2023-2024 HIV 50+ Strong & Healthy Program New Members

NMAC is pleased to announce the 2023 HIV 50+ Strong and Healthy cohort. These individuals were part of a competitive application process. The 50+ Strong and Healthy program started in the summer of 2016, and the 2023 affiliate constitutes the eighth cohort. Since the program’s launch, we have fostered leadership and built community through projects like mini-grants, peer health education events, the National HIV and Aging Advocacy Network (NHAAN), social media campaigns, and webinars around HIV and aging topics. This year, we will continue to engage, educate, advocate, and mobilize this year’s HIV 50+ Scholars, as well as 50+ Scholars from past years.

We are also excited to announce that NMAC awarded scholarships specifically to a group of Lifetime Survivors, people who have been living with HIV since birth or early childhood, to attend USCHA and to support their organizing efforts in developing an advocacy agenda. We are happy to support the work of this community.

NMAC takes accountability and transparency seriously. That’s why, as we go through the selection process to select the HIV 50+ Scholars, we make sure that those selected represent the communities most impacted by the HIV epidemic. This year’s HIV 50+ cohort is comprised of individuals aging with HIV and who advocate for PLWH over the age of 50 and/or other Long-Term Survivors. As always, the cohort is made up of a mix of returning 50+ Scholars new Scholars.

  • Age: A majority of the 50+ Scholars belong to the age group of 55-64 (43%). People aged 45-54 make up 39% of the cohort, while folks 65+ make up almost one fifth of the cohort (18%). The age ranges of the Lifetime Survivors range from 24-37.
  • Gender: From the selected group of 50+ Scholars, 50% identify as female, while 44% identify as male. TGNC folks made up 6% of selected Scholars. 82% of the Lifetime Survivors contingency identify as female and 18% identify as nonbinary.
  • Sexual orientation: The cohort is evenly split, 50/50, between people who identify as queer (gay, lesbian, bi+, Same-Gender Loving, pansexual, Two-Spirit) and people who identify as heterosexual.
  • Geography: Scholars represent 22 different states and Puerto Rico.
  • b54% of the 50+ cohort is Black/African American, 20% is Latinx, 14% is White, 6% is AAPI, 4% is Native American/Alaska Native, and 2% is Middle Eastern/North African (MENA). In keeping with USCHA’s focus this year, Black Women make up 40% of the cohort, the largest of any group. Black Men (14%) and Latinx Men (14%) are the next two largest groups of Scholars. 70% of the Lifetime Survivors cohort is Black/African American and 40% identify as Afro-Latinx or Latinx.

We congratulate and welcome these Scholars and we look forward to working with all of them.

50+ Strong & Healthy Cohort 2023

Aaron Teran – San Diego, CA
My name is Raul Aaron Teran, and I am a native of the Tijuana/San Diego Border. I was born in Tijuana, Mexico but was raised in San Diego. I became a Registered Nurse in August of 2016, and ten months later I began to work for San Ysidro Health where I currently work as the HIV RN Supervisor of the HIV/Infectious Disease Dept. I love my job and enjoy going to work knowing that I am making a difference in my community.


Alicia Diggs – Burlington, NC
Alicia Diggs is a native of Philadelphia, PA but resides in North Carolina. Alicia has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, a master’s degree in Public Health and has completed doctoral courses for a PhD in Public Health with a focus in Advocacy and Leadership. Alicia works for the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Center for AIDS Research (UNC-CFAR) as the Manager for the Office of Community Engagement. Alicia is a local, national, and global speaker and subject matter expert for HIV and AIDS. She is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA{pronounced POTCHA}), a member of the REPRIEVE Community Advisory Board and Publications Committee, the North Carolina State Lead for the Positive Women’s Network-USA and Policy Fellow, a member of U.S. PLWH Caucus, a Sero Project Justice Institute Graduate, Co-Chair of the HIV Prevention Community Advisory Council (HPCAP {pronounced HIP CAP), Chair of the National Community Advisory Board (NCAB) for the MACS/WIHS {pronounce WISE} Combined Co-Hort Study, SisterLove 2020 Leading Women’s Society Alumnae, and a participant of “I’m Still Surviving” a living women’s history of HIV/AIDS. Alicia is also a published author of an autobiography entitled, Standing on My Healing: From Tainted to Chosen.

Andy Roybal – San Antonio, TX
Hi, I’m Andy Roybal and I’m a healthy living advocate for people living with HIV. I live in San Antonio, TX.


Angela Asbell – Detroit, MI
I am a Cultural Stigma Coach, the first of its kind. I work with people of all ages, teenagers to people 50+. I coach PLWH about HIV-related stigma. My goal is to help EHE and help equip PLWH with the necessary tools to succeed in life.



Bernardo Gomez – Los Angeles, CA
Just turned 50 Years old. I’ve been living with HIV since 1996! I’ve worked in HIV Prevention since 2000 and am currently working with The Wall/Las Memorias as an HIV Testing Project Coordinator.


Bobby Avalos – Orange, CA
My name is Bobby and I have been HIV Positive since 2003. I’m an Artist, Leader, and Peer Advocate for Aging Adults living with HIV and Substance Abuse, here in Orange County, CA. As a Peer Leader, I challenge myself in my own care and education and am passionate about helping and serving the HIV Aging Community through: Advocacy, Prevention, Peer Support, Life Experience, and Compassion. I enjoy being a part of a community whose goal is ending the HIV Epidemic. What do I bring to the Table? I bring a vast range of Multicultural Involvement’s and Experience with my own HIV Journey, as well as my Peer Work within the HIV Aging Community.

Bobby Pierce – Texarkana, TX
Bobby is the Community Engagement Director for Engaging Arkansas Communities. He is passionate about advocating for comprehensive healthcare and support services for people thriving with and aging with HIV. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University, Northridge. He is a member of numerous health coalitions and advocacy groups including the National HIV & Aging Advocacy Network and currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Director for Special Health Resources of Texas.

Brenda Chambers – St. Helens, OR
I am a white straight female who is an advocate for women living with HIV who are over 50 years of age. I am a grandmother of 10 and a mother of four. I ran an HIV program for 6 years for Native Americans and participate in the Aging Well program at Cascade AIDS Project. I am a happy, well-adjusted woman who is single.



Cecilia Lygons – Houston, TX
Cecilia Ligons was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and AIDS in 2000. Mrs. Ligons lived in denial of the disease until 2003. Her resolve was to “suffer in silence, no one needed to know.” Cecilia has served as a member of the Ryan White Planning Council for sixteen years and is the first HIV+ African American female to be elected as chair of the Council. She founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called Living Without Limits Living Large, an HIV/AIDS heterosexual support and referral group, in January 2006. She has served on numerous boards, planning groups, CABs, councils, and committees locally, statewide, and nationally. She currently works as a Case Manager at Corder Place Apartments Houston Supportive Housing.


Chauncey McGlathery – Atlanta, GA
Chauncey McGlathery studied Electrical Engineering at Auburn University, then practiced federal civil rights law in New York before receiving training in Social Justice Theory and Practice from many institutions including Harvard University, Tufts University, and the Interaction Institute. Most recently, he taught in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at Boston College. As a public health policy manager, Chauncey develops and implements voter education and advocacy training, and partners with the agencies to develop a statewide policy agenda and needs assessment for marginalized populations while working with stakeholders and collaborative participants to develop a set of highly strategic, targeted, and achievable advocacy goals and policy priorities.


Chuck Albrecht – Phoenix, AZ
I first began volunteering and advocating for PLWHAs in 1985. Shortly after beginning my volunteer activities, I was hired by AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati as a Case Manager and was promoted to Executive Director in 1989. I also served as Executive Director for Tampa AIDS Network and as Chief Operating Officer for the Alzheimer’s Association. I was the first HIV/AIDS Case Manager in Ohio. Some highlights from my time as Executive Director for ASOs included starting the first women’s HIV education and outreach program in Ohio and implementing multi-agency Case Management collaborations in both Ohio and Florida. I have served on the Board of the AIDS Action Council, advocated for the Ryan White CARE Act and HOPWA through national and community level advocacy efforts, Chaired Title II Consortium and Title I Planning Council and committees, Chaired Advocate for Sound AIDS Policy (ASAP), and Chaired the Florida AIDS Action Council. I continued my professional and volunteer activities in the HIV/AIDS arena until my retirement in 2019. In retirement, I have served as the Chair of the Training, Education, and Membership Committee for the Greater Phoenix Ryan White HIV Services Planning Council, served on that entity’s Executive Committee, and served as their HIV Consumer Representative. My educational background includes degrees in Medical Technology, Zoology and a Master’s in Business Administration. I am a recipient of Lydia Grant Humanitarian Award, the Ohio AIDS Service Award, and the Florida AIDS Service Starfish Award.

