Aditya Ashok, 17, of Nashua, N.H., a senior at Bishop Guertin High School, is an AIDS activist who has worked in several capacities to spread awareness of the disease - both in the United States and abroad. For the past two summers, Aditya served as a kids' counselor at a vacation camp in New York state for families with at least one HIV-positive member - an experience that has fueled his passion to fight the epidemic. "I saw people at Birch Camp who were broken, and I saw people who have overcome so much," he said. "I was inspired by both groups to do more to help members of society crippled by the insidious HIV."
Aditya began working on AIDS awareness projects at Birch Camp, and then co-founded a school club dedicated to the cause. He volunteered as an intern at an AIDS awareness organization in Massachusetts, where he organized a fund-raiser, established a teen advisory council, and created an online teen advice column with 16 contributors from around the world. Last summer, despite having suffered a collapsed lung, Aditya traveled to Ghana to work with an international volunteer agency to help set up an AIDS awareness and prevention program there, and to deliver presentations at local schools. "Awareness is the most effective weapon," said Aditya. "There is nothing more gratifying than helping those who need it."