NMAC Welcomes the 2019 Reclaiming Our Place at the Table Advocates

On behalf of NMAC and our funders –we are pleased to announce the inaugural cohort of the Reclaiming Our Place at the Table program!

Given the President’s announcement during the annual State of the Union address of the Federal Plan to End the HIV Epidemic and the initial investment of an additional $291 Million dollars in his FY20 Budget Request, it is imperative that the voices of people of color living with and affected by HIV are heard. More importantly, people of color living with and affected by HIV must participate in the planning and implementation of local jurisdiction’s plans to end the epidemic. NMAC is proposing that our community influence end the HIV epidemic (EtHE) work in two ways:

NMAC decided to leverage its strength as a convening and training powerhouse to empower and educate individuals who are reflective of the HIV epidemic to actively influence the local end the HIV epidemic planning efforts and secure additional federal resources.

The goals of the “Reclaiming Our Place at the Table” program are to:

  1. Create a cadre of HIV Advocates who influence federal funding allocation and policies to bend the curve of new HIV infections, retain people of color living with HIV in care, as well as increase healthcare access and utilization for people of color who are living with, affected by and at risk for HIV.
  2. Raise the issue of race and elevate the concerns of people of color who are living with, affected by and at risk for HIV.

To accomplish these goals, our “Reclaiming Our Place at the Table” advocates shall participate in:

  • In-Person TOT Training: September 2019 (USCA September 5-8)
  • In-District Congressional Site Visits: October 2019 (House and Senate on Recess between September 30th and October 14th)
  • Follow-up Webinar: November 2019
  • Virtual Advocacy Day: World AIDS Day 2019 (December 1, 2019)

Congratulations to the following advocates for their acceptance into the inaugural cohort of the Reclaiming Our Place at the Table program:

Alexis Powell (Baton Rouge Parrish, Louisiana)

Alexis Powell is a 38-year-old FIERCE transgender woman that is currently not only living with but also thriving with HIV, diagnosed in 2004 and is doing very well. On December 12, 2015, she became the first Trans Woman to get married in the State of Louisiana and is the mother of a truly amazing 7-year-old son, Isayah Augustine. She is employed as a Consumer/Peer Advocate with HAART Baton Rouge as part of the Minority Aids Initiative and has been employed with the agency since 2015. She goes to great lengths to advocate for all clients so they can receive the services they need, making sure that there are no barriers to getting into and staying in care so they can thrive and live a healthy and full life. She loves helping anyone diagnosed with HIV, but of course, the Transgender Community is near and dear to her heart. Because of this, she is a facilitator for VOAGBR’s Transgender Focus Group, a member of the Transgender Law Center, a national board member for Transgender Advocates, and graduate of NMAC’s Building Leaders of Color Program. Her aspirations are to take what she learns and use it to become a better motivational speaker and educator, as well as being able to put herself out into the community more and use the smaller platforms to move to bigger platforms to educate and motivate more people.


Cesar Cadabes (San Francisco County, California)

Cesar Cadabes was born and raised in Hawaii. Living with HIV since 1989, he has worked in HIV/AIDS for over 25 years; In San Francisco as an Associate Director of Intervention Support at the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center, in Los Angeles as the Program Coordinator of HIV Education and Prevention Programs at the City of Pasadena Public Health Department and in Hawaii as the Executive Director of the Kauai AIDS Project. Currently, he is at the University of California-San Francisco. He was also part of the cohort in NMAC’s Building Leadership of Color (BLOC) program. In addition to his HIV work and advocacy, Cesar is also a writer, performance artist and Artistic Director for the GAPA (Gay Asian Pacific Alliance) Theatre collective.


Efrain “Fredy” Roberts-Ramirez (Cook County, Illinois)
Fredy Roberts-Ramirez currently serves as the TGNC Youth HIV Prevention Program Manager BKA VOICES Program Manager. I have been working in the HIV Prevention Field since 2007, where I started off as a Social Networks recruiter because of my popularity in doing drag in Milwaukee, WI. Currently I am the TGNC Youth HIV Prevention Program Manager also known as the VOICES project at the Broadway Youth Center, a program of Howard Brown Health for the last 2 years. At Howard Brown Health, I work every day to create safe spaces, programming and help dismantle systems that cause barriers for Trans and gender Non-Conforming Youth to make sure they are able to lead safe, fruitful and visible lives.  I have been a part of various leadership programs such as the Wisconsin Leadership Fellowship for People of Color, Illinois Getting to Zero Campaign, Howard Brown Leadership Fellowship and now the NMAC Reclaiming Our Place at the Table- A NMAC Policy & Advocacy Program. I dedicate myself to make sure I utilize my platform to speak up on various issues that surround LGBTQIA people and especially Trans and Gender Non-conforming people of color.


Evonne Kaho (Jackson, Mississippi)

Evonné Kaho is a transgendered spiritual activist and educator. As a Black Trans woman and survivor of domestic violence, Evonné struggles everyday against intolerance, pain and injustice with an open heart. She holds a B.A. degree from Alcon State University and a Master’s in Business Administration,Technology and Management, from the University of Phoenix. Evonné is the founder and CEO of the first Black Transgender nonprofit in the state of Mississippi, Love Me Unlimited 4 Life, an interdisciplinary organization that offers resources, education, counseling and support to Mississippi’s LGBTQ community and those living with HIV.

She serves on the National Advisory Board of Positively Trans, a project of the Transgender Law Center, the Jackson MS Medical Mall HIV Planing Committee, Positive Women’s Network, Mississippi State Lead and is a co-founder and active member of SHERO, (Sister’s Helping Every woman Rise and Organize), and mother of a teenage daughter.

Evonné’s latest labor of love is materializing as she is in the process of establishing a shelter for LGBTQ and HIV positive youth and adults affectionately named, Evonné 4EverCaring.


Kim Watson (Bronx, New York)

Kim Watson is the Founder of an up and new establishment called The The Modern Day Woman Foundation LLC which is a foundation headed by renowned Trans Activist, Spokesperson, and Writer Kim Watson. Kim Watson has been present in intercommunity representation and advocacy for Decades, as a Woman of color she has made it her mission to fight for her various identities. Currently and for many years she has worked diligently, professionally, and to great results under the CK Life foundation.

Kim Watson moved to the US from Barbados when she was 23, hoping to escape the abuse and stigma she’d encountered as a young woman of trans experience. Two years later, homeless and engaging in sex work, she was diagnosed with HIV. Now 54, Kim is a proud mother to her nine year-old daughter, living a full active life with HIV and is sharing her story about how she overcame stigma, found her voice and established a community for herself and other people of trans experience.

For Decades her work has earned her many awards and commendations even becoming spokesperson for various trans initiatives in recent years, including the U=U Campaign!

Through the Modern-Day Woman Foundation LLC, Kim looks to continue doing amazing work without limits, using all her connections to advocate and find appropriate and personal care for various communities.


Nasir X Shabazz (Fulton County, Georgia)

NasirShabazz is a 26-year-old transgender man, father, and LGBTQ activist from Atlanta, GA. He is an avid powerlifter and bodybuilder and has recently started to shift his activism toward organizing athletic and health-related opportunities for the trans community.



Nathan Maxey, MPA (Harris County, Texas)

Nathan Maxey is a graduate of Texas Southern University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work and a Master of Public Administration. He lives the mantra, “Nothing for us without us” because it summarizes his passion and vigor for HIV/AIDS Advocacy as a person openly living with HIV for nineteen years. Currently, he serves as a Program Manager for a nonprofit in his hometown: Houston, Texas. He has presented at national conferences, served as an HIV grants reviewer, and former facilitator for Houston Positive Organizing Project (POP). Nathan is a former NMAC’s Building Leaders of Color with HIV (BLOC) program participant. Most recently, Impulse Group Houston presented Nathan with the Impulse Legacy Award for his work and meaningful involvement with the HIV/AIDS community.


Prizila Vidal (San Diego County, California)

As a local Foster Youth, LGBTQIA, and HIV/AIDS activist, I continue to advocate for foster youth both working with youth during the coming out process, and during the transitional age of 18-24, linking young adults to housing, education and employment resources. My journey with HIV brought me to the Mother, Child and Adolescent Program (MCAP) at UC San Diego, where I continue to volunteer my time and story as a speaker for events and workshops. I also started working within the HIV/AIDS population as well as Targeting Transgender Individuals that are either negative and HIV/AIDS Positive. Before I was even diagnosed I did not know anything about HIV/AIDS, I did not know how risky it can be and easy it is to contract it, although I got the disease by being raped. After knowing how easy it easy to contract it and share it I knew that I had to do something. I decided to bring up the so controversial topic to anyone and everyone that I could. These days besides my activism I am an Educator on HIV/AIDS as well as many other Topics I educate on. Furthermore, I would like to encourage all of you out there that are newly or already diagnosed to find that Support and get your health if not Good then Better!!


