Hampton Roads doctor heads to Africa despite Ebola fears

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Despite safety concerns and the fear of contracting Ebola, there is a Hampton Roads doctor heading to Africa Friday to help stop the spread of AIDS.

Dr. John Chittick says he is not naive to what’s going on in Africa, but he is on a mission to save lives: “I’m very motivated when I’m doing my work.”

In particular, he wants to stop the spread of AIDS in young people.

“What I’m saying to them is there might be wars going on, there might be civil conflict, there might be Ebola, but your battle right now is AIDS, for your generation. If you can protect your generation, you’ll be alright, and that’s for your babies and the future,” Chittick said.

However, AIDS is not the only disease plaguing parts of that continent. Fears of Ebola are widespread, but not for Dr. John, as he’s called.

“Ebola is not going to be with us for another 100 years,” he said. “They are going to find something to contain it.”

Through his organization, TeenAIDS Peer Corps, the Harvard-educated doctor has traveled to 88 countries; 20 of them are in Africa alone. Molly Morneault is one of seven interns who will keep the non-profit running in Norfolk while Dr. John is away.

“I’m excited for him. I think this is really exciting. This is what we are all about,” she said. “The whole mission of the organization is about spreading this kind of awareness.”

“If I can get over there, we can train these young people to train other young people, and then AIDS can be more compartmentalized,” Chittick said.

Dr. John is preparing for the trip by making sure all of his shots are up to date. He will also be monitoring the World Health Organization’s travel alerts. This year, he did change the itinerary because of the confirmed Ebola cases. Dr. John will be avoiding Sierra Leone and Liberia and staying away from certain villages during his travels.

“I know I’m not going to have any problem. I believe it strongly, and if I do, well I’m doing it with my eyes open, and I’ll face those consequences,” Chittick said.

Dr. John Chittick is expected to arrive in Africa Monday. Click here to learn more about his organization.

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