Claude Bowen – Lithonia, GA
Innovative and cutting-edge Spiritual leader and Community Advocate whose Social Justice and community involvement has attained accommodations from the Inland Empire Gay and Lesbian Democratic Association, Catholic Charities in the cities of Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles as well as the California State Office of AIDS. Cofounder of Ubuntu a consulting firm to continue the work in HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education and Life Coaching. Scholar of the Center of Disease Control HIV Learning Institute. Co-author of the THRIVESS Silver Lining Project. I hold a Bachelor of Psychology (emphasis on Human Behavior Analysis), ordained and licensed Minister.


Clarence Ruff – Detroit, MI
Hello, my name is Clarence Ruff, I’m 73 years old and I was diagnosed with HIV in 1986. I acquired HIV from IV substance use. I’ve been a PLWH for 37 years and my goal is to help bring about a different narrative of acceptance for PLWH.


Cynthia Rodgers – Bessemer, AL
Cynthia E. Rodgers is a masterful storyteller, a skilled trainer of trainers and a published author with nearly twenty-five years of program management experience. She has co-authored several grants to secure multiple funding streams for patient care, staff retention and community education serving vulnerable populations throughout Alabama. Her provision of psychosocial services, disease management and comprehensive sexual health education has lent to the retention of People Living with HIV in medical care.

Cynthia’s leadership training expertise has afforded her opportunities to offer consultancy throughout Alabama and to many national entities. Her work with pharmaceutical companies as a contracted speaker expounding on the risks and benefits associated with antiretroviral medications and strategies to counter the challenges inherent to managing a chronic illness has positively impacted many lives throughout the nation.

She currently serves as an HIV program manager for Alabama Regional Medical Services-one of the most enduring Federally Qualified Health Centers in Alabama.


David Martin – New York, NY
David Martin is a health equity and human rights advocate, which stems from his professional involvement with health, arts, and cultural organizations in the Greater New York region for more than 25 years. Currently, he serves as a mayoral appointee to the HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council of New York, and for the past three years has been elected as its Consumer at Large. David takes great pride in making a positive difference for the benefit of others who are marginalized and underserved. He is committed to addressing the unmet needs of PWH by working to increase awareness, lessen inequities, and magnify the focus on creating better health outcomes through his input on service directives and policies for New Yorkers, who, predominately, are HIV long-term survivors.

David is also a member of the New York State AIDS Institute’s Quality of Care Consumer Advisory Committee and a consultant with the Stigma and Resilience (STAR) Coalition’s project team at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. In 2021, he joined NYU Langone Health to become a facilitator for its Chronic Disease Self-Management Program for PLWH. Recently, having joined SAGE as its SAGEPositive Program Coordinator, David has several opportunities to put his knowledge and 36 years of lived experience to good use by assisting LGBTQ+ elders in securing appropriate health care, and getting them access to the programs and services that they need and certainly deserve.

With its recent launch by PeerView Institute for Medical Education, David provides insight as a patient and advocate in the newly released certified training activity titled, “Retaining and Re-Engaging People Living With HIV in Care: A Unique Look at Challenges and Opportunities From the Perspective of the Patient, Navigator, and Provider.” This has been an encouraging and inspiring journey working with so many amazing and dedicated health professionals. I am excited at the potential of reaching a broader community to share and uplift colleagues who are doing great work and have genuine concern and compassion for the community. May you all continue to achieve success and better the health of others. Many thanks for all of the support.


Denise Drayton – Brooklyn, NY
Denise Drayton has been working in the field of HIV/AIDS for over 25 years: She began working at Exponents Inc. an AIDS Service and Harm Reduction Organization with the ARRIVE Program. During her employment with Exponents, she has held positions as one of the lead developers and Assistant Project Director of the PWA Leadership Training Institute and Director of Education and Prevention of ARRIVE Training Program.. Ms. Drayton has been HIV+ for 30 years and is a formerly retired person who returned to the workforce at 70yrs.old She has worked at Senior Planet/Older Adults Technology Services and as a Peer Educator/Community Liaison at ACRIA Centers at GMHC conducting workshops and presentations on Older Adults on Sexual Health and HIV Prevention. Ms. Drayton has served on the Board of Directors of Exponents Inc, AIDS Medicine & Miracles Advisory Board, Consumer Advisory Board for New York Presbyterian Hospital. She is also a member of the Gilead Peer Advocate Network Speaker Education Ambassador Program and a member of the NMAC 50+Strong and Healthy Scholars Program, she recently joined the National HIV&Aging Advocacy Network Training of Trainers Committee. Denise is a person of faith and attends Emmanuel Baptist Church, Brooklyn, where she is the Program Coordinator Consultant for Healing Touch HIV/AIDS Ministry She finds HIV Prevention Education and Advocacy very rewarding and feels blessed to have the ability as a HIV+ Older Adult to work in a field that is very important to her and be able to provide representation to her community.


Edward Lowry – Philadelphia, PA
Edward Lowry is a 61-year-old African American man and US Military Veteran who was diagnosed with HIV in 1998. Eddie received his formal training in advocacy through Philadelphia FIGHT’s adult health literacy program known as Project TEACH (Treatment Education Activists Combatting HIV). His advocacy began in 2003, promoting quality healthcare for people living with HIV who were incarcerated. He continues to support returning citizens with linkage to healthcare and Re-entry services. Eddie is a long-time member of ACT-UP Philadelphia where his advocacy broadened to include all marginalized groups of people- along the social justice spectrum. Currently, Eddie is a Peer Specialist and a Certified Mental Health Recovery Specialist and has provided support for Veterans and other community members living with HIV, AIDS, mental health disorders and substance abuse. Eddie is the co-founder of a Philadelphia- based advocacy support group for heterosexual men living with HIV known as “Philadelphia Positive Men’s initiative.” He attended the International AIDS Conference in South Africa, where he advocated to end HIV Criminalization. He is a member of The Reunion Project where he supports the development a national alliance of Long-Term Survivors – alongside his wife of 16 years, Waheedah Shabazz-El.

Franklin Sampley – Indianapolis, IN
I got involved with HIV issues in about 1984. Helping to found the San Joaquin AIDS Foundation in California. Since then I have worked in various positions in different NPO’s to address HIV and AIDS issues. I currently work with Affirming Christian Fellowship as the director of the HIV/AIDS Ministry. We seek to provide individual support and ministry support to affiliated churches and ministries. I’m on the Marion County Ryan White Planning Council, a part of USPLHIV, and NHAAN.


Ivette O. Chavez Gonzalez – Buffalo, NY
I am a Peer Outreach Worker for a SSP in Buffalo, NY at Evergreen Health and I am the Founder and Executive Director of my own harm reduction community organization called The Giving Back Foundation. I am currently in recovery, but I used drugs and was in and out of the system for over 30 years. I provide sterile supplies, HIV prevention and treatment education and linkage, and most importantly a non-judgmental, loving space for community members to come to me. I am living with HIV and a proud Puerto Rican woman. I love my community in Buffalo, and I would do anything to make sure my people get what they need to live their lives safely and with love. I am also a Peer Leader with VOCAL-NY, where I take part in direct actions and lobbying days to advocate for policies that will improve the livelihood of People Who Use Drugs and People Living with HIV in New York State.


Jamie Collins – Dallas, TX
My name is Jamie Collins. I am a 54-year-old African American Trans Woman living in Dallas, Texas. I became an advocate for people living with HIV AIDS in the 1990’s as I watched many friends and family members die from the disease as well as being treated poorly by hospital doctors and staff. I was diagnosed with HIV in 2012. And I continue to serve my community through the committees, organizations and boards that I’m a part of.

