John Chittick

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John Chittick
Dr. John Chittick.jpg
Born February 27, 1948
Fitchburg, Massachusetts
Died April 5, 2017(2017-04-05) (aged 69)
Ifalik, Micronesia
Occupation Youth HIV/AIDS Expert and Activist

John Chittick (February 27, 1948 – April 5, 2017) was a youth HIV/AIDS specialist known for his series of Global AIDS Walks to fight the spread of HIV by educating youth.[1] He worked in over 85 countries providing outreach to young people at the grassroots level.[2]

A former lecturer on AIDS at Harvard School of Public Health, he spoke about adolescent HIV/AIDS nationally and internationally at conferences.[3] He was the executive director and founder of TeenAIDS-PeerCorps, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth AIDS advocacy organization with its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. His latest initiative was conducting live public HIV testing of youth in the U.S. in order to end the stigma of AIDS among young people.[4] He was known to youth as "Dr. John."[5]

Chittick died on April 5, 2017 in Ifalik, Micronesia at the age of 69.[6]

Education and early life[edit]

Chittick was born and raised in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.[1][7] As a teenager he attended Applewild School (1963)[8] and Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts (1966).[9] He went to Austria as an exchange student[10] before attending Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he earned his B.A. in History and Government[11][12] In 1980 he obtained a M.S. in Visual Studies from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts,[13] where he also taught an experimental film course.[14]

Chittick went on to the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, earning his second Master's, which focused on a model for HIV education and the efficacy of school prevention programs.[1] He then received his doctorate (Ed.D.) from Harvard in Education and Human Psychology in 1994.[1] His 550-page doctoral thesis, titled "Adolescents and AIDS: the Third Wave" predicted a youth pandemic of youth HIV/AIDS,[15] and included interviews with many leading experts in the field at the time.[16]

Dr. John speaking with African women and boys

Prior to starting work in youth HIV/AIDS education, Chittick was active in politics in his hometown of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. In 1969, when the legal voting age was 21, Chittick became the youngest elected official in Massachusetts when he won a seat on the Fitchburg City Council at 21.[17] Two years later he ran for mayor of Fitchburg and came in second out of a field of six candidates.[18] He served as the director of Friendship Village, a community center for disadvantaged children.[19]

Chittick moved to Boise, Idaho where he worked as a Governor's Intern at the Public Utilities Commission. He then spent two years living on remote islands in the South Pacific starting in 1975.[20] While there, he conducted ethnographic research that was later reported to Harvard University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in a publication that included Chittick's original drawings of cultural artifacts.[21]

In the mid-80s, Chittick started an art publishing company called Paté Poste Adcards in Boston's Beacon Hill that became one of New England's largest postcard companies and was known for its work with galleries using the first recycled card stock.[9] He was the publisher of the "Artists Resource Guide to New England: Galleries, Grants, and Services" in 1988.[22] He also was the owner of a contemporary art gallery called a.k.a. Skylight Gallery on historic Charles Street that occasionally featured exhibits of HIV-positive artists.[23] Chittick sold Paté Poste in December 1992 to devote himself full-time to finish his studies at Harvard, receiving his doctorate in June 1994.[1]

Career in Youth HIV/AIDS[edit]

Chittick first became aware of AIDS in the 1980s[24] when media reports focused on the immunological disease that caught the world's attention.[25] He changed his focus at Harvard to the rising risk of adolescents to AIDS and the need for more effective, age-appropriate prevention information. In his doctoral thesis, he predicted a future HIV epidemic among maturing teens that engage in unprotected sex and lack medically accurate knowledge, often because of censorship.[16] Dr. Chittick began his first AIDS speaking at the 1992 World AIDS Day Commemoration in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.[26] He next presented original research on youth vulnerability at the 1993 National HIV/AIDS Update Conference in San Francisco. Upon completion of his doctorate in 1994, Dr. Chittick presented his research at the 10th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference in Yokohama, Japan.[27]

Under Chittick's leadership TA-PC established one of the first websites that targeted teens on HIV prevention in the mid-1990s.[1] He lectured on HIV issues at Harvard School of Public Health's François-Xavier Bagnoud Center under his mentor and AIDS pioneer, Dr. Jonathan Mann.[28] One of Chittick’s first work assignments abroad was in Vietnam in 1995, where he coordinated the government's youth AIDS prevention campaign (Stop SIDA) in HoChiMinh City sponsored by the Japanese NGO World Environment and Peace,[29] and authored a book, "Coming Wave of AIDS in Vietnam."[30]

He established TeenAIDS-PeerCorps (also known as TeenAIDS and TA-PC) in 1994)and registered it as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1997.[31] He promoted the idea of a global network of trained youth volunteers to spread the message of HIV prevention to their peers, hence the name PeerCorps,[32] which was registered as a service mark in 1997.

