Regional Coordinator Information

  • North Carolina - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Area L AHEC, (252) 972-6958
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Three Rivers AHEC, (706) 507-0894
  • Florida - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Florida- Suwannee River AHEC, (386) 462-1551 x105
Dr. Robert Bednarczyk has been a champion for HPV vaccination in Georgia. Here he’s shown giving a presentation for pediatric Grand Rounds at Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, GA.

Connections lead to partnerships… Partnerships lead to success!

All it took was one contact — to reconnect with a former AHEC colleague — that led to much success for the Three Rivers AHEC in Georgia in their HPV Project work.

Kathy English, Three Rivers AHEC Director, reached out to a former AHEC employee now working at the North Georgia Cancer Coalition in 2016 to share information about the National AHEC Organization HPV project webinars and materials. The North Georgia Cancer Coalition shared HPV immunization materials with English as well.

It was just the start to a fruitful partnership.

From there, English was invited to participate in the Georgia Cancer Control Consortium’s HPV Prevention & Education Work Group. During one of the group's conference calls, a report was given about a presentation given by Dr. Robert Bednarczyk (Hubert Department of Global Health, Emory University) at a conference in Atlanta regarding HPV immunization. Anticipating continued funding and future opportunities to educate professionals in Georgia in a variety of ways, English contacted Dr. Bednarczyk to discuss producing a video training and prepare a live presentation on HPV immunization for an AHEC HPV training.

Not only did Bednarczyk produce the video he also presented “Addressing HPV Vaccine Hesitancy and Myths” at the 2017 Georgia Academy of Family Physicians (GAFP) Summer Conference. With both the video and live options, the numbers of healthcare professionals reached with this education increased exponentially, English said.

After the presentation, Dr. Bednarczyk gave several more presentations in Georgia — a pediatric Grand Rounds at Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, and a webinar with the Georgia American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Bednarczyk continues to share his message about the need for working with physicians on how best to recommend the HPV vaccine to adolescent patients not only across the state of Georgia, but also to professionals in Texas, Florida, New York and New Jersey.

“This is the perfect example of how having the right connections and partnerships lead to success beyond our expectations,” English said.

Florida Summit Highlights Three HPV Champions

Hosting an annual HPV summit can be challenging when it comes to making the conference content fresh each year. This is where leveraging past partners comes in handy!

2018 marked Suwannee River AHEC’s third consecutive year working on the Florida Immunization Summit in Daytona Beach, FL. AHEC staff members were part of the planning committee tasked with identifying relevant and exciting new topics for interprofessional educational focused sessions. They reached out to contacts and partners who they have worked with previously on the NAO HPV Project to help identify current topics and various ways to share important HPV information.

Through the planning process and communication with partners and other committee members, Suwanee River AHEC assisted in sponsoring three different HPV focused presentations given by HPV Champions:

  • Ellen Daley, Ph.D., was recommended by a Department of Health contact due to her experience with women’s health and HPV research and literacy.
  • Dr. Alix Casler focused on HPV vaccinations in primary care practice settings at the 2018 Summit. She has been a speaker at each of the Summits that Suwannee River AHEC has assisted with as well as on panels for other HPV programs they have certified for credit.
  • Andrea Peaten is not only an HPV Champion, but an AHEC Champion as well. She has worked with Suwannee River AHEC since the first Immunization Summit in 2016 and has also started an HPV Ambassador training program where she trains health professionals and students on how to recommend the HPV vaccine and the importance of vaccination. Part of that training includes the “You are the Key” presentation, which Suwanee River certifies for CE/CME on her behalf.

The summit brings together allied health professionals from across the state, as well as vendors in the immunization industry by focusing on an interdisciplinary approach to recommending vaccines to parents and patients.

With HPV being a popular topic, the attendees look forward to learning any new updates or best practices on how to increase their HPV rates and recommend the vaccine to parents. Attendees at the Summit included nurses, public health specialists, health education specialists, community health care workers, and physicians from many rural locations, medically underserved sites, community/federally qualified health centers, and other designations like migrant health centers.

Email distribution list helps with HPV continuing education in Georgia

Three Rivers AHEC has been conducting Continuing Education (CE) programs for at least 20 years. In the early 2000s, they began to utilize a database for their CE programs that required email addresses and began to collect that information from participants. At that time, Three Rivers AHEC did not realize the significance having an email database would play with promoting Georgia’s programs electronically. Three River AHEC database has grown to more than 3,000 email addresses that receive their live, webinar, and on-demand CE program notices; and the sharing of this information has grown exponentially.

Utilizing this database helped Three River AHEC reach more than70 participants in their last “You are the Key to HPV Cancer Prevention” video training. This video training was developed by Ami Steele, PA-C who presented at a live conference for nurse leaders in the Columbus, GA, area. Outreach for the event expanded across the state and happened rapidly which would not have been possible without utilizing electronic promotion methods.