Joseph Robinson – College Park, GA
I’m a native New Yorker (born and raised in NYC). I’ve lived in Oakland, California, Tampa, Florida and now reside in Atlanta, GA. My background is fluid, 20+ years in financial services, 15 years as a travel consultant and dual 20+ years volunteering/advocating/working within the HIV spectrum. Over the past 20 years, I’ve served on various committees and groups as it relates to HIV. In addition to attending the Black AIDS Institute, I served as Chairperson of the Sacrament HIV Planning Council and the Co-Chair of NIH’S Adult Clinical Trials- Community Constituency Group. I’m currently a member of the American Academy of HIV Medicine’s Community Advisory Group and the Atlanta EMEA Planning Council and the manager of the Silver Lining Project in Atlanta, GA, and the THRIVE SS program.


Joyce Belton – Columbia, SC
Joyce Belton was born in Columbia SC, and after testing positive for HIV in 1994, she had to start to advocate for her needs to be meet, including going to Capitol Hill to get the Legislature to reauthorize the Ryan White Care Act. Then, she worked on the AIDS Alliance Corp. training program, Common Threads, Wise Woman, Positive Voices advocacy group. She has served as a Gilead ambassador, an HIV Is Not A Crime ambassador, and serves in Positive Women’s Network USA-South Carolina chapter.



Kneeshe Parkinson – Saint Peters, MO
Kneeshe Parkinson is the Founder of RISE Impact, a motivational speaker, Certified Life Coach, Trainer, Facilitator, Activist, and Founder of KneesheSpeaksSTL~2018. Kneeshe is an awardee of the BALSA Foundation where she has invested her time over a 10-week Cohort and received a cash award of $1000.00 in seed start-up funding for her non-profit. Kneeshe Parkinson has nearly two decades of catalyzing individuals in the areas of health, education, and emotional well-being. Her passion is implementing programs that positively influence underlying social determinants of health. Kneeshe believes that all black women have the right to sustain a quality of life and be able to manifest healthy lifestyle and RISE to their FULL potential.


Lacretia Springer – Memphis, TN
Lacretia Lamour is of Black and Chinese descent born on September 29, 1947, and raised in Tupelo, MS. In her youth, she joined the army and attended Lane College, where she studied Business Management and a minor in Spanish. Lacretia was involved in voter rights during the Civil Rights era and later became a barber and cosmetology instructor. At the height of her career, she was a platform artist for Hawaiian Silky hair products. Lacretia has traveled extensively, spending some time all over the United States and Europe. Lacretia is a survivor of anti-trans violence and domestic violence. Now, Lacretia resides in Memphis, TN, where she is the Manager of the volunteers at WeCareTn and also an HIV Educator and Prevention Specialist. She also works with pageant contestants teaching them refinement and runway walks. Lacretia is a recent honoree of the Torch Award at the National Trans Visibility March in Los Angeles, CA. She also received the Living Legend Award at Trans Girls Rock Gala. Lacretia still impacts the Black TLGBQIA community as a beacon of inspiration for a new generation as a 75 yo unapologetic Trans person.


LaTrischa Miles – Kansas City, MO
LaTrischa Miles, BBA, CHW, is a Manager of Treatment Adherence at Kansas City CARE Health Center. She has over 20 years of experience in HIV services and is nationally recognized with expertise in training, supervision, advocacy, treatment adherence, and community education.

Ms. Miles brings her knowledge and skills in creating materials and peer learning modules for improving literacy and engagement in care. Additionally, she has provided Technical Assistance to organizations in Florida, Missouri, Atlanta, Texas, Boston, and California; specifically for the University of California San Francisco research staff and for persons living with HIV and AIDS to become Peer Educators.

Ms. Miles has worked on Social Justice and Human Rights since hosting the first public meeting in Kansas City, on December 8, 2011, bringing awareness and proposing changes to antiquated HIV Criminal laws in the state of Missouri. She is the founder of the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition (whose tagline is Change the Law; End the Stigma). She has frequently testified at the Capitol in Jefferson City to legislators on the Health and Judiciary Committees and is proud to say that the Governor of Missouri signed the bill last year to modernize existing HIV criminal statutes making the law consistent with science as well as adopting other changes in the law.

Ms. Miles is one of 28 Co-founders of the U.S. Positive Women’s Network (PWN) established in 2008 and is the current Board Co-Chair. She also serves as a Board member for Hope Care Center, a skilled nursing facility providing senior care services. She is the founder and President of GRACE of Greater Kansas City, a Women’s monthly support group. Ms. Miles received the following awards and honorees: the Martin Luther King Honoree “Keeping the Dream Alive Award”– Medicine/Health Care from the American Businesswomen’s Association, an Honoree member of the 2020 Leading Women’s Society whose focus is mentoring advocates and providing leadership, the Mark Dreiling Award for Community Leadership from the AIDS Service Foundation of Kanas City, the Elaine Aber Humanitarian Award recognized for steadfast advocacy in HIV Criminalization work with Empower Missouri for humane treatment. Her hobbies are reading and running. She enjoys spending time with her family. Ms. Miles is a speaker and volunteer in several organizations.


Lilieth Conolly – Santa Monica, CA
Lilieth Conolly was born in Mullins River, Belize. She is the youngest of three children born to a proud mother and father of Caribbean descent. As Founder and CEO of the Helen Agnes Center of Hope Ministry, which is now merged with the You Can Live Outreach Program, she has many accomplishments that represent her greatness. Her work includes serving as a Community Health Outreach Worker for Prototypes/WARN (Women’s AIDS Reduction Network) and being employed at the LGBTQ Center, as Pre/Post Test Counselor. She facilitates discussion groups on topics surrounding HIV/AIDS education and prevention as well as a host of other issues affecting women’s health. Ms. Conolly also serves on the LA County Commission on HIV. Ms. Conolly has brought awareness to countless numbers of women and young people who have tested positive for HIV through her social media platforms, webinars, and in person. She has also had the distinguished privilege of serving as an Executive Board Member for Women at Risk in Los Angeles, California. As of this writing, she currently holds a Seat as an Unaffiliated Consumer on the LA County Commission on HIV. She continues to share her personal experiences, testimonies, as well as trials and errors. She believes that God has a plan for her life, and she has gained strength and hope by advocating and educating others on HIV/AIDS. As long as Stigma exists… she will be standing right there on the Front.

Linda Williams – Deltona, FL
As a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and having been diagnosed with HIV in 1994, I personally understand the challenges and barriers of maintaining health and wellness, while thriving as a person living with HIV. I also understand the constant need to engage in federal, state, and local efforts to secure systemic policy changes, along with strategic investments necessary for the reduction of HIV-related health disparities and the intersectional stigma resulting from HIV and ageism.

Born in Washington, DC, but raised in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, I have been a passionate Community Leader for many years. Migrating to the South more than thirty years ago, I have served my local communities in various capacities; including civil rights activism, advocacy, serving on the Panelist for the Foster Care Citizen Review Board, a certified Guardian Ad Litem for the Forth Judicial Circuit Court in the State of Florida, and a community outreach worker (including mentoring and special programs coordinator).

In addition, I have been involved with HIV advocacy and public policy for over a decade, while volunteering as a Community Leader, chairing multiple committees, and serving as a senior officer on the Jacksonville and Atlanta Area HIV Health Services Planning Councils. I am continuing my passion for community service to greatly impact those living with and affected by HIV and have completed the NMAC ELEVATE Training as well as currently participating in the NMAC ESCALATE Experience for further equipping.


Luis Villanueva – Cathedral City, CA
I grew up in the Coachella Valley. My father was from Michoacán, Mexico, mom from Vallejo, CA. As an undergraduate in Sociology, I wrote my thesis the history of queer Latinx organizations in San Diego, CA. In Latin American Studies, I wrote my master’s thesis on Brazilian male escorts (aka michê) selling sex online in Western Europe. For five years at two different campuses, I taught part time in Sociology and LGBTQ Studies. In Anthropology, my dissertation topic was on Latino immigrant MSM living with HIV in the Coachella Valley, not completed due to having to care for my late mother. I co-facilitated a discussion group for long time survivors and founded a support group for Latino men.


Marcia Gullatte – Birmingham, AL
Marcia Gullatte has a Master of Social Work degree and Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Ms. Gullatte was diagnosed with HIV in January 1994. Ms. Gullatte has two children, both after learning about her HIV status and both are HIV negative. She has one grandson who brings sunshine to the day.