Rafael Gonzalez (Riverside/San Bernardino County, California)

OCCUPATION: Community Outreach Coordinator
EMPLOYER:  Inland Empire HIV Planning Council, Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance
PROFESSIONAL/VOLUNTEER: Inland Empire HIV Planning Council Support Staff, Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance Community Outreach Coordinator, California Planning Group At-Large Member with the California State Office of AIDS, Board Member with Casa Ramona, Inc.
MEMBER BIO: Rafael has been involved in HIV prevention/care work for over 15 years. He has held positions in community health education at local AIDS service organizations and spent the last 5 years managing Early Intervention/Linkage to Care, HIV Testing/Education, and PrEP Education/Navigation programs in Riverside County. He is currently working as a Community Outreach Coordinator with the Inland Empire HIV Planning Council and Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance, a local LGBTQ group serving youth in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.


Renae M. Taylor (Shelby County, Tennessee)

Pronouns: They, Them, Their
Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. – Maya Angelou

Renae Taylor is a 43-year-old Non-Binary Trans Organizer located in Memphis, Tennessee. They are part of the Local HIV Care and Prevention Planning Group, they are the Southwest Tennessee delegate for TAPWA (Tennessee Association of People With Aids), and they chair the Local Priorities and Integrated Group. Renae’s area of Interest is Social Justice and Liberation.


Roxanne Glapion (Dallas County, Texas)

Chair PWN-USA Texas Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter

PWN-USA Policy Fellowship Graduate 2018-2019

Administrative Coordinator for TOT 2018

Administrative Coordinator for 86 Legislation 2019


Silvia Valerio (Los Angeles County, California)

Linkage Coordinator/Peer navigator
Bienestar East Los Angeles




Stacy Jennings (Richland County, South Carolina)

Stacy Jennings is a 23-year survivor of HIV. In other words: HEAVEN is IN her VIEW. She states that, “God is truly able”. The day Stacy received her diagnosis in the year of 1995 she thought her life would be over but little did she know that what started out being a devastating diagnosis ended up being a blessing. She is able to speak up and speak out about her diagnosis and is no longer ashamed. She has a 25-year-old son whom is HIV negative and gave birth to a healthy baby boy after 20 years in March of 2014. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it because of the tremendous amount of stigma that still exists within our community and in our world. In spite of it all and because of it all Stacy has chosen to live on and be all that she can be for the next person. Stacy holds a various amount of degrees ranging from Human Services to a Criminal Justice degree. She loves writing poetry and is inspired to write about all facets of life. She dreams of sharing her story to all that are inclined to hear because telling her story will allow her to continue to bring down this disease, allowing her to become a stronger woman because of it.


Warren O’Meara-Dates (Etowah County, Alabama)

Warren Alexander Dates was born in Alabama. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication from Miles College, a United Negro College Fund member institution. He obtained his license to preach the Gospel in 2004.

In 2010 following his November 2009 HIV/AIDS diagnosis, Minister Dates founded The 6:52 Project Foundation, Inc. (6:52 Project). The 6:52 Project Foundation, Inc. (6:52 Project) began leading the way of exploring the complexity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic as it partners with local, state and national individuals, organizations and corporations on January 16, 2010. Its resources targets individuals and organizations whose audience includes those affected and/or infected between the ages of 15-35 years.

Warren is currently a member of the Alabama Department of Public Health’s HIV Prevention & Care Group (HPCG); He serves as Special Projects Coordinator Consultant for the AL Dept. of Public Health, HIV/AIDS Division; He is the Founding Chairman of the Board of Directors for NEAL (Northeast Alabama) Together (an LGBTQ Community Support Group).

USCA is Sold Out!

The 2019 United States Conference on AIDS is sold out! The good news is that more people than ever want to learn about the federal plan to end the domestic HIV epidemic. Thank you for the overwhelming response. We understand this is an important year. I also know this is disappointing for some and I apologize for any inconvenience it causes. The online registration portal will stay open until August 23rd, then it will close. We will not accept any onsite registrations.

Our primary concern has to be for the safety of attendees. You can only fit so many people into the hotel before it becomes dangerous. For those attending, there will be lines. We will do our best to make them move quickly and we appreciate your understanding.

Consider attending the Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit. The meeting is December 3-4 in Houston, Texas.  The deadline to apply for scholarships is September 16th.

Child Care @ USCA
So many people living with HIV now have children. That is amazing and such a blessing. USCA offers child care for attendees from Playtime Sitters. This company is owed by Khadijah, who is part of the USCA Faith Coalition. Make your reservation in advance with Alison McKeithen. I remember a time when we focused solely on the medical needs of people living with HIV, so to have child care makes me so happy. I don’t think we could have imagined this reality in the early days of the epidemic.

Don’t Call Us “Other”
To plenary and workshop leaders, thank you for volunteering your time, talent and expertise. USCA is first and foremost a training opportunity. This year there will be 160 workshop, four plenaries, and long lines. When giving your presentation, please do not use “other” when speaking about American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians, or Pacific Islanders/Native Hawaiians. While I understand our sample size may be too small to have good data, it’s better to note that fact than to label us as “other” in order to balance your percentages.

Please do not combine the transgender community with gay men. Once again, I understand if you don’t have that information because the data was not collected that way. It is better to note that fact in your presentation. This is not about being politically correct; it is about having real data to supports jurisdictional plans. How can we tell if we are ending HIV in the transgender community if we don’t have good data?

USCA Conference Planning Team
The Conference Operations Office is located in Marquis Salon 15 on Meeting Level 2.

Director of Conferences

Tara is your contact for all conference-related information and has overall responsibility for USCA. Email: tbarnes@nmac.org Phone: 202.870.0460

Conferences Manager

Alison is your contact for all conference related information, particularly questions about sessions, faculty, and special events. She is also your contact for all things workshop, poster, institutes, master series, and affinity sessions related. Email: amckeithen@nmac.org Phone: 202.930.2567

Conferences and Registration Coordinator

Shanta‘ is your contact for conference registration and scholarship concerns. Shanta‘ will be stationed at the “On-Site Solutions” booth at conference registration. Email: sgray@nmac.org Phone: 202.302.9720

Conferences Program Associate

Gabriella is your contact for the Conferences Operations Office. She is able to receive and disseminate communications and assist in troubleshooting issues onsite. Email: gspencer@nmac.org Phone 202.738.0935

Associate Program Manager

Terrell is your contact for CAPs, programmatic questions, and overall troubleshooting. Email: tparker@nmac.org Phone: 202.977.5598

Exhibits Coordinator is your contact for the conference exhibit hall. She can be reached through the Exhibitor Registration booth in the booth on the Meeting Level 4 of the Marriott Marquis. Email: smance@nmac.org Phone: Phone: 202.492.8278

Thank You 2019 Sponsors

















Workshops & Pathways
This year’s conference will offer 160 workshops via Pathways and Tracks. The difference between a track and a pathway are the number of workshops.  Pathways are limited to four, while tracks are significantly larger. Tracks also come from abstracts, while a pathway is curated by the host agency. USCA works hard to bring state of the art learning from agencies and presenters who are leaders in their field. Our workshops differ from scientific conferences because we ask the presentations use community learning styles and be interactive and open to questions. Attendees come to USCA with very different levels of understand.

2019 Pathways











2019 Tracks













Morning Worship Service
The Balm in Gilead will host morning worship services starting on Thursday at 7:00. AM. The location is the Scarlet Oak Room on the lobby mezzanine.

For NMAC, ending the domestic HIV epidemic is our mission slayer, our raison d’etre. We will lead with race to ensure that plans to end the epidemic work in all the communities highly impacted by HIV. This only works when government and community collaborate. There is much that divides us and sometimes I’m surprised we’ve made it this far. Biomedical HIV prevention has given us real pathways, but we need to reach communities that are stigmatized, marginalized, and disenfranchised. People living with HIV are core to the solution and must be prioritized, particularly the 400,000 PLWH who have fallen out of care or are unaware of their HIV status.

Yours in the struggle






Paul Kawata*
*POZ Magazine was gracious to print a special run of the magazine for USCA. I am not on the cover, but they are doing this wrap for the meeting. 30 years is a long time and I am proud to stand with NMAC in our fight to end the HIV epidemic.



Understanding The United States Conference on AIDS

Are you excited for this year’s United States Conference on AIDS? To help you navigate the meeting, here is some of the back story. This year’s meeting will focus on the federal plan to end the domestic HIV epidemic. On October 1,, 2019, 57 jurisdictions will start to build plans to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. The promise of biomedical HIV prevention gives real pathways to significantly reduce the number of new cases. The goal is to have fewer than 3,000 cases per year by 2030.

For the newbies to USCA, here’s some of the back story. The meeting is the largest community-based HIV conference in America. Around 3,000 folks will join us this year. Thirty-five percent of the attendees are people living with HIV. Sixty-five percent are people of color. USCA works hard to reflect the HIV epidemic in all of its diversity.

For some people, their first time at USCA can be a little scary and overwhelming. This year there are 160 workshops, four plenaries, and long lines at registration. To help you navigate, join us for the USCA Orientation Webinar on Wednesday, August 14th at 3 PM (Eastern).  Register now.

Attendees are both providers and the people jurisdictional plans need to reach. In the larger world, many of our attendees are stigmatized, marginalized, and made to feel less than. At USCA they are prioritized, heard, and made to feel like the color of their skin does not matter. There will be protests. Protests are in the DNA of our movement and something that NMAC supports. Learning to speak truth to power without violence is an important lesson for people who live on the margins. From the civil rights movement to the women’s movement to the LGBTQ movement to ACT-UP, this is how we are heard.