Three Rivers AHEC contracts with several local and statewide organizations to provide the coordination of their live CE conferences and CE/CME contact hours for the health professionals who attend. In the beginning, it was challenging to host and coordinate CE programs focused on HPV immunization. However, securing a speaker for the nurse leadership conference was feasible thanks to all the materials and guidance provided by the National AHEC Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. The speaker was able to use existing resources for her presentation and was also willing to record her presentation to be offered online. This helped Three Rivers AHEC efficiently provide this critical information to healthcare professionals in Georgia.

South Carolina targets school nurses for HPV education

A school nurse’s unique role of keeping children healthy and ready to learn makes them a valuable member of the healthcare community. When it comes to vaccination, school nurses can be strong influencers and that’s why Pee Dee AHEC in South Carolina chose to target this group for specialized HPV education as part of the National AHEC Organization (NAO) HPV Immunization Project.

Pee Dee AHEC, located in Florence, SC, is one of four AHECs in the state. Their service area spans 12 counties demonstrating many disparities including that of low income, high unemployment and low educational levels. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the state’s vaccination rates are lower than the national average. It is Pee Dee AHEC’s goal along with the NAO HPV Immunization Project to increase vaccination rates for the HPV vaccine in South Carolina. Pee Dee AHEC has targeted several different groups of health professionals from Health Department nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and different health professional students. Pee Dee AHEC has also targeted school nurses as well with two different continuing professional development courses in Summer 2016 that contain HPV vaccination information.

Since January 2016, Pee Dee AHEC has conducted live trainings with the staff of the local health department and the McLeod Family Practice Residency Program. This summer, Pee Dee AHEC will also conduct HPV educational events with the Statewide School Nurse Summer Conference and the McLeod Children’s Hospital Annual Pediatric Symposium, with expected attendance of about 175 health professionals. In addition, information on NAO’s free HPV CME course “You are the Key to HPV Cancer Prevention” has been distributed to more than 1,600 past program participants as well as to Pediatricians and OB/GYN physician practices in the region. Pee Dee AHEC will also maintain a vendor display at the School Nurse Summer Conference and will have a billboard with the CDC “You Are the Key” handouts used in previous events. They will also be utilizing materials they designed with a QR Code, which will lead participants to more HPV focused information online.

For more information on this event or on the NAO HPV Immunization Project, please contact Victor L. Rodriguez Cruz, Regional HPV Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Suwannee River

The Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the United States. About 14 million people are infected with the virus annually, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though the infection usually goes away on its own, it has the potential to cause genital warts and – for some 26,000 people each year – cancer.

"Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV infection," said Dr. Susan Vadaparampil, a senior member and professor in the Health Outcomes and Behavior Department at Moffitt Cancer Center. The United States has very low levels of HPV vaccination rates. Pediatricians say that is largely due to resistance from parents, whose anxieties transcend the typical concern over vaccines. “People think that if they give their kid the HPV vaccine, it's a license to go out and procreate," said Dr. Greg Savel, a pediatrician in Clearwater, Fla. "The truth is, this vaccine has been shown to prevent an infection that can lead to life-threatening cancer."

Suwannee River Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is the Florida agency working under the National AHEC Association’s (NAO) HPV grant to increase awareness among medical professionals about the importance of HPV vaccination.

In an effort to bolster HPV vaccination rates in Florida, Suwannee River AHEC partnered with Florida's Leading Immunization Network of Coalitions (FL LINC) and coordinated a four-month campaign to increase knowledge and usage of the HPV vaccine. The campaign included several different events:

  • January Kickoff: "Someone You Love" documentary viewing and a panel discussion
  • February: Florida Immunization Summit 2016: Be HPV Free Florida
  • February-March: Statewide webinars, workshops and community events
  • April: Simultaneous statewide events and film screenings to wrap up the campaign during World Immunization Week

In partnership with the Florida Department of Health, the inaugural Florida Immunization Summit focused on HPV and the benefits of its vaccine as a cancer preventer. The summit took place Feb. 11-12, with six plenary sessions, and 14 breakout sessions. The summit was very well attended, with more than 150 participants from even the most remote areas in the state. Planning is currently underway for the 2017 summit.

Most of the medical professionals in SRAHEC’s coverage area work in rural communities, where it is extremely difficult to travel for educational conferences. To assist these individuals, Suwannee River offers enduring programs, including two HPV courses on StellarEd Solutions, an online learning management system. The HPV courses are free, certified for CE/CME and self-directed, so health professionals can take them at their own pace. They are also able to keep the course materials for future reference. Suwannee River AHEC is committed to improve the HPV vaccination rates in the state of Florida and remains very active in conducting live and online programs throughout the state of Florida. If you would like to benefit from additional trainings and education you may visit:!nao-hpv-grant-/cywy for more information.