Ms. Gullatte is the co-founder of her own HIV non-profit organization, Radiant Open-Minded Self-Assured Empowerment (R.O.S.E.) HIV/AIDS Project (1996 – 1998), she went on to work for AIDS Survival Project in Atlanta, Georgia as an Outreach Coordinator and later Program Manager, Treatment Education, next she worked as a Community Liaison for Dupont Pharmaceuticals and Bristol Myers Squibb. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s Ms. Gullatte appeared on The Oprah Show, and was featured in articles in News Week, the New York Times, and Marie Claire Magazine . She has spoken at the United Nations, many churches, schools, and national conferences, such as the United States Conference on AIDS.

Currently Ms. Gullatte is working as a volunteer as a community health worker and support group facilitator for several organizations. Ms. Gullatte has served on several committees and boards since being diagnosed with HIV. She has served on the UAB Research (ACTG) CAB in Birmingham, AL, the Grady ACTG CAB, and the CPCRA CAB in Atlanta, GA. Ms. Gullatte served on the Ryan White Planning Council in Atlanta, Ga and the MLK March Committee. Additionally, she served on the Georgia 2000 Census Complete Count Committee just to name a few. Ms. Gullatte speaks from her heart, sharing, courage, strength, and hope. She is a passionate advocate to remove the walls of stigma, one brick (person) at a time, that surround HIV and mental illness due to ignorance.


Mary Lucero-Hill – Denver, CO
Mary Lucero-Hill is a Ryan White Case Manager with 10 years’ experience in metro and rural Colorado and has been living with HIV since 2002. Mary helps newly diagnosed individuals to long-term survivors, and everyone in between, get connected to services and remain in care. Mary is an advocate fighting for the rights of the People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWH), LGBTQ+, people of color, marginalized groups, aging HIV population, and individuals in her community. Mary is a former member of the Colorado Alliance Committee. She is an active member of PWN-CO, and recently part of the Case Management and Oral Health Standards of Care Review Committees; Disrupting/Reducing Inequalities and Improving Health Outcomes for PLWH COHAS Workgroups; and a participant of the HIV Case Management Assessment Advisory Committee for the Denver Metro area. Mary was elected to be the Co-Chair for the Improving Health Outcomes for PLWH COHAS Workgroup. Mary’s focus is to be an educator of external and internal stigma related to HIV and those affected by it, and an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. Mary enjoys peace and solitude on the weekends, which contributes to rejuvenating her spirit to continue the work she does. Mary enjoys collecting positive affirmations to share with friends, family, coworkers, and clients.


Michelle Anderson – Duncanville, TX
Michelle Anderson, former 2011 Ms. Plus America, the first only known HIV+ Black woman to ever run in any mainstream and win a national crown. Currently, Michelle resides in Dallas Texas and continues to lend her voice as a Board member of The Afiya Center, CAB member and Blogger for The Well Project, NMAC 50+ Fellowship Member, and National Ambassador of The Black AIDS Institute, Greater Than AIDS, and Let’s Stop HIV Together. A foodie at heart and a lover of good vibes and good conversations, Michelle brought these three elements together and established Good Vittles Catering LLC where she continues to expand her ministry to end eradicate HIV at the root!


Miguel Rodriguez – Monterey Park, CA
I am a 59-year-old immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico. I have resided in Los Angeles, CA for the past 30 years and have been HIV+ since 1997. I’ve been working in the HIV field since 2003. I love books, the outdoors, and soft rock.




Miguel Ángel Delgado-Ramos – San Juan, PR
I am 69 years old and have been HIV+ for 34 years. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. I am Co-Chair of the Puerto Rico HIV Prevention Planning Group. I participated in the Planning Council of the EMA of the municipality of San Juan. Member of the USCHA 2022 Host Committee, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


Monica Johnson – Columbia, LA
Monica Johnson is the founder and Executive Director of H.E.R.O.E.S. (Helping Everyone Receive Ongoing Effective Support), a peer-based and peer-driven organization whose mission is to provide HIV education to people at-risk and to provide supportive services for HIV-infected individuals and their families with primary focus on women and children. Through her HEROES organization, Monica has founded several original programs. Mind, Body, and Soul University (MBSU) is a treatment education program designed to educate, support, and empower women living with HIV/AIDS. The Teens in Motivational Education (TIME) peer education program, which has reached more than 2500 high-risk youth, is a teen pregnancy prevention program that utilizes a holistic approach to encourage youth to make informed choices that promote healthy decisions. Keyah is a general health education program targeting African American women in rural communities. Monica serves on many boards and committees including the Louisiana Governor’s Commission on HIV/AIDS, National Minority AIDS Council Board of Directors, LSU Community Advisory Committee, and the Region VIII Community Planning Group. She also serves as an advisor for many national conferences around the United States. Monica attended Northeast Louisiana University where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Medical Technology. She is also the recipient of the John Ramsey Memorial Award for Clinical Laboratory Science. Monica is the mother of a fourteen-year-old son Avery who also enjoys assisting his mom’s HIV/AIDS youth education programs. Known for her fondness of children, Monica enjoys playing, traveling, listening to music, and eating.


Paul Agular – San Francisco, CA
Paul Aguilar is a fourth generation native San Franciscan. In June 1981, 2 weeks before his 18th birthday, he read about a mysterious disease killing young gay men. In 1988, he tested positive for HIV. He began his community work volunteering at AIDS Dance-a-thon and AIDSWALK SF. Paul has worked in public safety and crime prevention for the SF Mayor’s Criminal Justice Council in the late 90’s and was on the team that originally implemented Prop 36 (Treatment not Jails) in CA. Paul is a co-founding author of the San Francisco Principles 2020, a manifesto outlining the unmet needs of long-term survivors and is also on the Board and lives at Marty’s Place Affordable Housing Corporation, the only self-governing housing co-operative for people living with HIV and AIDS in the United States. Paul is the former chair of the HIV Caucus of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ+ Democratic Club and is the current Recorder to it’s Executive Board. In 2022, Paul was awarded a Fellowship with the End the Epidemics coalition which works to end the HIV, HCV and STI epidemics in California. This year, 2023, Paul was awarded “Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal” for San Francisco Pride 2023. Paul works as the Longtime Survivor Community Liaison in the Aging Services Department of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.


Pat Clark – Climax, MI
Diagnosed in 1991, Pat immediately began to learn as much as possible about HIV, despite living in a small community full of stigma and misinformation. She began volunteering at the ASO where she was referred to as a client. Soon after she gave up her disability and worked for them as Prevention Specialist, Medical Case Manager, and now Director of New Programs & Housing. Pat loves doing DIY work at home, gardening, and spending time in Colorado with her 2 grandkids.



Raffi Babakhanian – New York, NY
Growing up in Urbana Illinois, I left home when I was 16 in 1979, I lived for two years in Minneapolis before moving to New York to be an au pair on 5th Avenue and to attend Columbia University. Later that year at my first Gay Pride Parade, I saw Gay and Lesbian Youth (GLYNY) marching down 5th Avenue, and I ducked under the barricades to join them. In April 1985, I was arrested as part of the Columbia University anti-apartheid student sit-out and was suspended for the fall semester. That October, at 21, weeks before my birthday, I tested positive for HIV. It was just too much for me to know what to do with. It was a few years before I was able to see a doctor. However, at that same time, I found the Paradise Garage and Larry Levan, and that helped me survive. I was and am very lucky to be a slow progressor. Eventually I found ACT UP, got involved, and was arrested at the NIH. In the early 90s, I moved to Europe, eventually living in London because of another club – Trade. Quite accidentally, I found myself becoming an AIDS treatment activist, writing for National AIDS Manual (the predecessor of aidsmap.org), and in 1996 founding the UK AIDS Treatment Project (ATP) which grew to about 50 people, mostly HIV+, ½ gay men, ½ African immigrants (then the two most HIV-infected groups in London) fighting for access to HAART, which wasn’t available in the UK. At the same time I became an early member of the German-based European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG) and was a co-founder of the European Community Advisory Board (ECAB) which eventually became a formal part of the European drug approval process.