The Opening Plenary will feature interviews with the federal leaders who wrote the plan. It will be NMAC’s version of the Sunday Morning talk shows with Dr. Redfield (CDC), Dr. Fauci (NIAID), Rear Admiral Weahkee (IHS) and Dr. Cheever (HRSA). Saturday’s plenary is a celebration of People Living with HIV & U=U. Sunday’s closing plenary will be about PrEP and how to reach the communities that have not seen the promise of this science.

Training Opportunity
First and foremost, USCA is a training opportunity with 160 workshops. The conference uses a smartphone app to keep everyone informed. Go to  Google Play or Apple app stores to download the app. CDC and HRSA have pathways of workshops:

  • Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPrEP and SSP Strategies to End HIV: Successes and Challenges
  • Supporting Linkages, Retention and Rapid Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)
  • How do we DIAGNOSE HIV Infections as soon as possible?
  • Partnering for Public Health Response to End the HIV Epidemic
  • Building on HRSA Programs’ Infrastructure Supporting Ending the HIV Epidemic
  • Community Engagement and Involvement of People with HIV
  • Innovation through Implementation Science
  • HRSA Ending the HIV Epidemic Listening SessionI.R.S.A. Resources and Services Administration
  • Sesion para escuchar: Como acabar con la epidemia de VIH

Other pathways include: Faith, Fast Track cities, Health Care Providers, Hepatitis, Health Care Access, the South, STDs, Structural Interventions, Treatment/CFAR, and U=U. The 2019 Tracks include: Biomedical HIV Prevention, Ending the Epidemic, Gay Men, Leadership, Opioid Epidemic, PrEP for CBOs, People Living with HIV, Public Policy, Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming, Trauma-Informed Care, Women and Youth.

There is NO printed program book. Past evaluations said printed program books were not environmentally responsible and usually get thrown away. The best way to stay informed about USCA is to download the conference app. Go to Google Play or Apple app stores to download it. A PDF of the program book that you can download will also be available on the USCA website.

Building A Movement
Ending the epidemic in America requires a movement of people working collaboratively towards a common goal. USCA builds that movement by bringing together the diverse communities highly impacted by HIV to talk, train, and argue. What makes the meeting both dynamic and challenging is our diversity as marginalized people in America.

Unfortunately, HIV disproportionately impacts people who live outside of the mainstream. To end the epidemic, we must reach communities that don’t trust the government or the systems that are put in place to help. Can you blame them? Daily we hear that we are less than, not valued, or disposable. The people who make it to USCA are empowered, but they work with, support, and speak on behalf of too many who are disenfranchised.

That is the great paradox. To end the epidemic, we need people living with HIV to stay in healthcare and be adherent to their meds. PLWH daily face discrimination, stigmatization, and criminalization from the systems that now needs them to end the epidemic. If we do not celebrate people living with HIV and their capacity to be undetectable, how will our efforts succeed? It is difficult to celebrate people you do not know.

Some believe we just need to link people into healthcare and get them on meds. If only it were that easy. While that might work in the mainstream, it definitely does not speak to people who suffer from the trauma of racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, and addiction. When NMAC says this will be one of the biggest tests of our leadership, we mean it. Not only do we have to work across systems, but we also have to work with people who have different values, beliefs, and ideals.

Family Reunion
At its foundation, USCA is a family reunion. We celebrated that fact two years ago and it is still true today. The world can be a lonely and harsh place for people who are different. USCA is a place that celebrates what society shuns.

We celebrate the diversity of our family. If you cannot stand with that commitment, then please don’t attend the meeting. Like all family reunions, there are disagreements. NMAC believes our disagreements makes us stronger, but sometimes it moves beyond disagreements to bullying. That’s where we draw the line. Bullying, harassment, and violence are never OK. As marginalized people, we live in that reality every day. USCA is a safe space where differences are honored and privilege is minimized.

In other words, USCA is not your typical HIV meeting, but HIV is not your typical disease. On October 1st our nation will start planning to end the HIV epidemic in America. Plans are due by the end of the year. Who sits at the table and the agencies that implement the plans will make the difference between success or failure. It’s up to us to fight for our communities. Thank you for joining us this very important year.

Yours in the struggle,






Paul Kawata 
30 Years of Service


Welcome to USCA 50+ Scholars for 2019 (Pt. 2)

HIV 50+ - Strong & HealthyThe HIV 50+ Strong and Healthy Program offers support and engagement opportunities for those HIV-positive and over the age of 50 who struggle with isolation and the need to overcome depression. The HIV 50+ program allows them to reinvent themselves and become active and productive individuals in the community. The program is composed of 51 individuals who either work with or are HIV positive and over the age of 50 years old. The program consists of educational webinars, mini-grant and internship opportunities, sponsorships to conferences and involvement at the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA).

Congratulations to this year’s scholars! Since we have 51 Scholars, we will recognize them in two parts.

Nancy Duncan is 61 years old and has been living and aging with HIV for 34 years now. She is very grateful to have made it through the difficult years before the anti-viral medications that came out in the mid-nineties because at that time, she didn’t think she was going to make it!  She has been blessed to be able to see her son grow to up to become an amazing adult. She currently has some health issues but is thriving pretty well now and has been doing HIV testing and counseling and peer work for many years. Living with HIV has given her the chance to meet so many wonderful and inspiring people over the years and she looks forward to many more years of good health and happiness to come!

Nancy Shearer is a Filipina woman diagnosed with HIV in March 1997. Ever since she was diagnosed, she has dedicated herself to advocating for the rights of HIV+ individuals. She was also a grantee of a mini grant where she hosted a  Social event for heterosexual men and women focusing on connecting with their peers facing the same challenges.



Nikki Calma aka Tita Aida, is a familiar name to the Bay Area communities for the past twenty years. She is a tireless and proud transgender community leader in the Asian & Pacific islander LGBTQI community and the transgender community. She is currently the Director of HIV Services and Community Programs at San Francisco Community Health Center (formerly API Wellness).



Patricia (Pat) Kelly is a native New Yorker who currently resides in Orangeburg, SC. She is aging gracefully and gratefully soon to be 65 years young and surviving and thriving 34 yrs. She was diagnosed with HIV in 1985 and AIDS in 1998. She is the mother of three, grandmother of eight and great grandmother of seven. Pat is also the founder of A Family Affair HIV and AIDS Ministry of Victory Tabernacle Deliverance Temple. She serves on several boards and is actively involved in the HIV arena locally and nationally.

Porchia Dees is from San Bernardino, CA. She currently serves in the Los Angeles area as a Prevention Specialist for an organization called AIDS Project Los Angeles. She was born HIV positive in 1986 and has been thriving with this condition for 32 years strong now. Helping others and giving back to her community is her passion. Public speaking and advocating for HIV/AIDS has become her calling, and has been working on trying to become better at speaking out, educating, and articulating her experience with the world.

Randal Lucero has held the position of Board Member with several well-known national HIV organizations, where he has worked for over 12 years advocating for individuals and communities affected by HIV. Volunteerism has always been in the forefront of his professional experiences.  As the founder of the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services HIV Advocacy Network and the State Consumer Representative to the NMDOH HIV Services Clinical Quality Management Committee he has made an extensive impact within the rural Southwest HIV community. Randal describes himself as a person living with HIV who strives to learn as much as possible and translate the knowledge into lay terms for others to understand the complexities of living with HIV.

Reggie Dunbar II is the Founder and CEO of Poz Military Veterans USA Intl.
He served in the US Army Vietnam Era Veteran where he served in the JAG (legal) Core. He serves as the second vice chair of the Metropolitan Atlanta HIV Health Planning Services, a community advisory board member of Emory Clinical Trials and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.



Rob Ingwerson lives in Beaverton, Oregon with his partner of 24 years. He currently is working at Cascade AIDS Project as an HIV Peer Support Specialist. Rob also does HIV testing for all at the main offices as well as testing in different community events. He is involved with AIDS Walk every year. Rob is very excited to attend this year’s USCA as a representative for the Aging HIV community.


Rob Cooke has been living in Washington, D.C. for 20 years, from the Norfolk VA area. He is thankful and blessed that he has been healthy undetectable for 21 years. He is presently apart of the Washington DC Regional Planning Commission on Health and HIV, working with the Community Engagement and Education Committee and the Community Advisory Board with Unity Health Clinics in the District. He is also actively involved with CNHED, Communities for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development with “Housing For All” Campaign, LEDC, Latino Economic Development Center for Tenant Rights, and Manna Inc.(nonprofit housing assistance) board of directors.

Robert Cornelius is the financial coordinator at Cempa Community Care, which provides primary and infectious disease care, mental health counseling, health maintenance, peer navigation and more for people living with and affected by HIV located in Chattanooga Tn. When not crunching numbers for the organization, he spends his time spreading awareness about the virus. Robert is currently working on programs for long-term survivors who are 50 and older, including planning for retirement—a milestone many in his community thought they might never reach. Over the past 20 years, his advocacy work has impacted the lives of people living with HIV from all walks of life and of all ages.