Chittick announced in 1998 that he was leaving behind his home and office in Boston to undertake his first Global AIDS Walks.[33] Chittick developed a method of street outreach he termed "AIDS Attacks" in which he approaches young people directly, gives them a business card with information on HIV/AIDS written in their native language and tells them that the information could "save their best friend's life".[1] In some countries, however, Chittick's tactics proved controversial where public discussion of the sexual transmission of AIDS was not permitted by governments.[34] Chittick has thus far been to over 85 countries and educated an estimated 300,000 young people.[35]

Chittick’s incorporated new technologies and social media be used to spread HIV/AIDS awareness to teens. In 2006, Chittick and TA-PC launched the first-ever interactive global webcast for teens by satellite uplink on World AIDS Day that attracted young people from 80 countries. The webcasts allowed teens to connect with peer educators trained by Chittick and TeenAIDS-PeerCorps and share facts about the risk of HIV/AIDS.[36] The webcasts have become a regular part of TA-PC’s outreach and have since been conducted from a variety of locations, including Harvard's Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts [37] and in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[38]

Dr. John speaking with Uruguayan boys

In 2012 HIV home test-kits were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over-the-counter sale[39][40] and Chittick began to conduct live oral swab testing at public venues.[41] Live testing has been held in parks, malls and on street corners, wherever teens gather, to both reduce the stigma surrounding AIDS and let young people know that the HIV self-testing kits are available. Chittick was always present at testing events to counsel youth and supervise TA-PC's college interns called “Teen-Testers" that help assist the twenty-minute procedure.[42] Positive results are never publicly released because false readings are possible. However, most youth choose to publicize negative results in front of peers, media and via social networking.[43] The first major public testing of youth was held on April 7, 2013 in front of a large audience in Virginia Beach, Virginia that was covered by local TV.[41]

Initially, the public aspect of the testing did not sit well with some local authorities in southeastern Virginia, but Chittick argued it was protected under freedom of speech.[42] After a formal complaint was lodged with the state's Attorney General, TA-PC was allowed to continue on the legal basis it was the right of all consenting youths to choose when and where they are tested.[44] TeenAIDS-PeerCorps now conducts testing in an expanding national campaign that began in Virginia,[45] North Carolina,[46] Washington, D.C.,[47] Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. On September 7, 2013, TeenAIDS and Chittick set the first world record for simultaneously testing the most number of youth in front of a public audience and the press.[48] Chittick urged that groups everywhere continue to break the record so more young people become aware of their status and stop the further spread of HIV.[49]

Dr. John in Romanian fields

Chittick moved the organization's headquarters in 2010 from Fitchburg, Massachusetts to Norfolk, Virginia, home to the world's largest naval base.[50] He chose the location because Norfolk ranks at the top for HIV/AIDS in the state and needed aggressive educational outreach where youth are at increasing risk.[51] The all-volunteer staff consists of college interns from 15 regional universities and many naval volunteers.[52] Former PeerCorps volunteers run operations globally via Skype and social media while some serve on the Board of Directors.