Based back in New York, from 2001 to 2003, I worked with grassroots community-based HIV service organizations across sub-Saharan Africa on behalf of AfriCASO, linking them to European and US funding sources and sharing contacts and fundraising know-how. Since then I’ve been involved with the AIDS Treatment Activist Coalition (ATAC), served on the Housing Works FQHC Board, and worked as a NYS Certified Peer Specialist in an HCBS project. I also came back to ACT UP where I’m a co-founder of the Crystal Meth Working


Rik Kutcher – Minneapolis, MN
I received my HIV diagnosis 37 years ago. I was 23, and I certainly did not expect that I would ever live to experience aging with HIV, much less attend a conference where so many would still be fighting for our collective lives. I am now 60, and although it’s not always “a walk in the park” when it comes to aging with HIV, I am proud to be a part of the national conversation. There was a day when I couldn’t speak of my status to anyone for fear of rejection associated with HIV stigma that prevails still to this day. My involvement with the 50+ Strong & Healthy cohort this past year has made me so much aware of what it means to be living with and aging with HIV and this allows me to fully support older adults in my community who are currently living with HIV. Today, I not only speak up and speak out about what it is like to be living with and aging with HIV, I also lead an HIV peer support group at Rainbow Health Minnesota.

Rob Ingwerson – Portland, OR
My name is Rob Ingwerson and I work as a certified Peer Wellness support, and I also work as a community health worker doing HIV/STI testing and counseling. I was diagnosed with HIV on 3/23/2000. I identify as Asian American and hope to see more involvement from the Asian Community. Attending USCHA is one of my favorite events I look forward to each year. There is something special about being with others from your community and meeting new HIV working heroes!


Susan Baldridge – Smithtown, NY
My name is Susan Baldridge, pronouns she/her. I am a single mom of three children, I am a long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS and I have worked as a Care Navigator for 3 years now. I recently became a Certified Peer Worker through New York State. After many years of self-isolation, I recently became more of a member of my community by becoming more involved in committees and other involvements. I am very passionate about advocating for the HIV community and my fellow peers. I am so thankful for this opportunity to attend Washington D.C. and to be a part of this wonderful group. My journey just continues to get stronger and bigger with the help of this group. I plan to spread my knowledge of what I learned with my fellow peers at my United Way Consumer Involvement Committee that I co-chair.


Tiffany Hartman – Roanoke, VA
My name is Tiffany Hartman, MPH, CEO BSY PSY. I am an HIV peer educator and a mental health practitioner. I also do HIV treatment education and provide support services, harm reduction, and help people get into care.


Veronica Nava – Chula Vista, CA
My name is Veronica Nava, I work as a Peer Navigator for San Ysidro Health Center in San Diego. Where I started as a Client/Patient then I became a volunteer and now I work for SYHealth. I have come full circle and I can honestly say that I have found my calling in the HIV community. I’m currently taking a training to become a planning board member for San Diego HPG to represent the Hispanic/Latina HIV community to continue my advocacy for this unrepresented community. My pain became my purpose! Thank you for the opportunity to attend USCHA 2023.


Victoria Graves-Cade – Brooklyn, NY
I am a 64-year young African American Women, married 30years mother of 3 grown sons and 4 grandchildren. I have been HIV+ for 28 years living vibrantly and seasoned. I have worked in HIV/AIDS since the late 80s working with the DOH AIDS Hotline, Bklyn AIDS Task Force, Bedstuy Health Center Outreach HIV Testing, ACRIA at GMHC Health Literacy and Aging Program as a Peer training Older Adults on HIV and Aging also I am a member of the Healing Touch Ministry at Emmanuel Baptist Church. I am energized and eager to provide more information and tools to African American and Latino Older Women who are being left out of the conversation and research as it pertains to HIV/AIDS.


Vincent Crisostomo – San Francisco, CA
Vince Crisostomo, (age 62), is a native Chamorro based in San Francisco, and who has been living with HIV/AIDS for over 35 years. He is passionate about community and bringing health care and social justice equity to people of every sexual identity, HIV status, gender, race and age. He has dedicated over 30 years to HIV/AIDS activism and serving LGBTQ communities at international, regional, national and grassroots levels. Vince is the first Chamorro to publicly come out as Gay and living with AIDS at World AIDS Day on Guam 1992. In 2001, he relocated to lead the Pacific’s first NGO funded for HIV/AIDS work, Guam’s Coral Life Foundation (CLF), and form the Pacific Island Jurisdictions AIDS Action Group (PIJAAG) with representatives from the six Pacific Island jurisdictions to advocate for quality HIV prevention/care services and advise national, international, and local policy entities on HIV AIDS issues within the region. In 2002, Guam HIV/AIDS Network (GuaHAN Projectre) replaced CLF. From January 2007 was executive director of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS, founded the Pacific Island Jurisdiction AIDS Action Group, and served as a United Nations NGO delegate for the Asia Pacific June 2007 to December 2010. Currently, Crisostomo is Director; Aging Services at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Has appointments to the California Governor’s Equity in Aging Work Group, the SF Mayor’s LongTerm Care Coordinating Council (LTCCC), Co-Chair of the Dignity Fund Oversight Committee and the SF Human Right’s Commission’s LGBTQI+ Advisory Committee. Poz Magazine named him one of 100 most influential people living with HIV in 2015 and after winning the popular vote was Grand Marshall of SF Pride 2019. Additionally, Crisostomo has performed, directed, produced and or contributed to theatrical, film, video and written productions In New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Guam and abroad.


Wanda Brendle-Moss – Winston-Salem, NC
I’m RN Case Manager Retired, diagnosed with HIV July 2002, AIDS May 2008 after bout severe depression, I stopped my meds. I’ve been Undetectable since late 2008. I’ve been Homeless, Food Insecure, survived intimate partner violence, robbed in my home at gunpoint. All this led me to start my Advocacy in 2010… I’ve not stopped since! I look forward to adding more tools to my advocacy toolbelt being part 2023/2024 HIV 50+ Strong & Healthy Group!


William Hall – Seattle, WA
I am a Community Advocate for the Native American Community here in Seattle on HIV. I work with the Seattle Indian Health Board and the Urban Indian Health Institute, making a video on stigma and HIV in the Native Community, doing speaking engagements, and seminars. I am also a CAB member for the Equity in Research through Seattle Children’s Hospital, the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit, and I just recently joined the SAC Study which will look at the Social Determinants of Health with regards to HIV/COVID in Indigenous Communities. I am currently working on getting protocols developed for our aging long-term survivors, and the many problems that come with that, especially frailty.


Yolanda Ross – Houston, TX
My name is Yolanda Ross, and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker-Supervisor (LCSW-S) and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) with more than 10 years of clinical and addition counseling experience. I am a woman in long-term recovery and is a mother to an adult daughter who is living with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). I am also a woman living strong with HIV for over 17 years. I currently work for Santa Maria Hostel, which is a residential treatment facility that helps empower women and their families to lead healthy, successful, productive and self-fulfilling lives. I am very passionate about serving women and families who are recovery from addiction and trauma and building a strong foundation for long-term success. I have also dedicated my life to helping women achieve long-term sobriety and is empowered to be a champion for the cause of social justice and diversity. I have a Bachelors and Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Houston and a second Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA) from the University of Houston-Clear. I am also a Doctoral student at the University of Kentucky for Social Work. More importantly, I am an active member of Positive Women’s Network in Houston, Texas and I am committed about promoting positive changes on the micro, mezzo and macro levels of society regarding women of color living with HIV/AIDS.

Lifetime Survivors Cohort 2023

Alyssa Crawford – Tallahassee, FL
Alyssa Crawford was born HIV positive in 1992. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Alyssa began her career in public health at 19, after going public with her status when she was a student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). While attending FAMU, she was elected the 2012-2013 Miss Junior Attendant. Alyssa used her platform to further her advocacy both on and off campus. Upon graduation, Alyssa became the Outreach supervisor for the Minority Alliance for Advocating Community Awareness and Action, inc. (MAACA).

Alyssa’s advocacy expanded in 2020 when she became 1 of 4 HIV positive women in the U.S. that breastfed while successfully maintaining an HIV negative child. Alyssa’s lived experiences earned her a seat at the Well Project’s 2022 Perinatal roundtable, which consisted of over 200 infectious disease clinicians exploring informed decision making and research regarding breast and chest feeding in America. In addition, Alyssa recently became active in HIV criminalization law reform. To advance her knowledge and skillset, she attended the 5th Annual HIV is not a Crime Training Academy, in Emory, Virginia, with hopes of being part of the upcoming change in Florida.

