2010) “World AIDS Day Interview” FiveLive, BBC Radio. London
  19. (2014). “Introduction”. Korea Federation for HIV/AIDS Prevention. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  20. Beyond the Valley: Deerfield, MA: Deerfield Academy Press. 2001. pp. 90-92. ISBN 978-0-9755758-9-9.
  21. Baker, op.cit. p.1
  22. [TeenAIDSPeerCorps] (2012, April 25). “Global Walk of Dr. John”. Retrieved from
  23. Baker, op.cit. p.1
  24. Ibid., p.1
  25. “International AIDS Activist Takes Final Steps in 5-Year Global Walk”. Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire. February 1, 2004. Retrieved 5 August 2014
  26. Newesome, Cherise M. (June 13, 2011). “The Locals Warned John Chittick Not to Venture Into the Cite Soleil”. The Virginian-Pilot.
  27. Sharp, op. cit., p.1
  28. Cho, op. cit., p.1
  29. “Fat Man Walking: Harvard Expert Saves Lives”. StayClassy. Retrieved 5 August 2014
  30. Ibid. p.1
  31. Ibid. p.1
  32. (June 12, 2014) “Sexual Risk Behavior: HIV,STD, & Teen Pregnancy Prevention” Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  33. “Mission Statement”. TeenAIDS-PeerCorps Website. TeenAIDS-PeerCorps. Retrieved 5 August 2014
  34. Abbot, Matthew (November 2, 2005) “John Chittick ‘70 discusses AIDS dangers at Phi Delt” The Dartmouth. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  35. Ibid. p.1
  36. Newesome, op. cit., p.1
  37. Detained, Harassed & Arrested Trying to Save Lives, op. cit, p.1

Global AIDS Walks

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