Rob Pompa, LCSW currently serves as Behavioral Health Specialist in a hospital based HIV clinic and is an advocate and activist for PLHIV.   Rob currently serves on the Pennsylvania Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Program Advisory Council, the State of Pennsylvania HIV Divisions’ HIV Planning Group and as co-chair for assessment committee, the AIDSNET Coalition Regional MSM Prevention Planning Group, as well as a member of the Consumer Advisory Board for CDC’s Division of HIV Prevention Behavioral and Clinical Surveillance Branch Medical Monitoring Project.  Rob is thrilled and grateful to be a member of the NMAC HIV 50+ Strong and Healthy cohort.

Robert Riester is a Denver native and 30+ year HIV long-term survivor, and HIV/AIDS Activist and Advocate, both locally and nationally, and pleased to be part of the NMAC 50+ Strong & Healthy program family. He is currently a Program Coordinator for the Denver Element at Mile High Behavioral Health Care, including the Positive Impact program with a focus on HIV and Aging and Ryan White services administration, and works collaboratively with other HIV/AIDS organizations. Robert is currently serving on his third term with the Denver HIV Resources Planning Council and first appointed term to the Denver Commission on Aging, bringing the voice of HIV & Aging to the table.

Shirl Kirskey was born and raised in the Washington, DC area. She is an Administrative Assistant by trade. She moved to Jacksonville, Florida over 30 years ago working at a local hospital for 14 years when she was diagnosed. She is 56 years old and has been positive for 25 years. She is a mother of three daughters.



Stephen Addona is a long-term AIDS survivor, certified peer specialist and founder of RE-START, Central Florida’s largest HIV support group. The focal point of Stephen’s work is HIV and Aging. His primary goal is to set the standard in how to mature well while living with the virus. “It’s an art,” he says, “I sculpt both my body and mind daily, through use of my personal wellness plan.  Exercise, nutrition, abstinence from tobacco and substance use, and continuously challenging the mind are critical in maintaining quality of life.”

Steven Vargas, Program Coordinator with AAMA (Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans) began helping people living with HIV in 1989, has been living with HIV since 1995, and was recognized as one of Poz Magazine’s “100 Long Term Survivors” in its annual “Top 100” December 2015 issue. Steven is a board member of Houston’s OH Project which preserves the experiences of Houstonians impacted by HIV, and is serving a four year term as a Community Member representative to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents.  He has been the recipient of the 2016 L. Joel Martinez Memorial Award from Legacy Community Health and last year received the 2018 HIV Community Activist Award from Houston’s African American State of Emergency Task Force.

Sylvester Askins was diagnosed in June 1990 in Washington, DC. He currently lives in Portsmouth, VA and works as a Consultant. In this role he assists other persons living with HIV to re-enter the workforce and begin their journey to “Endependence.”



Thomas J. Villa is a member of and longtime advocate for the LGBT community, an accomplished leader and successful business executive. He has thirty years of success building and leading new teams and new businesses, primarily in healthcare and community engagement, most recently as co-founder of Impacto LGBT to serve the LGBT Latinx community of Northern Virginia. As a long-time survivor of HIV, Tom is a member of the Community Advisory Board to the BELIEVE HIV Cure Initiative, the NIH Precision Medicine InitiativeTM pilot group, and participates in various clinical trials focused on ending the HIV epidemic. Tom continues his lifelong participation in community service with a special focus on promoting health equity and civil rights.

Timothy Lunceford-Stevens has worked at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in the Education Department in 1983 working on Prevention. He joined ACTUPNY in the founding year 1987. He is currently on a citywide LTS AIDS Service Planning Council, working to make sure LTS are not left alone in New York. With his SAGE membership, he worked last year to make sure the LTS nationwide were able to stay connected with Equality Bill.


Todd Dickey is the HIV Services Manager at The Gay & Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada, a.k.a. The Center. He has been in the Las Vegas Valley since 1976 and has been HIV positive for 28 years. Living with HIV can be a challenge for most, adding in stigma and fear can often times add in a layer of complexity that can be overwhelming for some. He has the honor of connecting with people living with HIV on a daily basis and sharing with them his experience with HIV and letting them know that they are not alone.

Mr. Trevor D. Bradley is 50 plus and has been in passionately involved in HIV prevention and education since 1998. He helped co-found Brothers United, an HIV prevention, education and advocacy agency in Indianapolis. Trevor became the first person to hold the position of HIV Prevention Program Manager for Communities of Color at the Indiana State Department of Health. He has been an MSM Advisory member for the CDC, lecturer, trainer and advocate for Communities of Color for over 20 years. Trevor is involved with several civic and non profit organizations, but has a fondness and place in his heart for real HIV prevention.

William H. Chastang has been a HIV Consumer Advocate since Feb. 2005. He believes his quest will not end until there is a cure.  He encourages all who have an HIV diagnosis to “Live in the moment” because we are not victims but survivors.



William Hall is a Tlingit Indian from Southeast Alaska and has been living with HIV/AIDS for 33 years. He is a community advocate for the Native American Community in Seattle. He is also co-chair of the Seattle Planning Council and has volunteered with defeatHIV, a CAB to Fred Hutch Cure Research for AIDS for five years now.



Zeke Garcia is a community health worker and health educator risk reduction specialist. He regards himself as conduit of hope; a custodian of culture living the HIV + dream for the past 20 years. He is devoted to a life of healing, empowering and connecting.



Nadine Ruff, MSW, is an LGBT activist and the founder of Divinely You, a support group for transgender people based in New Haven, CT. She works for APNH, a non-profit organization in New Haven, as the Program Coordinator of Aging Positively, an evidence-based intervention for people living with HIV who are age 50 and older. As a social worker, Nadine uses her clinical and community organizing to strengthen vulnerable communities.

Culture @ USCA: What’s Happening In 2019

Culture provides a window into worlds that are different from your own. Through music, food, dance, fashion, and language, culture expresses value, emotion, and love. Understanding these values is important if we want to end the HIV epidemic because the culture of communities highly impacted by HIV are outside of the mainstream. If you don’t live in that community, you may not fully understand how to reach them. USCA gives you a window to understand communities that are different. Sometimes it challenges the way we think, sometimes it affirms our beliefs, but mostly it helps us better understand communities we need to reach to end the HIV epidemic. Mainstream HIV service models have reached the vast majority of people living with HIV, but to end HIV we must reach the 400,000 PLWH who have fallen out of care or are unaware of their HIV status.

Far too often culture is minimized as superficial or unimportant. Why do I need to understand the culture and values of any community disproportionately impacted by HIV if all I want to do is retain people in healthcare and adherent to their meds? As we have learned in patient center care models, we must meet people where they live and work. Rather than asking them to adapt to our culture, we must adapt to theirs.

This year USCA is more intentional about its use of performance. While we want the music to move you, we also hope it will give you insights into communities that are outside of the mainstream but the target for our efforts.

Opening Plenary, Thursday, September 5th
Indian Health ServicesThursday’s Opening Plenary and Sunday’s Closing Plenary will highlight the culture of the American Indian/Alaska Native Community. This presentation was put together as a gift for USCA from the Indian Health Service. NMAC thanks the IHS and Rick Haverkate. We cannot highlight every community at every plenary, so we ask for your understanding. Last year we highlighted Beyoncé going to Coachella and HBCUs.

Saturday September 7th Plenary: A Celebration of People Living with HIV
Saturday’s Plenary is a celebration of people living with HIV and their central role in ending the epidemic. The science of U=U makes PLWH core to the solution. This plenary will only feature HIV positive performers. In addition to singing, we’ve asked these artists to explain how HIV impacts their art.

Branden and James
BRANDEN & JAMES, “a powerhouse cello and vocal duo.” Branden James’ voice inspired millions as a finalist on season 8 of America’s Got Talent. In the early part of 2015, James disclosed he was diagnosed HIV positive in his mid-20s. James stated: “I formed a major complex about what people would think of me. I kept it a deep dark secret to everyone except the trusted few.”

Originally from Tampa, Florida, Jade Elektra (African-American, Openly Gay HIV+ Drag Recording Artist, DJ, Actress & Activist) was a transplant to New York City in 1992 and then made Toronto her home in 2010 when she married John Richard Allan. In the world of entertainment, from performing on stage with Beyoncé to impersonating legends such as Billie Holiday live on stage, Ms. Elektra is not your average drag queen.

Sunday September 8th Closing Plenary
In addition to the closing ceremony provided by the American Indian/Alaska Native communities, we will also pass the torch to Puerto Rico for the 2020 USCA. We are still working with the San Juan host committee to figure out the best way to celebrate Puerto Rico and the Latinx community.USCA selected San Juan as the 2020 site in order to bring economic development back to the island.  According to the local convention bureau, our meeting will provide jobs for over 1,000 people on the island. Additionally, going to San Juan gives the meeting the ability to highlight HIV in the Latinx and Caribbean communities. Attendees will have the experience of being in a city where English is the second language. If we are to end HIV, we need to make sure we reach all the communities highly impacted by HIV.Movie Night @ USCA
Friday, September 6th is movie night at USCA. This year we will show the acclaimed documentary “5B.” Thanks to the support of Janssen, USCA will present this important documentary. Joining us for a panel discussion after the film are my friends Cliff Morrison and Hank Trout.