Associations and Memberships[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Baker, Billy (Nov 3, 2008). "He Walks the World, Talks AIDS with Teens". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "Webathon Supports Teen AIDS Outreach". Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise. Dec 2, 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Scott, Lucille (June 2004). "International Male". Poz: Health, Life & HIV. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "TeenAIDS-PeerCorps offering free HIV tests Friday". 
  5. ^ Kennington, Carrie (December 6, 2001). "AIDS campaigner takes message to Utah teens Schools, parents reluctant to offer time and access". Deseret News. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Local activist Chittick dies at 69
  7. ^ "Tower". Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise. Oct 1, 1962. p. 11. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "John Chittick '63: Laverick Award Recipient 2002". Applewild School Website. Applewild School. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Beyond the Valley. Deerfield, MA: Deerfield Academy Press. 2001. pp. 90–92. OCLC 923832046. 
  10. ^ "John B. Chittick to Take Part in International Program". Fitchburg Sentinel. January 12, 1966. 
  11. ^ Abbott, Matthew (November 2, 2005). "John Chittick '70 discusses AIDS dangers at Phi Delt". The Dartmouth. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  12. ^ "Dartmouth College Citations". TeenAIDS-PeerCorps website. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "MIT Media Lab Alumni". MIT Media Lab. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "Richard Leacock's Letter to John B. Chittick". Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ a b Walsh, Bernadette (June 1994). "Adolescents and AIDS: the Third Wave". Harvard Graduate School of Education Alumni Bulletin. 38 (3). 
  17. ^ Horgan, Edward R. (Nov 5, 1969). "All Incumbents Are Re-Elected, Neophytes Chittick, Barone Win". Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise. 
  18. ^ "It's Blackwell and Chittick for Mayor". Fitchburg Sentinel. Oct 6, 1971. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  19. ^ Horgan, Edward R. (Jan 2, 1971). "Around City Hall with Horgan". Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise. p. 4. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  20. ^ Courtemanche, Dolores (July 3, 1983). "Political Hopefuls of Yesteryear". Worcester Sunday Telegram. p. 4. 
  21. ^ Chittick, John B. (198?). Commentary and sketches of Micronesian exhibited objects at the Peabody Museum. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.  Check date values in: |year= (help)
  22. ^ Csapó, Rita Marika; John B. Chittick (1988). The 1988 Artists Resource Guide to New England: Galleries, Grants, Services. Boston, MA: Paté Poste, Inc. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  23. ^ Elizabeth C. Baker, ed. (1991). Art in America 91/92 Annual Guide to Museums Galleries Artists, Vol. 79, No. 8. p. 102. 
  24. ^ Simpson, Elizabeth (Jan 31, 2011). "Behind the Interactive, Improv Theater 'AIDS Attacks'". The Virginian Pilot. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  25. ^ "A Timeline of AIDS". Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  26. ^ Aizpun, Ines (Dec 5, 1993). "Sida La Tercera Generacion Acabara con Adolescentes". Ultima Hora. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. 
  27. ^ Law, Angela (Feb 21, 2001). "Aiding the Globe". The Daily Free Press. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  28. ^ Cho, David (Feb 8, 1999). "He'll Walk The Earth To Blaze A Trail Of Aids Education". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  29. ^ "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 23 October 2013. 
  30. ^ Chittick, John B. (June 1996). "A New Struggle in Vietnam". Harvard Graduate School of Education. 40 (3): 2–3. 
  31. ^ "TeenAIDS-PeerCorps". Legal Force Trademarkia. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  32. ^ "TeenAIDS-PeerCorps, Inc". Catalog for Philanthropy. Catalog for Philanthropy. Retrieved 21 October.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  33. ^ 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 21 October 2013. 
  34. ^ "Detained, Harassed & Arrested Trying to Save Lives". Fox 25 Boston. February 1, 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  35. ^ "Webathon supports teen AIDS outreach". Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise. December 2, 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  36. ^ "Community Profile". A&U Magazine (145). November 2006. 
  37. ^ "Onstream Media Corporation To Provide Global Webcasting Services in Support of World AIDS Day". Onstream Media Corporation. Onstream Media. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  38. ^ Karow-Reynolds, Teale (29 October 2008). "AIDS activist to meet with African child soldiers". Worcester Telegram and Gazette. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  39. ^ "First Rapid Home-Use HIV Kit Approved for Self-Testing". U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  40. ^ McNeil Jr., Donald G. (July 3, 2012). "Rapid H.I.V. Home Test Wins Federal Approval". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  41. ^ a b McNamara, Anne (April 7, 2013). "Free public AIDS Testing Promotes Teen Health". Wavy Channel 10 News. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  42. ^ a b Straube, Trenton (September 2013). "Testing the Limits". POZ Health, Life & HIV Website. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  43. ^ Carosa, Kristin (September 5, 2013). "Non-Profit Using Public Testing to Spread Awareness". Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  44. ^ Lewis, Cathy. "Hearsay with Cathy Lewis". 89.5 FM (NPR). Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  45. ^ Monfort, Ashley (July 25, 2013). "Richmond teens are the target group for free HIV testing". WWBT, NBC Channel 12, Richmond. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  46. ^ Frankenberry, Rita (June 25, 2013). "Group Offers Free HIV Testing". The Daily Advance. p. 1. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  47. ^ "TeenAIDS-PeerCorps". ABC7 News. Allbritton Communications Company. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  48. ^ Minch, Jack (September 8, 2013). "Record-setting day for AIDS awareness in Fitchburg". Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  49. ^ Melanson, Alana (August 28, 2013). "Fitchburg event aims for record in youth HIV testing". Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  50. ^ Owen, Paula J. (Dec 4, 2009). "Foreclosure at nonprofit ECONOMIC WOES FOR FOUNDER OF TEENAIDS". Worcester Telegram. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  51. ^ Chufo, Veronica (March 9, 2011). "Hampton Roads has some of the highest STD rates in nation". The Daily Press. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  52. ^ Yiorgo (November 27, 2013). "Talking with Dr. Chittick". The Navy Flagship. Retrieved 3 April 2014.