Anniversary Year Activities Will Pay Tribute to Heroes in the AIDS Response, Focus National Attention on HIV in Communities of Color
Twenty years after it was founded to respond to the virtual silence surrounding HIV/AIDS in America’s communities of color, the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) is unveiling a new logo and announcing a year-long program of activities to commemorate its twenty years in the fight against HIV/AIDS, while re-focusing the nation’s attention on the continuing impact of the disease in communities of color. Today, minorities account for 59% of males and 81% of females living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.
NMAC’s new logo, featured above, also incorporates a special tagline for the anniversary year, “Twenty Years of Building Healthier Communities.” Composed of NMAC’s traditional blue and green tones, the new design highlights the words “Minority” and “Communities,” to focus attention on the driving force behind all of NMAC’s work – the strength, health and well-being of the nation’s vital minority communities.
NMAC began in 1987 at an emergency meeting of activists, educators and public health experts in the trailer park of a Las Vegas hotel. The group was responding to the fact that the American Association of Public Health (AAPH) was addressing HIV/AIDS for the first time that year, but had not included a single representative of communities of color in its program. From those humble but determined beginnings, NMAC now consists of more than 400 member organizations and serves thousands of others, providing information, training and services to improve HIV prevention and care in communities of color. In addition to organizing two annual national conferences, NMAC operates dozens of programs to improve responses to AIDS in minority communities, including:
– Capacity assessment and support to strengthen minority AIDS organizations; – Regional and national training programs for care and education providers;
– A state of the art website – www.nmac.org – that is accessed by nearly 100,000 unique visitors each month;
– Print and electronic publications, tools, manuals, guides and resources; and
– A collaborative women’s program, funded by the Ford Foundation, to build advocacy among women living with HIV, and a prison initiative providing prevention, treatment education and training to prison healthcare providers and inmates.
“NMAC’s twentieth anniversary provides a unique opportunity to remember and honor the people who came before us; pay tribute to our constituents, who do amazing work every day on the front lines of the epidemic; and focus new attention on the challenges our constituents face,” says Paul Kawata, who has served as the organization’s executive director since 1989.
Among the programs announced today for the year-long anniversary commemoration are the following:
February: NMAC Details 20th Anniversary Activities on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. On February 7th, National Black AIDS Day, NMAC will announce its anniversary activities and honor National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with a special dedicated home page on its website. Also in February, NMAC will announce the new Minority HIV/AIDS Policy Partnership, which will include the participation of NAACP, National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Asian American Justice Center, United Church of Christ, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and others committed to improving the national response to HIV/AIDS in minority communities.
March: Open House. NMAC host an open house for its constituents in the Washington, DC area, inviting them to tour the agency’s facilities as well as share stories about their challenges and successes.
April: Launch of Online History Museum & Capitol Hill Briefing. In April, NMAC will launch an online history museum, containing pictures and “testimonials” from members and constituents who have worked with NMAC over the past two decades and recall the high and low moments of their communities’ struggle with HIV/AIDS. NMAC will provide a twentieth anniversary briefing on the organization, its programs, our members, and the state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in communities of color for members of Congress, their staffs and media on Capitol Hill in April.
May: HIV Prevention Leadership Summit (HPLS). This year’s annual HPLS meeting takes place May 20-23 in New Orleans, a city devastated both by natural disasters and government neglect. Since Katrina struck, NMAC has helped organizations throughout the region to remain open and strong for the large number of African American and Latino clients they serve. National Asian/Pacific Islander Day (May 19th) also will be a special focus at HPLS this year.
June: Salute to Former Employees and Board Members. In June, NMAC salutes the women and men without whose contribution the organization could never have achieved what it has.
July: Capital/Endowment Campaign Reception. A VIP twentieth anniversary reception this month recognizes the contributors and corporate sponsors who make NMAC’s work possible.
August: Reporters/Editors Luncheon. NMAC meets with local and regional news media in August, to brief the editors and reporters on our activities and the needs of our constituents.
September: Capitol Hill Outreach. This month, NMAC meets with the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus to brief members on the HIV epidemic and the needs and activities of our members and constituents.
October: Logo or AIDS Ribbon Statues/Art. NMAC commemorates National Latino AIDS Awareness Day and invites minority artists to paint, sculpt, and/or design the NMAC logo and/or the AIDS Ribbon. The artworks will be auctioned at the anniversary gala in November.
November: US Conference on AIDS (USCA) and Memorial Quilt Unveiling. NMAC’s USCA, the largest annual HIV/AIDS meeting in the United States and a key source of information and support for frontline workers in minority communities, will feature a plenary recognizing the work of its members over the past 20 years and focusing on how to eliminate the threat of HIV in communities of color in the future. NMAC also will unveil its contribution to the AIDS Quilt at that time. USCA takes place November 7-10, in Palm Springs, CA.
November 29: Gala, Auction and The Future. NMAC’s 20th anniversary year culminates in a gala and auction to retire the mortgage on NMAC’s Washington, DC facilities. Funds raised at the DC-based gala will help ensure that NMAC remains open, active, and financially stable for its members and constituent organizations, for as long as the AIDS crisis continues. Legendary performer Patti LaBelle is slated to receive an award and perform at the event to coincide with World AIDS Day.
“AIDS has given us very little to celebrate,” notes Kawata. “We believe it is important, however, to step back, take stock, and commemorate heroes past and present in this fight. We are also working together, in this anniversary year, to re-commit to ending this epidemic and eliminating the need for organizations like NMAC before another anniversary like this one comes around.”
The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) was founded in 1987 to develop leadership within communities of color to address challenges of HIV/AIDS. NMAC has responded to the needs of communities of color by developing programs aimed at enhancing the skills necessary to confront this health crisis, including a public policy education program, national and regional training conferences, treatment and research programs and trainings, numerous publications and a website: www.nmac.org. Today, NMAC is an association of AIDS service organizations providing valuable information to community- based organizations, hospitals, clinics and other groups assisting people and families living with and affected by the AIDS epidemic. NMAC’s advocacy efforts are funded through private funders and donors only.