According to the Washington Post “The film flashes back to the mid-1970s, when San Francisco’s growing gay community — newly liberated in the post-Stonewall era — made it possible for men to walk down the street together holding hands. As one 5B survivor recalls, such public expressions of affection were a big deal. When the plague, as some referred to AIDS, first struck, it hurt that some professionals — caregivers, police, etc. — refused to touch people most in need of it.

The film reminds us that, in the early days of AIDS, doctors didn’t know whether the virus was airborne. Some media reports stoked public fears that an infected person could pass on a death sentence, just by breathing. The workers in 5B, unable to heal their patients, shifted their focus from cure to care, holding hands with and embracing people whose families, in many cases, had rejected them.”

While I have not seen the film, I’ve been asked to let people know that the documentary will trigger many feelings. There will be grief support people onsite during the showing. The film tells the story of the early San Francisco epidemic.

Master Lecture by Mykki Blanco
In addition to a more traditional Master Lecture to be given by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Mykki Blanco has just confirmed his participation. This is how I know that I am old: I had to look up his Wiki page to learn about him:

Mykki Blanco began as a teenage girl character for a YouTube video in 2010, but evolved into a musical and performance art piece. Blanco’s name is inspired by Lil’ Kim’s alter ego Kimmy Blanco.

In June 2015, Blanco revealed that he has been HIV positive since 2011. Blanco initially worried that being HIV positive would be detrimental to his career, saying of the decision to make finally that information public, “I did it for myself. At a certain point, my real life has to be more important than this career.”
He is also the star of Madonna’s video Dark Ballet.

Mykki will do a Master Lecture at USCA on “How HIV Influences his Art.”

Opening Reception
This year’s Opening Reception is put together by the Washington DC Host Committee.  They have put together an exciting evening that includes an exhibition ball.

I’ve been told that USCA makes some people uncomfortable because they are attending a meeting that is not just about them. Imagine how planning council members or people living with HIV feel at your meetings. USCA highlights the various cultures of communities highly impacted by HIV because we will never end HIV if we don’t meet people where and how they live. Thank you for taking a risk and being uncomfortable.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata
30 Years of Service

Welcome to USCA 50+ Scholars for 2019 (Pt. 1)

HIV 50+ - Strong & HealthyThe HIV 50+ Strong and Healthy Program offers support and engagement opportunities for those HIV-positive and over the age of 50 who struggle with isolation and the need to overcome depression. The HIV 50+ program allows them to reinvent themselves and become active and productive individuals in the community. The program is composed of 51 individuals who either work with or are HIV positive and over the age of 50 years old. The program consists of educational webinars, mini-grant and internship opportunities, sponsorships to conferences and involvement at the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA).

Congratulations to this year’s scholars! Since we have 51 Scholars, we will recognize them in two parts.

Alexa Elizabeth Rodriguez is originally from Usulután, El Salvador. Her passion is defend Transgender and people living with HIV rights. She founded the first working and support group for people living with HIV and Trans Women, in her hometown “Mi Nueva Familia” (My New Family). Alexa has continue her work in the DMV (DC, Maryland and Virginia) with many organization including DC Health Department. She is the Director of the Trans-Latinx DMV a Two-Spirit led organization that centers the needs of Black & Indigenous Trans-Latinx people living in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia, that function as regional Chapter of The National Trans-Latin@ Coalition. Alexa has been awarded with many recognitions.  She has been an activist for 16 years fighting for the rights of the HIV positive and members of the transgender community. As a transgender and HIV positive individual, Alexa will continue to fight to make sure her community does not fail.

Angel Luis Hernandez was born and lives in Puerto Rico. Diagnosed with AIDS in 2003, with a poor prognosis, it took him 6 years to “get out of the closet” of HIV. Since 2010, Angel has been involved as a community representative in various local, national and international boards and organizations. As advocate, he believes there is still a need for education around HIV, and still much more work to do to address the social determinants of health of persons living with HIV and AIDS. A key element of Angel’s advocacy work is to empower and support persons living with HIV and AIDS. As HIV Community Educator, he has received scholarships to attend various national and international conferences. Angel helps members of the general community understand the science of HIV and AIDS to ensure community concerns are considered.

Angelica Gallegos, Case Management Supervisor, has been employed with Access and Information Network (AIN) in Dallas, TX since 2017. She has her master’s in social work from Texas A&M Commerce and a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Texas Woman’s University. She is currently on the Dallas HIV Task Force and the Latinx Task Force Work Group. Angelica has worked in the social work field for 6+ years, advocating for service, justice and the dignity and worth of each individual.


Arthur Jackson is a respected and innovative national community educator of HIV Prevention, Education and Care Services, in Indianapolis, Indiana, working as the Linkage to Care Coordinator for BU Wellness Network. Born and raised in Orange, New Jersey, Art graduated from Orange High School in 1983 and attended Penn State University. Moving to Harlem, New York, Art has witnessed the evolution of HIV/AIDS from its inception to how we are currently living and dealing with this virus today. Since being diagnosed in January 1989 Art has tried to be an avid and dedicated fighter for those living with this disease.

Bryan Jones has been thriving with AIDS for 35 years an advocating half that time . He is a Founding Steering Committee Memeber of U=U and has spoken internationally on U= U. He performs a one man theatrical conversation entitled A.I.D S….- And I Die Slowly throughout the U.S and abroad. He us the proud recipient of the Equitas Health Trailblazer Award for lifelong committment to the LGBTQ community and HIV. Bryan was chosen this year by the Body .Com as one of their Game Changers in HIV Advocacy. Mr. Jones is the Founder of the Dirt Advocacy Movement And has been working on Modernizing HIV criminalization laws for several years.

Carlos Carmona is an HIV long-term survivor of 29 years and an activist and advocate for people living with HIV (PLWH) for over 15 years. He currently resides in San Antonio, Tx and continues to be a voice for the HIV community breaking down stigma and bringing awareness about HIV.



Cecilia Dennis is currently located in Phoenix, AZ is a Building Leaders of Color Trainer of Trainers, PWN-USA AZ State Lead, and serves on Maricopa Integrated Health System Community Advisory Board. Currently, Cecilia provides effective risk reduction education in group and one-on-one settings, along with public speaking. She also hosts community events, disseminates materials, and conducts HIV/STI testing.


Christine Kapiioho is a Native Hawaiian and Okinawan. She lives on the island of Maui and in September 2019 she will have worked for Maui AIDS Foundation for 10 years. She started as a case manager with 50 clients and in 2012 became Director of Client Services and works with two caring, competent medical case managers for 150+ clients. She is honored to be selected as a scholarship recipient and hopes to continue to bring innovative information to her clients, especially her 50+ year old clients on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

David “Jax” Kelly is the president of Let’s Kick A.S.S. (AIDS Survivor Syndrome) – Palm Springs Chapter (LKAPS.org). He has been thriving with AIDS since 2006. He is a member of Cleveland AIDS Clinical Trials Unit Community Advisory Board.



Dawn Breedon is an HIV positive motivational speaker, Certified Life Coach, activist, and author of REMEMBER TO BREATHE. Dawn continues to educate herself to help others pull through adverse situations. She graduated with honors from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania with a Masters of HumanServices Degree, where she was inducted into the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society for Social Sciences. Dawn holds a certificate in Evidenced Based Coaching from Fielding Graduate University.

Denise Drayton is a 68-year-old Mother of Christal and George, Grandmother to Kevin and Cameron.  She tested HIV positive on September 1993.  She is the community Liaison for ACRIA Centers on Aging at GMHC. She is dedicated to providing HIV prevention education to those at risk for HIV. She is also a Faithful servant of Healing Touch HIV Ministry at Emmanuel Baptist Church.


Diana Goodie is currently employed as a Medical Case Manager/ Ryan White Eligibility Specialist at East Carolina University Adult Specialty Care. Diana has been actively involved in working with PLWH for more than 18 years and has developed a passion for serving the aging population as evidenced by her advocacy & supportive efforts. She has become a Certified Dementia Practitioner and is currently pursuing certification in Gerontology. Diana is committed to empower, educate and reduce barriers that effect PLWH in Eastern North Carolina.

Emilio Apontesierra-Paretti is an asylee from Colombia with a masters degree in Education in Guidance Counseling. He focuses his work in Public Health as a Certify Community Health Worker, particularly the issues of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care. Aponte was the Chair of both, Latinx and MSM Advisors Groups of the Broward County HIV Prevention Planning Council until he leave Florida Department of Health in Broward in January of 2019. Currently is the Behavioral Health Interventions Supervisor of High Impacto, Inc. Aponte also is an artist that use his art as a tool of community mobilization towards awareness, education and actions for HIV/AIDS prevention.

Esther Sarteh Ross-Hines works as the Associate Program Manager/Region 10 Network Coordinator at East Carolina University Adult Specialty Care Clinic in Greenville, NC. She helped mobilize 1st ever advocacy team in Eastern North Carolina dubbed “WE Team of the East, Girls on Fire,” women empowerment group tasked with advocating and leveraging policies to help POCLWH achieve and sustain the highest quality of care. Esther is now in her 26th year of surviving, striving and thriving with HIV, living the golden life at the age of 58. Esther as the graduate of NMAC, Building Leaders of Color; HIV 50+ Strong & Healthy Scholar and GLOW (Growing Leadership Opportunities for Women) implemented a project called “LAMPS” (Leaders, Advocating, Mentoring Personal growth & Support) that provided education, using BLOC Curriculum, to empower POCLWH 50+ to mentor other peers become meaningfully involve within service delivery systems and infrastructures that impact POCLWH in Eastern North Carolina.

