Exhibit: Women Who Dared
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Biography
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  Abby  Shevitz
  AIDS Physician and Advocate
  Boston WWD Event 2004
  1959 - 2005
  Provided medical care to Boston's poorest citizens infected with AIDS and conducted AIDS research.
 
Biography  up to top

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.

 
What She Said  up to top
ON JEWISH VALUES
I feel very strongly Jewish and guided by being a person of the book, an academic, as well as having a strong feeling for tzedakah and giving. So my Judaism definitely influences my work. ...More 
ON FAMILY UPBRINGING
"I had no Jewish education... But... I went to Jewish day camp." ...More 
ON ROLE MODELS
"I'm always searching for a role model. I really had to define myself over time. I wish I had more of a role model." ...More 
ON BEING A WOMAN ACTIVIST
The only thing I felt was the lack of women role models or mentors. ...More 
ON WORK AND FAMILY
"Until I had my son, I spent as much time as I possibly could toward my career and my advocacy. Now I spend a lot of time with my son." ...More 
ON PATH TO ACTIVISM
Patients said, 'No one has ever shown that they cared about me.' Imagine that they didn't have that ever in their lives. The first time they heard that was from a doctor at a time when they had a fatal illness. ...More 
ON IMPACT ON WORLD
The most important ground that I broke was to develop an AIDS 101 Curriculum to teach the house staff what AIDS was, what it meant, how to care for terminally ill patients, especially the compassion side, which most staff were not prepared for. ...More 
ON IMPACT ON SELF
"I love the idea that the hospital and I personally could provide as good care and attention to people regardless of the fact that they had never known true comfort or inner contentment. I didn't have to go far, but I chose the hospital that was the most challenging." ...More 
ON CHALLENGES
... a woman with HIV prioritizes everyone else before herself. Her parents, her children come first, while her own needs are far behind on the priority list. ...More 
ON REWARDS
By far the most rewarding is seeing a smile on people's face and their thankfulness for my attention for what I'm doing for just being there. Just knowing that I've made a difference to them inside, that I've touched them. ...More 
ON ADVICE FOR ACTIVISTS
The first thing is to get a good mentor early on and discuss your ideas with her. Really plan ahead. ...More 
 
Multimedia  up to top
Photographs Photographs
Articles, Brochures, other papers Papers 

Abstract of paper Dr. Shevitz presented at the Second International Conference on Nutrition and HIV Infection

Title page of paper by Dr. Shevitz, "The Association Between Youth, Women, and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome"

Abstract of paper by Dr. Shevitz, "The Association Between Youth, Women, and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome"

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How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Abby Shevitz." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=pashevitz>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Abby Shevitz," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=pashevitz>.