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Miami Proud: UM's Sonjia Kenya paving the way in medical field

Miami Proud: University of Miami Doctor Sonjia Kenya champions AIDs awareness in South Florida's und
Miami Proud: University of Miami Doctor Sonjia Kenya champions AIDs awareness in South Florida's und 02:21

MIAMI -- As we celebrate Women's History Month, we acknowledge Sonjia Kenya, who's paving the way in the medical field. 

"I'm the only full professor of medicine who's a Black woman at the University of Miami so as exciting as that is, I'm hoping that by the time I retire, there's a whole more of people just like me," says Kenya, a professor of medicine and public health at UM.  

She founded the 'CHAMP HIV' prevention program in Liberty City.

"It's estimated that 15% of all HIV infections in the entire county occur in this small 2 square mile historically Black community. HIV persists as one of the leading causes of death for Black people in the state of Florida, and, one of my greatest accomplishments in life has been building the CHAMPS program: Community-based HIV awareness for minority populations and what we are is the largest street-based sexual wellness clinic in the county," says Kenya. 

Miami-Dade County, she says, is the leading epicenter for new HIV infections in the US.

Her desire to get into the medical field started as a relatable feeling, she wasn't comfortable going to the doctor. 

"My healthcare experiences are not different than other Black people who go to receive healthcare. I was told by doctors that I would probably develop type 2 diabetes, my grandmother died from type 2 diabetes complications, and I would contract HIV. Those are two major health disparities in the Black community. I wanted people to feel comfortable receiving healthcare and the two things that I was told I would get, diabetes and HIV, are completely preventable, no one ever told me how to prevent them." 

Dr. Kenya is more than just a professor and community activist, she's a mom to an 11-year-old  boy, wife and brings her active lifestyle into these communities she's serving.

"I'm actually a yoga instructor, I teach yoga in a lot of the communities we work with that's part of our methods of intervention."

Her compassion is felt throughout the community center where her program lives, they see Dr. Kenya as a trusted doctor and friend.  Creating these friendships and encouraging healthy sexual relations is what drives her every day, especially during Women's History Month. 

"Finally, we have a dedicated time slot to celebrate the hard work that we're all doing to make the community better. I'm so excited about International Women's Month because women I think are really the peacemakers and the change-makers in the world"  

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