Franceina Hopkins is a Public Speaker, Outreach Specialist, Advocate, Recruiter, Linkage to Care Specialist, Trainer and a Leader. She was born in a rural area in Hampton County but currently lives in Lexington, SC, also rural. When she came to Columbia, SC, she was introduced to the organization, Women Helping Women, a group linked through LRADAC (Lexington Richland Alcohol Drug Abuse Council). Franceina is a Lead Recruiter for WISE Women (Women in Support of Empowerment) at PALSS (Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services).

Janice Shirley is a Certified Peer Support Specialist for the state of North Carolina and an advance Level Facilitator. Her goals are to continue to work with her brother and sister in this field to ensure they have the necessary information to live and have a comfortable life. She is working toward getting rid of STIGMA in the HIV arena.



Jared Hafen joined the Utah AIDS Foundation as Case Manager in 2014, and became Director of Programming in 2016.  Jared has a master’s in social work from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and has worked in the field of HIV for more than 15 years, beginning as a volunteer in HIV prevention and education at Western Colorado AIDS Project.  In addition to his duties as Programming Director, Jared facilitates a weekly men’s HIV support group, and puts great value in connecting with participants and educating and empowering people living with HIV through the simple acts of respect, compassion, and commitment to serve.

Jeffery Edwards-Knight is a 56-year-old gay, Black male who has lived with HIV for 33 years. He resides in Charlotte, NC where he has lived for 34 years. He works at the Mecklenburg County Health Department where he supervises the HIV/STD community testing and outreach team.



Jeffery A. Haskins is a graduate of Howard and Columbia University. He has held many positions in government, non-profits, and business. He currently works as the Project TEACH Lead Coordinator at Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers. Reverend Haskins is the Pastor of Unity Fellowship of Christ Church Philadelphia. He was a Recovery Counselor for COMHAR (Community Mental Health, Addiction and Rehabilitation). Jeffery is also the Producing Director of PAPA (Producing Association of the Performing Arts) where he has written and starred in his one man show entitled the 26 Project about the number of friends and family members we have lost to the AIDS epidemic. He is a founding member of the New York State, Black Gay Men’s and Health and Human Services Networks.

Joel Caudle knows firsthand the importance of finding support soon after a positive diagnosis. He first connected with Nashville CARES as a client in 2003 after learning he had HIV. He now works as a Medical Case Manager Associate for My House, an offsite health and wellness center operated by Nashville CARES, in conjunction with the organizations Neighborhood Health and Streetworks. As a member of the My House team, Joel offers tailored information and services to same-gender-loving men of color, including STI testing, Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), treatment adherence skills and status disclosure support. Of his work, Joel says, “I use every day that I come to work as an opportunity to empower people with the will to live.”

Joey Pons was diagnosed in 1987 and has been an activist of people living with HIV since then. He began his involvement in New York City with ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). He is a Project Manager in Policy, Strategic Planning and Community Engagement. In his extensive involvement in the field of HIV advocacy, Mr. Pons has participated in countless conferences as a lecturer on Human Rights, HIV/AIDS and Community Organizing. Additionally, he has distinguished himself as a respected lobbyist in matters of human rights and HIV.

Kenneth Johnson is currently a Program Manager at Abounding Prosperity, Inc. He has been working in the field of HIV prevention and care for over 14 years. He also enjoys his role at AP Inc. and, working with his community. As apart of his role he manages an array of projects inclusive of working with the 50+ population living strong with HIV.


Kneeshe Parkinson is a Saint Louis native.  She is a recent graduate with a bachelor’s in liberal studies with emphasis on sociology, psychology and gender studies from the University of Missouri Saint Louis. She is proud of the recent opportunity to be working with Empower Missouri were she is a graduate of the policy fellowship with Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN) a program training and preparing participants to be effective advocates for policy change. In addition to being a PWN policy fellow, she is the PWN State Lead for Missouri.

Since 1997, Michael Smith has worked on two different programs concurrently: a cutting-edge program assisting People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWAs) addressing a variety of work, school, financial topics and concerns called The Phoenix Rising HIV/AIDS Re-entry Project (www.phoenixrisingreentry.org) and is a consultant at The Santa Fe Community Housing Trust’s HOPWA Homebuyer project, a unique program assisting PLWAs to stabilize their finances and obtain homeownership.

Michele Princeton has worked for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland since 2006; her background includes Housing Case Management, Prevention Education, and Program Management. She has been repeatedly recognized for excellence in leading program development, service implementation, advocacy, and supportive counseling. She has served populations presenting a range of psychological disorders as well as emotional, behavioral, substance abuse and developmental challenges.

Miguel Ángel Delgado Ramos Lives in Cidra, Puerto Rico the town of eternal spring.  He has a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of the Sacred Heart in Santurce, PR. Is Co-Founder of the Association of Small Farmers of Rabanal, Inc. He has received medical services at COSSMA, Inc., a community health center since 2003 and joined his Board of Directors in 2014. In September 2018 he was awarded an scholarship by NMAC to  participate in the HIV 50+ Strong and Healthy Program.  Funded by NMAC and in collaboration with COSSMA, INC., and NeoMed Clínic, INC., develop the “VIHVIENDO Fuerte y Saludable” program aimed at HIV positive people over 50.

Ending the Epidemics in Their Memory

This Oct 1st our country will start to build plans to end the HIV epidemic. We are about to write history. This is something that most of us only dreamed about happening. As we work to end the HIV epidemic, I do it in the memory of Michael Hirsch.

(Michael is in the middle next to David Summers, Sal Licata, and Michael Callen. They are all gone).

When I moved to Washington in 1985, I had no idea which way was up. Michael Hirsch was the first person to take me under his wing. He was the quintessential New York activist, and the first executive director of the New York PWA Coalition and The Body Positive. Michael could drive me crazy, make me angrier than I thought possible, and make me laugh until I cried.

He would attend board meetings while still infusing. He wanted to remind the world that HIV was about real people with real problems. Because of Michael, I was accepted into the PWA community. He insisted I attend early organizing meetings that would later become the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA).

Michael would write these long diatribes about life, the movement, his frustrations and joy. They were intimate letters between someone who was dying and someone who would remember. He would close each letter with “Yours in the struggle.”

Then I got the call. If you did AIDS work in the ‘80s or early ‘90s, it’s the call to come to the hospital/hospice/home quickly because your friend is about to pass. The call for Michael happened while I was in Washington. I hopped the shuttle to New York and prayed I would make it on time. The taxi ride from LaGuardia to Saint Vincent’s seemed to last forever.

When I rushed into the hospital, Michael’s mother and sister were sobbing. My heart sank. Was I too late? Just then Rona Affoumado found me, “Oh God, you made it. The family just decided to pull the plug.” I wasn’t too late Rona escorted me into Michael’s room. It was all pumps and whistles from the many machines keeping him alive. It had that funny smell, the smell of death. Michael was unconscious. The morphine stopped the pain so he could sleep. When they turned off the machines, there was an eerie silence. I held Michael’s hand and told him how much I loved him. Just then his eyes opened, and a single tear rolled down his cheek and he was gone.

The nurse later said it was a reflex. To me it was a sign: Michael saying goodbye and to always remember. I close all of my emails with “Yours in the struggle” to honor his life and the lives of so many we’ve lost. The theme for the 2019 United States Conference on AIDS is “Ending The Epidemic in Their Memory.” I remember Michael Hirsch.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata
30 Years of Service


Paul KawataJuly 26, 2019 – NMAC Executive Director Paul Kawata has released the following statement on the revelation that the Border Patrol is separating children from parents living with HIV at the southern border.

“CBP’s decision to separate children based on their parents HIV status is wrong on multiple levels.”

“To start, HIV was removed as a ‘communicable disease’ to ban non-citizens from entering the U.S. nearly a decade ago. HIV can only be passed through vaginal or anal sex or injection drug use. These men and women are no risk to anyone they come into casual contact with.”

“Second, separating people living with HIV from their only support system is disastrous for their health, particularly in stressful and unstable conditions. This separation from their children could drastically impact their health.”

“Finally, we have serious concerns that those in custody living with HIV will receive the medical care they need. Long interruptions in care will endanger their health and their life.”

“NMAC calls on CBP to stop family separations based on HIV status and ensure that anyone in their custody living with HIV receive needed care.”

NMAC leads with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America. Since 1987, NMAC has advanced our mission through a variety of programs and services, including: a public policy education program, national and regional training conferences, a treatment and research program, numerous electronic and print materials, and a website: www.nmac.org. NMAC also serves as an association of AIDS service organizations, providing valuable information to community-based organizations, hospitals, clinics, and other groups assisting individuals and families affected by the HIV epidemic.