Alyssa is the Region 2B Minority AIDS Coordinator for the Florida Department of Health, as well as the region’s representative on the Consumer Advisory Board. Her experiences being a vocal advocate for people with HIV has earned her recognition on television, radio, and print media. Alyssa is a proud member of Verticals, a lifetime-survivors support group headed by Nestor Rogel and Porchia Dees. She is also the CEO of HIV Pretty, a company aimed at reversing the stigma on an HIV positive status and empowering those who are positive through the arts and media. In her personal time, Alyssa enjoys being a mother, spending time with loved ones, traveling and recreational scuba diving. Alyssa believes in living life to the fullest, as she believes limits are only concepts one morphs in one’s head.


Antoinette Jones – Atlanta, GA
Antoinette Jones began her work with HIV advocacy in her early 20s, as a Peer Navigator facilitating access to preventative care and treatment for people living with and at risk for HIV. She identifies as a Vertical Women Living with HIV; meaning she has been living with HIV since Birth. Antoinette was called to peer advocacy to combat the isolation many people born with HIV go through due to the lack of awareness. Antoinette has worked with organizations serving black women and people of transgender experience developing programs, advancements in healthcare services, and mentorship/leadership development. Antoinette is a part of the Dandelions Movement which centers the needs of people born with HIV through mentorship, healing, and peer to peer interventions.

Follow the dandelions movement on IG @Dandelions_movement
Follow Antoinette on IG @itstheantoinette


Angelica Colón — Springfield, MA
Hello, my name is Angelica aka Angie. I am 39 years old, and I was born HIV positive. I was born in Puerto Rico but was raised on the East Coast/New England area. I am a widowed mother of three kids, who are all HIV negative. I have a master’s degree in social worker as well as LCSW licensure. I currently work as a medical social worker and a therapist part time. I have been taking HIV medications since the beginning when AZT was in liquid form. Through the years I have been treated with multiple HIV medications to now taking just one a day. As a child/teenager taking over 16 pills a day, I never thought the day would come when I would be taking just one pill a day to treat HIV. I also never thought that I would live as long as I have, accomplished the things I have, let alone have gotten married or had kids. Stigma was so prevalent in my years of growing up with HIV that it was hard to picture a bright and healthy future. If it weren’t for the pediatric infectious disease team that treated me in my younger days and the social worker and mentors that provided support and encouraged me, I would not be where I am today. They have been the most supportive people in my life, who I still keep in touch with today, and still continue to provide the same encouragement.


Ieshia Scott – Sunrise, FL
Ieshia Scott is a public and motivational speaker, health educator, mentor, peer, and support group facilitator based in Broward County, Florida.

Since 2015, she has created and facilitated trainings and content for youth, young adults, and HIV service organizations. Notably; “ABC’s of HIV,” “Dating and Disclosure,” and capacity-building services in client service, program development, program implementation, and community engagement as a consultant.

Ieshia has partnered with various organizations and public agencies to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS, uplift, and advocate for women living with HIV seeking sisterhood and support. Former UCF Knight, Ieshia received her Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration and a Masters in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Management from Nova Southeastern University in August 2022.


L’Orangelis Thomas Negrón — San Juan, PR
Soy nómada, materializadora, aprendiz e improvisadora de diversas disciplinas, desde la bomba, la costura, el movimiento, el artivismo, y todo lo que pueda crear con mis negras manos. Soy organizadora comunitaria de espacios descentralizados transfeministas y antirracistas, que sean cuidados para personas menstruantes y personas viviendo con VIH. Mi trabajo va dirigido al VIH, la conciencia menstrual, la autoexploración, y la organización comunitaria. Se ve diversas maneras, y explora los ciclos que son parte de nuestra vida, desde utilizar la sangre menstrual como pintura para dibujar, diseño gráfico dirigido al VIH, la caligrafía a diversas escalas, la creación de artículos medicinales, y el desarrollo de talleres y diagramas para diálogos intergeneracionales.


Marz Albarran – Rensselaer, NY
Perinatally diagnosed with HIV. Nonbinary. Works in Learning & Development as a Sr. Policy & Procedure Specialist for the New York State Health Marketplace. Part of the Consumer Advisory Sub Committee of AIDS Institute Quality of Care Committee. Co-chair of the Aging & Long-Term Survivors & Perinatally Diagnosed subcommittee. Board Member at the Albany Damien Center. Spokesmodel for HIVStopsWithMe.org, Alliance for Positive Health, and In Our Own Voices. Have lived in upstate NY for 12 years, doing community advocacy since I was 15yrs old.


Nestor Kamurigi – Los Angeles, CA
Thank you for this amazing opportunity, I have been working on advocating for people living with HIV for 10 years. I began as an activist for the Student Global AIDS Campaign and am now a Public Health investigator working on closing circles of transmission of HIV. I am a co-chair for the Verticals group and have organized events for the community. I am eager to provide input in the strategy session.



Tranisha Arzah – New Orleans, LA
Tranisha Arzah (she/they) lives in New Orleans, Louisiana but was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She currently works part-time as an assistant gardener for a community garden that provides local and farm-raised veggies and fruit for ‘food-apartheid’ communities.

As of late June 2022, she began a certification program to become an ICF, an accredited Spiritual Life Coach, to help establish her spiritual business to help transform people’s lives as it pertains to the intersectionalities of Spiritual Wellness with an emphasis on IBPOC experiences. Prior to living in New Orleans, she worked in Wellness and Health, especially as it related to womxn, LGBTQ, and youth communities, to provide education around HIV, sexual health and wellness services, and humxn rights activism. She has authored various blogs relating to the movement and attended many conferences and meetings advocating for affected communities. She is known as a leader who shows up to represent and educate people, especially about the issues that affect her community and matter to her deeply like HIV. Tranisha has expressed how incredibly honored she is to work in this space and grateful she is to continue to deepen her understanding of herself while also being a service to others.


Zora Voyca – New York, NY
My name is Zora Barnwell but I go by Zora Voyce. I’m located in New York City. I have been living with HIV for 26 years, I was born with it. I created my own blog named mypurora.com to write about my experience living with HIV. My goal is to help people navigate relationships and self love.




Porchia Dees – San Bernadino, CA
Porchia is a native of San Bernardino, CA and graduate of the University of California, Riverside. She is now enrolled in a part-time MSW program at Azusa Pacific University. She has been working in the HIV Direct Services field for about 10 years in different capacities. She is currently co-chair of the Lifetime Survivors Special Interest Group for the National HIV & Aging Advocacy Network (NHAAN). Porchia considers herself an Artivist whose mission is to inspire others to take better care of themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually.


Grissel Granados – Los Angeles, CA
Grissel Granados is a Mexican immigrant living in Los Angeles, CA. She co-directed and co-produced the documentary titled, We’re Still Here, that focuses on the experiences of people who were born with HIV in the ’80s and ’90s and are now adults. Grissel is a lifetime survivor of HIV and has worked in the field professionally for over a decade.


Why A Love Letter?

Kim Ferrell, NMAC’s Deputy Director for Operations, came into my life 18 years ago. I was a broken man struggling to hide my damage. The epidemic had taken a heavy toll. I suffered trauma from losing too many and rage for how long it took to get treatments that worked. Back then I pushed down and denied my emotions and pain. Kim gave me the gift of unconditional love. She was always in my corner helping me to be a better man, even when others stopped believing in me. Even when I stopped believing in myself.

The theme for the 2023 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS is a Love Letter to Black Women. The spark was because Kim is retiring. This love letter thanks her and all the Black Women who fight to end the epidemic.

NMAC’s story would not have happened without Kim. She is our backbone and north star. Staff and the board depend on her counsel, understanding, and good judgement. If you need to get something accomplished, you know to go to Kim. I am proud and honored to celebrate her and all the Black Women leaders who changed our world.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters will keynote the Opening Plenary on Wednesday, September 6th. She is the original OG Black Woman leader who fought with us since the beginning of the epidemic. I first met the Congresswomen back when she was in the California State Assembly. She was close to Archbishop Carl Bean (Minority AIDS Project), so our paths crossed in too many hospital rooms and funerals. NMAC continues to work with her and Congresswoman Barbara Lee on the Minority AIDS Initiative. The MAI is part of her iconic congressional legacy NMAC hopes to turn this legislation into a bill to be named after her, the Maxine Waters Minority AIDS Initiative. Unfortunately, the current Congress makes that impossible.

The conference is almost sold out. Plenaries will be crowded and can get claustrophobic. We ask for patience and understanding. Please let attendees who need support to stand or walk to enter in advance of the rush. The gathering may trigger feelings, so trained counselors are available to help. Contact the USCHA office for more information. The meeting also provides free childcare, but you must register in advance.

