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December 1st is Worlds AIDS Day. Following JWA's lead, we would like to highlight the life of Dr. Abby Shevitz, advocate in the global fight against AIDS. We bring you her biography below, with great thanks to our source, Jewish Women's Archive. The article on Dr. Shevitz's AIDS work can be found here.
Dr. Abby Shevitz grew up in the Jewish suburb of Pikesville, outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Her family considered itself culturally Jewish, but was not formally affiliated with a synagogue. Dr. Shevitz brought the lesson of compassion, learned from her parents, to her career at Boston City Hospital (BCH). She became a strong advocate for her HIV-infected patients, providing a much-needed caring heart to a poor and disadvantaged population.
Serving as Resident Physician and one of the first female Chief Residents at BCH, Dr. Shevitz broke important new ground by developing an AIDS curriculum to teach the BCH staff about how to care for AIDS patients. Abby went on to help develop the first HIV Testing Protocol at a time when there were no existing guidelines.
In 1994, Dr. Shevitz earned a Masters Degree in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. She published early work demonstrating that, among young people, AIDS predominantly strikes women. In 1996 Dr. Shevitz joined the faculty of the Department of Community Health and Family Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine where she spearheaded research into the nutritional problems and lipodystrophy associated with HIV infection. Dr. Shevitz gained an international reputation through her work running the Body Composition Analysis Center at Tufts.
The two key Jewish values of education and compassion informed Dr. Shevitz's home life, community life, research, and advocacy work. Until her death in 2005 after a long battle with lung cancer, Abby lived in Sharon with her husband and son, and had become active in her synagogue, taking her first Torah study class.
Dr. Shevitz Quotes:
On Jewish values;
On being a woman activist;
On work and family;
On path to activism;
On impact on self;
On advice for activists;
Credit for this page goes to Jewish Women's Archive.