NMAC Welcomes 2019 Youth Scholars

NMAC Youth Initiative Logo 2018On behalf of NMAC and our funders – ViiV Healthcare and collaborative partner Advocates for Youth – we are pleased to announce the 2019 Youth Initiative Scholars! This program empowers young leaders in the HIV community with leadership skills and improves HIV and public health literacy to bring back and apply within their communities and organizations.

The 2019 Youth Initiative, now in its ninth year, brings together the next generation of leaders ages 18–25 (known as Youth Scholars) to participate in a seven-month, comprehensive program to help end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. As part of this program, Youth Scholars will gain opportunities to develop leadership, increase their knowledge, and build confidence while integrating key youth-specific messaging in local, state and national HIV/AIDS programs and advocacy agendas.

The Youth Scholars will also attend the U.S. Conference on AIDS (#2019USCA), held September 5-8 in Washington, DC. During the conference, Youth Scholars will participate in sessions meant to advance their leadership skills, build confidence, and learn new ways to prioritize youth within HIV/AIDS programs and policies in their communities.

Congratulations to the scholars for their acceptance into the 2019 Youth Initiative Program!

Brianna R. E. Benjamin is a proud Caribbean native, hailing from the island of Dominica. She is also a recent graduate from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. At the University of Virginia, she majored in Biology. During her time at Uva, she became involved in organizations such as Global Greeters, Soca, the Student Organization for Caribbean Awareness, as well as Residence Life at Uva, amongst others. Through these organizations, she was able to impact the community and utilize her unique skills and talents to make a positive impact. Brianna is very excited to be a part of the 2019 Youth Initiative at NMAC and to use the knowledge gained to improve her community.

William Blakley is the Outreach Coordinator at Positive Connections in Topeka, Kansas. Prior to working for Positive Connections, he was a Certified Nurse Assistant at a hospital in Kansas City. While working at a hospital in Kansas City, William was also attending nursing school at a local community college. At the end of his first year in the program, William received his own HIV diagnosis in 2017. Since joining Positive Connections in January of 2019, William has been very active in the community. William has shared his journey about his HIV diagnosis and shared the stigma that he received in an effort to help combat the stigma that surrounds those living with HIV, specifically in the North East region of Kansas. William’s goal in the next few years is to return to nursing school and finish his bachelor’s degree before continuing and receiving a Nurse Practitioner degree and working in Infectious Disease, specializing in HIV care.

Miracle Bowles is southern lady living in South Carolina, I am a creator of art, through music, jazz and blues are my favorites. I also create through words of one’s soul, though spoken word. Don’t be put off by my youthfulness for the arts of the past, after-all, I have often been told that I was her before. I love positive things and positive thinkers. I believe in things that are true and just for us all. I want to be a NMAC’s Youth Scholar because, to be honest I am new to thinking of myself as an advocate for HIV. Where HIV is apart of my family story journey, and I have family members that work on HIV, mental health, substance abuse fields and have taught us to understand all of these diseases and to educate our friends on prevention and treatment of them all.  As a young women in the arts, I am learning use my art to fight against HIV/AIDS and mental health in my community. I realize I can’t wait for someone else, it’s up me to help address the current view HIV and mental health among my peers. I am building a platform with the hope of shifting the stigma that surrounds HIV and mental health. It’s my plan to amplify the conversations of both of these very stigmatized diseases and other health disparities to throughout south.

Jovana Calvillo joins Youth Initiative as a mental health advocate and community residency counselor at Mclean hospital. She is a recent graduate from Williams College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and public health with interests in HIV, trauma, and chronic mental health issues. She is a member of AFY’s National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) Youth Ambassador Program. On campus, she was a member and a leader in  a plethora of organizations such as the mental health committee, Williams Catholics, and the minority coalition. In addition to founding the first Queer Students of Color organization on campus, she was a member borders and migration working group. She is passionate about the rights of migrants, refugees and all those systematically marginalized by borders. Within her various roles, she worked on educating Queer Youth about HIV stigmatization, worked on transgender rights, and held a trans day of remembrance. Jovana is immensely excited to be a member of the 2019 NMAC and continue her advocacy for marginalized voices.

Nicholas L. Calvin is a native of Nashville, TN. Growing up in Nashville, Nicholas served on the Mayor’s Youth Council and was a member of several organizations including, but not limited to, East Nashville Magnet School’s Allies, SGA, FCA, and the National Honor Society. After graduating from East Nashville Magnet, Nicholas attended Howard University in Washington D.C. where he completed his freshman and sophomore years. While attending Howard, Nicholas worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for United States Congressman Jim Cooper, served as a co-chair for Howard University’s Women’s Week, and became a member of Howard University’s Society of Collegiate Black Men.

Once he returned to Nashville, Nicholas began working at Nashville CARES, an HIV/AIDS non-profit organization with a mission to end the spread of HIV/AIDS in Middle Tennessee. For over 3 years, Nicholas has impacted the lives of man by offering HIV testing, serving as a peer navigator, and granting them access to healthcare and personal care services.
In 2018 Nicholas hosted the first Mahogany Honors Empowerment Gala to honor those of color in the Middle Tennessee area who serve on the front lines in the fights against HIV/AIDS and positive LGBTQ+ progressions. The event is now on its second year and had over 100 guests to attend 2019’s gala with more than $1,500 in proceeds to benefit those in the community.
Nicholas hopes to run for public office to initiate further change.
His favorite quote is, “It’s when things seem worse, that you just don’t quit.”
From the poem, “Don’t Quit”.

Ryan Gamble is a 24 year old male who was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. He graduated from The University of Alabama in August of 2017 with his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies. He decided to go back to school to start earning his Masters in Couples and Family Counseling at the University of Montevallo. After graduating from Undergraduate, Ryan started working at AIDS Alabama as a Near Peer Mentor to assist newly diagnosed adolescents, emerging adults, and individuals that have fallen out of care. He assists his clients with linkage to care, engage in community resources, job readiness, adherence, mentoring, housing, transportation, and anything to help promote client’s holistic well-being. Ryan has also started a youth support group for clients to have a safe space to discuss life challenges, anything retaining to HIV, and engage in the fun things that Birmingham has to offer and enjoy life.

Quintay Knight was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but currently resides in Miami, Florida. Quintay had to move out and grow up at the early age of sixteen. He took the bus and found his first job at Auntie Anne’s where he worked to keep a roof over his head. Finishing high school was a struggle while adulting. Due to hardships, he wasn’t able to finish high school but on April 27th of 2018 Quintay obtain his G.E.D from Sheridan Technical College. He says being apart of the Build A Brother Institute (BABI) really showed him the importance of reclaiming your time and education. In August of 2018, he attended Hollywood Institute of Beauty and Careers where he received his Full Specialist license March of 2019. Quintay says he’s not stopping there, his next goal is to go to college in August of 2019 and obtain his associates in communication, then his bachelors in communication. Quintay plans to use his communication degree to advocate for all those people who have a voice but just don’t know how to use it.

Michael-Lee Martinez will take part in the 2019 Youth Initiative Program. He is a graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio where he received a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. During his time at UTSA, he participated in numerous events with the University’s LGBTQ+ group where he was able to work towards advocacy, visibility and safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students. Being a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community has allowed him to develop a special passion towards both the community and the field of HIV/AIDS. With a striving passion for the community and the field of HIV/AIDS he was lead towards becoming a health intervention specialist at a local HIV/AIDS organization in San Antonio called BEAT AIDS. The mission of BEAT AIDS is to provide to those that are most affected by HIV/AIDS and to those that lack the resources to seek such services. He has now spent over a year with the organization where he participates in STD testing, mobile and street outreach, community events, and facilitating sexual health educational groups. Michael-Lee is thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to participate in NMAC’s 2019 Youth Initiative Program where he is eager to learn new tools and skills that will be useful in his work among the community.

Quintin Mayfield is 24 years old, HIV positive since birth. Quintin is an Actor, writer, Producer and Property Owner. Quintin is a Huge Fan of Whoopi Goldberg and a bigger fan of his Lord JC.  Growing up was tough. Quintin was diagnosed with AIDS at 11 years old. Quintin’s T-Cell count was 14. Today, Quintin is undetectable. Quintin has a strong curiosity to know who else is born with HIV like himself. What can he do to help them grow and how will he continue to grow are questions Quintin asks himself often. In 2011, Quintin was President of the Keystone Club for teens at The Boys and Girls Club of Easton. Also received an award for Youth of the Year in 2012. In 2013, Quintin was the youngest member of Project Teach at Philadelphia Fight also where he received great care. The following year Quintin returned to a group that certified me to teach young adults about HIV and sexual health and Medications. For one semester Quintin was a student at Philadelphia Community College of Philadelphia where he was studying Business and Acting. Quintin has one-year experience with Clinical work at The Perelman Center for Advance Medicine Neuroscience department for Penn Medicine. Currently, Quintin attends classes 3 nights a week for Acting. Quintin really would like to make inspiring, moving impact for everyone through his craft.