The Black Women Who Founded NMAC

This year’s meeting is a love letter to all cis and trans Black Women who work to end the epidemics of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis. I remember the Black Women who were core to NMAC’s history. Two NMAC board members that we lost way too soon, Pandora Singleton and Janet Mitchell. Pandora started Project Azuka, and Janet was a doctor at Harlem Hospital. Rashida Abdul-Khabeer (formerly Hassan), Sandra McDonald, and Marie St Cyr were founding board members along with Suki Ports. Rashida started BEBASHI, Sandra started Outreach, and Marie started WARN (Women’s AIDS Resource Center). Then there are all the powerful Black Women in the field. The reality that there are so many leaders speaks volumes about the important roles Black Women hold in the fight to end HIV, STDs and Hepatitis.

Toni Newman and Lauren Miller show the importance of having trans leaders as staff. They work with NMAC’s TGNC (Transgender & Gender Nonconforming) CAP to bring diverse voices to NMAC and the conference. Gender is a social construct and not binary. People fall all along the spectrum. NMAC acknowledges and supports all the nonbinary and gender nonconforming leaders in our movement. USCHA is dedicated to Black Women and stands in solidarity with all genders.

NMAC’s Coalition for Justice and Equality Across Movements has partnered with the National Action Network and Drum Major Institute for the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. Join us on Aug 26 because too much is at stake to sit on the sidelines (Mow60.com #MOW60). If you want to march with NMAC at the 60th March on Washington, Saturday, August 26th, at 11 am, and receive a Coalition t-shirt, please email Destiny Pearson

Look online for the latest USCHA information. While the city no longer requires proof of vaccination, USCHA encourages everyone to wear masks. Please be up to date with vaccines. If you feel sick, isolate in your room, and call the conference office.

Part of me thinks my Asian ancestors would be appalled by such a public display of affection, and maybe that’s why I wrote this letter. I wanted to show Kim that I was listening and to let Black Women know how thankful NMAC is for your leadership and courage. Our movement is stronger and more compassionate because of you. We are forever grateful.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata


I invite all cis and trans men to bring our best Kenergy to this year’s United States Conference on HIV/AIDS and stand up for Black Women like Ken stands up for Barbie. Sometimes as men we don’t understand how important it is to show up and be present and caring when it’s not about us. USCHA thanks, appreciates, and loves all the women (cis and trans) who commit their lives to ending the epidemic. We are stronger and better because you are here.

As a child I loved my Barbie, especially the little plastic high heels. Looking back, I am grateful that my mother allowed me to play with her without shame. Yet even with mom’s support, I knew the world did not want boys to play with dolls. We were supposed to like guns and GI Joe. Not me. I wanted the Dream House and Ken. Like Ken believes in Barbie, I believe in Black Women. They taught me about unconditional love and acceptance. They helped me to understand that I did not have to live my parent’s dream to be a dentist. I could be an outrageous Queen. Black Women gave me a roadmap and courage to break away from my family’s expectations, and I am eternally grateful.
Remember Black women (cis & trans) are not monolithic. Workshops, posters, plenaries, and special events will paint a picture of their beautiful complexity, but there is so much more. Unfortunately, there is not enough time or space to honor everyone who should be honored. We can only give a snapshot. An outside advisory committee of Black Women provided counsel and worked collaboratively on the details. Whenever possible, we used Black Women owned businesses and technical staff. The gathering won’t be perfect, but it will be community.

I got some hateful messages asking “why is the meeting focusing on Black Women? Why a love letter?” It pisses me off and makes me sad. Do not put your shit on this important gathering! I will not let the haters steal our joy as USCHA grinds to stand in Black Girl Magic. There is too much to accomplish, and the women of NMAC and our movement have labored too hard to create a vibe and positive experience.

For the men attending USCHA, I need you to be an ally, to be your best version of Ken. Too often if it’s not about us, then we aren’t interested. Part of the reason the world feels out of control and scary is that America divided into camps and the crazy people took advantage of our silos. Alone we might not be strong enough, but together we are a force of nature that can change the world. As the radical right goes after women, people of color, LBGTQ community, gun control, climate change, immigrants, affirmative action, and too many others, we must stand together. It starts by showing up and listening.

Here is what you need to be mad about, License to Discriminate Riders were added to 11 different federal spending bills, including the bill that supports HIV services. House leaders have added riders that allow discrimination against LGBTQ people under the guise of religious liberty. These riders prohibit federal agencies from reducing or terminating federal contracts if an organization justifies their discrimination based on the belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Anti-Gender Affirming Care Riders were added to seven different federal spending bills that would restrict access to gender-affirming care or limit funding to organizations that provide gender-affirming care. Note: In the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill, the language also prohibits funds for any organization that “promotes transgenderism” which ultimately cuts off any organization that recognizes, affirms, and supports the transgender community.

Pride Flag Riders were added to seven spending bills. These riders would prohibit funds from being used to fly pride flags. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Riders (DEI) were added to 10 spending bills. These riders would prohibit funds from being used to implement, administer, apply, enforce, or carry out Executive Orders on DEI. Drag Show Riders were in the State and Defense budgets. They would prohibit these agencies from supporting events with drag queens, such as a drag queen story hour for children or the use of drag queens as military recruiters.

Be mad about these riders, especially since they can also be added to Continuing Resolutions (CR) that are used to keep the government open. NMAC is supporting PrEP4All and 60 other agencies to host a Press Conference the day prior to the start of USCHA in the Senate Swamp. We invite all USCHA attendees to join. More information will follow. The press conference will thank the Senate for restoring the domestic HIV budget, particularly funds for ending the HIV epidemic. Our movement will call on Congress to pass a clean budget or CR that has none of these discriminatory riders.

USCHA is a training camp to educate and update leaders to end the epidemics of HIV, STDs, and Hepatitis. It is also a “family reunion” that brings together advocates to support and share acceptance in a world that hates and discriminates against our right to exist. Our movement must stand with Black Women if we are ever going to end the HIV epidemic. Thank you for attending, I am really excited for everyone to experience what these remarkable women have curated.

Our thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues at the Maui AIDS Foundation.

If you are able, here is the Maui Fire Relief Wish List. If you know anyone in Maui, here is a Fire Resource list.

I end this e-newsletter with sad news: Ernesto Aldana gained his wings.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Love Letter to Black Women

Our movement lost another giant. I dedicate this e-newsletter to Dr. Stephaun E. Wallace. Dr. Wallace was the Director of External Relations of both the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) and the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) based at Fred Hutch, a Staff Scientist in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division (Fred Hutch),  a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington, and Director of the Office of Community Engagement in the University of Washington/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research. The 2024 Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit is in Seattle at his urging. Please join us to honor his legacy on April 18-19, 2024, in Seattle at the Hyatt Regency.

There is too much loss and pain. I look forward to hugging everyone at this year’s United States Conference on HIV/AIDS. Between Braidwood, Tennessee, House HIV budget cuts, and the ongoing weaponization of the communities hardest hit by HIV, particularly the transgender community, the world sometimes feels out of control. This year’s USCHA is a love letter to ALL Black Women. The spark was to honor Kim Ferrell, NMAC’s Deputy Director for Operations, but it was never limited to her. USCHA will celebrate and send love to all the cis and trans Black Women in our movement, and remember those who have gone too soon, current leaders on the frontline, and the next generation stepping up to end the HIV epidemic.

As you have seen in the past, I am an extreme control queen. Usually, I micromanage the smallest details; however, last year in San Juan I learned the importance of letting go so Puerto Rican staff and constituents could lead. This year’s USCHA was turned over to Black women leaders on our staff, board, community advisory boards and constituents. The 2023 meeting was envisioned, planned, and executed entirely by Black Women. As a result, I can honestly say it is going to be amazing. This will be one for the record books that should not be missed. We want you to be surprised so we are not sharing everything in advance.

As an ally, you will see me at the meeting, but I will not be speaking. The stage is for Black Women. There are also sacred spaces only for Black Women like the Black Women’s Summit. Women need to talk and share in gatherings that are safe and confidential. I’m asking all men, cis and trans, to show up as allies without mansplaining your way into the room. Please do not complain that the meeting is not about you. Think of all the gatherings that women sit through that focus primarily on men. USCHA has workshops and sessions on all the communities highly impacted by HIV. Check out the agenda.

