Philadelphia Magazine opened up voting for its 2015 Health Hero Challenge Semifinalists Sept. 15. Among them, Drexel College of Medicine’s Stacey Trooskin was chosen as a semifinalist along with 15 others in a campaign to choose who in Philadelphia would help their communities be health and happier. Nominations for the challenge began in the early summer, after which the editors reviewed each of the 600 nominations to narrow it down for voting.
Trooskin, an assistant professor with a specialty in hepatitis C and HIV research, was nominated for work in the “Do One Thing, Change Everything” campaign, a collaborative movement of Drexel and Brown University. She worked with the campaign that promoted communities doing a simple mouth swab or finger stick test to determine their HIV or hepatitis C status. The campaign also helps provides access to proper healthcare for those who need it. Trooskin had developed a specific model, which she had tested in West Philadelphia prior to working for Drexel. She launched the model with Do One Thing.
“I think knowing your status is really important when it comes to HIV and hepatitis C,” Trooskin said. “And now that we have a cure for hepatitis C, we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to receive that.”
In December 2012, Trooskin launched a mobile van testing center into southwest Philadelphia neighborhood, offering free and fast testing for HIV and hepatitis C. She and ten other medical student volunteers went from neighborhood to neighborhood with high rates of infection in order to bring awareness for illnesses that can largely remain asymptomatic. To date, they’ve tested several thousand people with a three and a half percent reported positive for antibodies and four that went into full care.
In February 2015, Trooskin published a research article indicating that this door-to-door method was one of the most effective ways to get medical help in neighborhoods with high rates of infection. Her co-author, assistant professor Amy Nunn at Brown University said, “Our paper proves that scaling screening and treatment, even in neighborhoods with the highest rates of infection, is possible. We overcame all the commonly cited obstacles in this high-risk population.”
Although the voting for semifinalists began Sept. 15, the voting is divided up into rounds in which four semifinalists are up for voting each week. The voting for Trooskin will begin Sept. 22. Along with Trooskin, founder of Philly Girls in Motion Beth Devine, SWEAT Fitness trainer Dan Goldstein and leader of the Team Humane League Meatless Monday Running Crew Lia Belardo will be up for voting in her round. Winners from each week will become among four finalists that run into late October. People will be able to vote once every 24 hours during the voting week. Winners of the Health Hero Challenge will receive a $7,500 donation to a charity of their choice. Runner-ups will get to choose to donate $1,500. Voting ends on Sept. 28.
According to Trooskin, she would take the money and donate it to The Hepatitis C Allies of Philadelphia, an organization dedicated to community outreach for hepatitis C and spread awareness about the disease. Trooskin is a community co-chair for the organization.
Voting can be done at http://www.phillymag.com/healthhero/