I did not expect to be overwhelmed in a van’s makeshift waiting room. I was on a reporting assignment for the Harvard Crimson involving the Family Van, a Boston mobile health clinic that provides free health screenings in the city’s rougher neighborhoods. Among the bustle of visitors — who talked with me about everything from insurance to the Kennedys to tattoos — was a young woman about my age, sporting hot-pink sneakers and hair dyed sun colors. She stepped onboard only briefly, hoisting her baby stroller and calling for the HIV-testing counselor “to pick up my letter.” I was overcome as I watched her vivacious smile: The Family Van only calls home for negative test results. How could I capture the challenges that she would face when she stepped off? How could I tell her story? Bridging the divide between medicine and its politics is the voice of the journalist. As a...
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