Alejandro Muñoz is currently an undergraduate student in Chicago, IL, where he studies Creative Design. He is also a Research Assistant on the #keepingitLITE research study at Cook County Health. Whether at work or school, Alejandro has actively participated in promoting a more inclusive culture for LGBTQ+ employees and students. As a Research Assistant, Alejandro is responsible for the creative design of the study’s print and digital advertisements and overall marketing look and feel. Alejandro is also responsible for managing the study’s social media channels and uses them to post educational and entertaining content for our followers. Lastly, Alejandro manages our at-home rapid HIV test kit mailing system and provides remote HIV triage for reactive cases. Alejandro has previously attended Creating Change, USCA and Youth+Tech+Health, where he has promoted #keepingitLITE and engaged with other youth workers around the country. Alejandro is ecstatic to work at NMAC and help fight stigma and assist in Getting to Zero.

Seandre’ A. Napoleon graduated in the top ten of her graduating class, at Joseph S. Clark High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a youth ambassador for the Media Advocates for Prevention (MAP) at the Institute of Women & Ethic Studies, the program afforded Seandre’ the opportunity to engage, empower, and educate her peers around issues of sexual health. For the past three years, Seandre’ has dedicated her time to volunteer at the Essence Festival HIV testing booth, and for local community-based organizations that focus on HIV prevention in New Orleans. Additionally, she been actively engaged in focusing her interest on amplifying her voice against domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual abuse. Drawing from the medical mistreatment that her aunt received, while battling an AIDS diagnosis, Seandre’ enrolled at Delgado Community College with the hopes of pursuing a degree in the field of nursing. Seandre’ has a longstanding interest in focusing on women’s health, whose healthcare needs are often marginalized by lack of resources and quality care. A vibrant NOLA girl, mother, and Hip-Hop Dancer, she has shifted her role into educating young girls about teenage pregnancy, through mentorship. Seandre’ is often regarded as a humble flower, and lives by her mother’s quote. “Love is like a beautiful painting. It makes you feel warm, and gentle. It stirs the soul, and always welcomes the viewers.” Just like that quote, Seandre’ lives her life in a state of offering warmth, and an open arm of love for individuals in need. Seandre’ is excited to join NMAC Youth Ambassador Program.

Tiffany Newsome is the CEO and founder of “Blossoming In Red Inc.”. A certified phlebotomist; public speaker; direct support professional; community health professional; and patient care assistant. She is also pursuing her degree in Business of Administration. Tiffany is an advocate for people living with HIV and AIDS. She is here to bring her community the knowledge that it’s lacking. Also, to significantly expand access to women and men who are in need of therapy, or who wants to know more about their rights. Furthermore, to expand the understanding of the structure of the government and how federal policy is developed, implemented, and funded. Lastly, to build and maintain relationships with policy makers and stakeholders who have influenced over the advocacy process.

Jacundo Ramos joins NMAC as a youth scholar. Jacundo is a current Biology student at The University of Texas at San Antonio on the Pre-Med route. Jacundo was diagnosed with HIV early February 2017 and has since hit the ground running in advocacy work. Jacundo is currently President of Health Justice Youth Council, a member of End Stigma End HIV Alliance (ESEHA), and started his own support group for individuals on campus living with HIV which turned into Jacundo now working on starting his own non-profit which focuses on the mental health aspects of people living with HIV. Within Jacundo’s roles in these organizations he has been able to uplift and inspire many youth to become active in the LGBTQ+ community and inform and educate themselves on HIV. Even though it comes with hardships Jacundo can proudly say HIV has been a blessing in my life. Jacundo is honored and thankful to be a partner in the fight to end HIV/AIDS and hopes to inspire many throughout his journey.

Elise Rivera represents the aloha state of Hawai’i. She is a 24-year-old, Puerto Rican – Chinese, living on the island of Oahu. She graduated from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa with a BS in Biology and certificate in Tropical Medicine. Her passion for medicine and patient care began as an undergraduate, while working as a medical scribe in the Emergency Department. As a volunteer at free mobile clinics, she learned the importance of patient engagement, outreach and evidence-based interventions. Now as the clinical coordinator and medical assistant at the Hawai’i Health and Harm Reduction Center, the oldest and largest AIDS Service Organization in the state of Hawaii, she works with those disproportionately affected by social determinants of health. She is eager to be a voice in NMAC’s 2019 Youth Initiative and strives to collaboratively foster support in the community to eliminate the structural barriers that affect those living with HIV and their communities. Thank you for offering this opportunity to another young leader from Hawaii. We are always grateful to be included in NMACs Leadership Pipeline.

Sabrina Sloan is an undergraduate student at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. She majors in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication. She is also studying International Relations as her minor. Sabrina shows her advocacy online as the Social Media Coordinator for a community-based organization called Positively U, Incorporated. She is learning how to become a better advocate online and offline. Sabrina Sloan participates in student-led organizations to reinforce her pursuit of making a change such as Sexual Health Alliance Revolutionizing Positivity, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund at FIU, Public Relations Student Society of America and a few more. In participating in these organizations, this has helped her to be socially conscious at a global level for her future career endeavors. Sabrina Sloan is ready to gain more knowledge from the USCA conference to find innovative techniques to help bring more HIV/AIDS awareness to neighborhoods around her.

Devyn Scott graduated from Rossview high school in 2014. After graduation Devyn attended Volunteer State to pursue Emergency Medicine where he developed a passion for HIV prevention and advocacy. He currently has plans to go back to college and continue his education so that he can be better equipped to help his community. Devyn has also served in the United States Navy for a full 4-year term as an aviation aircraft weapons specialist. In his spare time, Devyn loves to dance, rap, and read about science which lead to his passion to meet new people.

Lia Tewelde joins us as a HIV tester and counselor from Brother United Incorporated. She is a recent college graduate from Indiana University, Bloomington. At Indiana University, she earned a degree in Community Health with a minor in Global Health Promotion. During her undergraduate years, she was involved in many extracurriculars such as the Black Student Union, African Student Association, Union Board- Campus Unity and volunteered as a Peer Health and Wellness Educator on campus.
Lia is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Youth Initiative and looks forward to collaboration and professional development in order to better serve her community in Indianapolis.

Reyan De Verteuil is currently a Junior International Affairs Major, Spanish minor at Howard University, Washington, D.C. She was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago and came to the United States to pursue her tertiary education. Reyan decided years ago that she wanted to pursue her bachelor’s and graduate degrees in the United States because she has always been intent on experiencing new things, cultures and people and broadening her scope of the world. This decision has proven to be fruitful as during her mere two years at University she has been exposed to a plethora of amazing opportunities. Since beginning her matriculation at Howard University, she has been able to complete a semester abroad studying International Relations in Barcelona, Reyan had the pleasure of representing her school at the Model United Nations Conference in Washington, DC, and provided community service at various organizations. With her degree in international affairs, she intends to pursue a career in either law or foreign services- or hopefully find a career that blends both.

Darnell Wallace is 21 years old, born in Detroit MI, where he currently lives. Darnell was born with drugs in his system and moved into foster care. Growing up for him was difficult. Darnell graduated high school and attended Gerald R Ford Job Corps Center where he received his C.N.A. certification. During this time, he was diagnosed with HIV. After Darnell’s diagnosis, he joined the Southeastern Michigan HIV/Aids Council where he helped plan Southeastern Michigan’s Ryan White budget. Darnell also would assist with pride events such as Motors City’s Pride and Hotter Than July pride spreading awareness. Darnell believes that with great minds working together, if given the proper resources and opportunity, we can end the HIV virus. Being a young voice for HIV awareness helps his own journey to have the courage to stand up and speak about experiences someone else may experience.

Natalie Wallenfang is a born and raised Las Vegas native. Natalie is a current Master of Social Work student at the University of Nevada- Las Vegas with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology. Natalie’s background is in substance abuse counseling to women and working with their children to adjust to a new lifestyle. Natalie currently works as a Family Development Specialist at a non- profit Therapeutic Foster Care agency in Las Vegas. She also works closely with the Southern Nevada Health District and Clark County’s juvenile detention center to teach HIV and teen pregnancy prevention programs to incarcerated youth twice a week. Bringing awareness to important topics like HIV and safe sex to at risk and underprivileged youth is something Natalie has been passionate about since graduating high school. Natalie is thrilled to begin the journey with NMAC in this Youth Initiative in helping bring attention to HIV/ AIDS

Kendrick Washington is a recent graduate from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. During his studies at Indiana University Bloomington, he majored in community Health. During his time at Indiana University Kendrick was involved in many organizations such as being a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., College Mentors for Kids, EMT program, and etc. With being an active college student, he was able to leave a legacy on my campus, by being there for the community as a whole. Kendrick also spent time volunteering for Saving Orphans Through Healthcare and Outreach, Timmy Global Health, and Peace Learning Center of Indianapolis. Throughout his volunteer experience he has been able to travel to Swaziland, Africa to gain international experience on HIV/STI education and is very excited to participate in the NMAC Youth Initiative this September at the 2019 USCA.

Michelle Young is a 22 year old activist from Indianapolis, IN, who fights and speaks for the rights of transgender women, especially trans women of color. She went through extensive training to become a certified HIV tester which later emerged her in the HIV field, testing clients and speaking at events educating people on HIV and HIV prevention. She has spoken at colleges and high schools on LGBT issues and matters. She hopes to inspire and change the way people view trans people by being a positive light, intelligent, empowered trans woman showcasing that LGBT individuals deserve a spot at the table just like everyone else.