To learn more about the NAO HPV Immunization Project and upcoming activities in Florida, please contact Victor L. Rodriguez Cruz, Regional HPV Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

North Carolina – One State, One Network

The mission of Area L AHEC is to meet the needs of the healthcare workforce by providing educational programs and services in partnerships with academic institutions, healthcare agencies, and other organizations committed to improving the health of the people of North Carolina.

Last fall, Area L AHEC hosted a two-day symposium in collaboration with Wilson Medical Center a Duke LifePoint Hospital. During the symposium, Dr. Dean Markham, Jr., with the Brody School of Medicine, presented CDC’s “You Are the Key” presentation to about 100 health professionals from eastern North Carolina. All participants received education about the prevalence of HPV infections, associated cancers, and CDC recommendations on administering the HPV vaccination.

Area L AHEC has also collaborated with multiple healthcare training programs to provide education about HPV and how it can be prevented, all as they cultivate the next generation of healthcare professionals. An existing relationship with March of Dimes (MOD) has allowed Area L AHEC to incorporate HPV content into their 2015-2016 MOD webinar series. This is part of a statewide effort to educate and update all health professionals in order to increase the overall health of North Carolinians.

Area L AHEC is also partnering with four other AHECs within the state. Mountain AHEC, Southern Regional AHEC, Wake AHEC and Northwest AHEC have joined forces on the nation’s HPV initiative to increase vaccination rates and prevent cancer. Wake AHEC plans to record a “You Are the Key” webinar by Dr. Deborah Norton and disseminate across the region at different grand rounds and conferences. As the project excitement continues, other AHECs will be joining forces to spread the HPV initiative into other areas of North Carolina!

As North Carolina continues to reach, even the most rural areas of the state, Area L AHEC plans to partner with Carolina Family Health Centers and Rural Health Group, federally qualified health centers, to educate and update the nation’s message about cancer prevention by vaccinating adolescents with the HPV vaccine. Partnering with the multiple sites of these centers will allow outreach to the most rural parts of the state.

For more information on this event or on the NAO HPV Immunization Project, please contact Victor L. Rodriguez Cruz, Regional HPV Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A driving force to improve Georgia’s Health

Southwest Georgia AHEC and Georgia’s Academy of Family Physicians share a driving force in their hearts to improve and promote access to healthcare for the citizens of Georgia. Both organizations desire to increase the number of primary care professionals in the state. Georgia’s Academy of Family Physicians has supported Southwest Georgia AHEC's Pathway to Med School program for 12 years. The Pathway to Med School program targets college students from rural Georgia who need to know how to become a more competitive applicant in order to gain admission to medical school. This program not only fosters an early interest in primary care, but also provides the students with shadowing, round table discussions and community-based research projects experiences. Every year the students present their research projects at the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians Annual Scientific Assembly, hosted in Atlanta.

The Annual Scientific Assembly has provided a platform for Georgia’s Family Physicians to join in a statewide effort to improve the health and well being of Georgians. The Assembly provides over twenty hours of continuing medical education, where physicians learn about emerging trends in healthcare, discuss common clinical issues, and implement strategies to diagnose and treat conditions that affect the health of all Georgians. During the 2015 Scientific Assembly, the participants learned from leading experts on Alzheimer’s, Obesity, Dermatology, Maternity Management, Pain Management, Patient Communication, and Human Papillomavirus.

Over the past decade, we have seen an increase in oral and cervical cancers related to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Therefore unifying forces to increase the HPV vaccination rates in the state of Georgia are crucial. Which led Southwest Georgia AHEC to partner once again with the Academy of Family Physicians and this year’s Scientific Assembly. Southwest Georgia AHEC presented a session during this year’s Assembly led by Sharon Humiston, MD, MPH, FAAP. The session was titled “HPV Vaccine and Provider-Parent Communication” and allowed participants to gain valuable insight regarding HPV and how to better communicate the benefits of vaccination. As a result of this session participants said:

  • I will “recommend all vaccines rather than just the ones needed (required) for school.”
  • “I work at a middle school as a school nurse. I will be better able to educate parents and students regarding this much needed vaccine.”
  • This will...“change the way I address the parent when offering the HPV vaccine and ask more open ended questions.”

Southwest Georgia AHEC's commitment to improve the HPV vaccination rates in the state of Georgia remains crucial and they will continue to offer another program that Dr. Humiston’s conducted online as an enduring material on their website. If you would like to benefit from this great opportunity you may visit

For more information on this event or on the NAO HPV Immunization Project, please contact Victor L. Rodriguez Cruz, Regional HPV Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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