The Federal Plenary will include speakers from the White House, HHS, CDC, HRSA, NIH, HUD, SAMHSA, and the FDA to update our movement on efforts to end the HIV epidemic. These agencies were asked to identify Black Women leaders to make these presentations. Too often it is only men who speak, this year we will be joined by

  • Dr. Kaye Hayes, HHS
  • Dr. Robyn Neblett Fanfair, CDC
  • Ms. Yemisi Odusanya, HRSA
  • Dr. Mary Roary, SAMHSA
  • Dr. Janine Clayton, NIH

While it should not be revolutionary, I don’t recall a Federal Plenary that only had Black Women. It is important for men to show up and listen and be the allies that our movement needs us to be, especially right now. All of us are targets in the culture wars. Our ability to stand together and fight starts by supporting and learning about the communities highly impacted by HIV. Black women are 20 times more likely than white women to get HIV. This year’s meeting will celebrate and educate about the diversity of Black Women fighting to end the HIV epidemic.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata

Last Week in the News

Last week the world learned…

  • Space aliens are real!
  • July was the hottest month in recorded history,
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had a medical emergency on live TV,
  • Former President Trump faces multiple additional charges while still the frontrunner in the Republican race for president, and…

you are not alone in thinking the world is going insane. News about HIV sometimes gets drowned out, like the Washington Post report that abortion restrictions may impact the renewal of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The Senate Appropriations Committee weighted in on the FY24 budget and included $616 million for the Ending HIV Epidemic Initiative, a $3 million increase. Its too soon to know what will ultimately happen to the FY24 budget or PEPFAR and it’s important for community to keep up the pressure. Below are the latest Federal AIDS Policy Partnership (FAAP) budget tables for FY24 Appropriations.

For decades, HIV funding enjoyed bipartisan support. As recently as 2019, the Trump administration purposed a new budget line item for Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) that brought much needed resources to 57 jurisdictions across the country. Now our work is caught in the crosshairs of the culture wars. Anything to do with abortion, women’s rights, the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender rights, critical race theory, drag queens, DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion), affirmative action, gun control, and immigrants’ rights gets added scrutiny. The strategy seems to be to starve the people that don’t share their values. HIV sits at the intersection of everything they hate. There is no future if we don’t fight back. Our hard work and community infrastructure could disappear if these cuts were enacted. Fortunately, we still have friends, but we can’t take them for granted. Do not assume others will take care of these challenges. Our movement needs you to come to Washington! Standard registration for USCHA closes August 4th.

Last week with trans rights under assault, NMAC held an emergency round table on Capitol Hill with member of Congress and nationally-known medical professionals and policy experts to demand urgent action to project trans Americans. The round table was hosted by Congressional Equality Caucus Co-Chair Mark Takano (D-CA) and Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus Co-Chair Barbara Lee (D-CA) and attended by Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA) (see photos above). Thank you to all the leaders who spoke.

You can find a recording of the round table here.

  • Moderator: Toni Newman, Director of the Coalition for Justice and Equality Across Movements, NMAC
  • Susan Corke, Director, Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project
  • Vivian Topping,Director, Advocacy & Civic Engagement, Equality Federation
  • Shelby Chestnut, Executive Director, Transgender Law Center
  • Lexi Adsit, Executive Director, TransCanWork
  • Dr. Fan Liang, Assistant Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Johns Hopkins Medicine; Medical Director, The Center for Transgender and Gender Expansive Health

The communities hardest hit by HIV are also being weaponized by the extreme right. We did not ask for this fight. As a gay man of color, I’ve lived too much of my life with stigma and discrimination. I can’t and won’t go back into the closet. These are crazy times, but you are not alone. Standard registration for the US Conference on HIV/AIDS closes August 4th. Join this important conversation and celebrate Black Women in our movement.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata

Big Announcement!

I am pleased to announce that Tara Barnes is NMAC’s new Deputy Director for Operations. She starts this position when Kim Ferrell retires on January 12, 2024. This decision was a no brainer. After working with her for 25 years, I’ve never met a person like Tara who always smiles and keeps her composure in the middle of multiple fires. NMAC is lucky to have her in this new role. That brings everyone great comfort and relief.

Change is difficult. I was concerned about who would follow Kim Ferrell. Tara’s 25 years at NMAC will ease this important and emotional transition. Staff, board, and constituents have decades of experience working with her. I am especially glad to continue NMAC’s legacy of strong Black women leaders.

After working with Kim for 18 years, I’ve come to understand this position’s primary function is to keep me and the agency out of trouble. The Deputy serves as the conductor who makes the engine runs smoothly and on mission. The job is mostly inward facing. Staff needs and expects leadership to hear their concerns.

Thank you, Tara,  for making what could have been a difficult transition so much easier. I am grateful. It is important for everyone to understand that Tara is not Kim, and she has her own ways of working. It may take time to make the necessary adjustments, but given our 25 years of collaboration, I have faith.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata

Did I Make You Gasp?

Last week the House dropped their FY 2024 federal budget recommendations. The breadth and depth of the cuts were shocking. Here is what we know, and the information is still changing.

  1. $3.8 billion cut to NIH
  2. $220 million cut to CDC (eliminating EHE funding)
  3. $238 million cut to HRSA (eliminating EHE & Part F support)
  4. $32 million cut to the Minority AIDS Initiative
  5. Eliminate all SAMHSA MAI support
  6. Eliminate all Title X and Teen Pregnancy Prevention programs
  7. $6 million increase to HOPWA

In addition to the cuts in the budget there were also riders:

  1. Prohibits the use of funds to promote or advance Critical Race Theory (CRT).
  2. Prohibits implementation of the Biden Administration’s Executive Orders on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
  3. Prohibits funds to enforce Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria for investing in retirement plans.
  4. Protects Americans against religious discrimination related to their views on marriage.
  5. Prohibits implementation of other controversial Biden Administration rules and Executive Orders, such as student loan repayment waivers and rules enforcing “gender identity” that require biological boys to be allowed to compete against girls in women’s sports.
  6. Includes a new private right of action to ensure that individuals who believe their conscience rights under the Weldon Amendment have been violated can have their complaint heard and adjudicated by a court, rather than the biased Biden Administration Office for Civil Rights at HHS.
  7. Maintains the Dickey Amendment, which ensures that federal funds cannot be used to advocate or promote gun control.
  8. Protects religious freedom of students on college campuses with language that ensures religious student groups are treated equally and not discriminated against in access to campus facilities or recognition.
  9. Prohibits the use of funds to perform medical procedures that attempt to change an individual’s biological gender.
  10. Prohibits implementation of Biden Executive Order on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Discrimination.

The HIV movement needs the Senate and the White House to push back and hold the line for at least a continuing resolution (CR). Unfortunately, to raise the debt ceiling, the administration agreed to several “poison pills” including that non-defense discretionary spending would be set at one percent below current year levels if a budget is not passed. However, a 1% decrease is better than the cuts recommended by the House.

I believe the stunning $3.8 billion cut to NIH is payback from select House members against Dr. Fauci, even though he retired. It has nothing to do with NIH or the need for a strong research infrastructure. In fact, this cut will make America more vulnerable the next time a new virus spreads across the world. And there will be a next time.

It is important to understand the HIV budget cuts have nothing to do with the effectiveness of programs and services and everything to do with the communities hardest hit by HIV. We are an extension of the culture wars playing out in America. After Braidwood and Tennessee, no one should be surprised. I hope the House overplayed their hand with these cuts and riders, but a lot depends on our next steps.

Normally staying quiet is the best strategy to survive in Washington. It’s been used by the HIV movement with much success. When the fight is specifically about our funding and the communities we serve, then the way forward is less clear. Whether we like it or not, between the communities we serve and our dependence on government funding, our movement is in the crosshairs. I don’t recall a time when there was so much HIV funding at risk.

Every organization needs to figure out their own strategy. I’m sharing NMAC’s to keep the field informed. Abortions, homosexuality, people of trans experience, affirmative action, gun control, and civil rights are bad in their eyes. Overturning Roe opened to doors to re-litigate what most thought was settled. This is the “make America great again” strategy in real time.

Did I make you gasp?

I’m calling an All-Hands-on Deck discussion at NMAC with our staff, board, consultants, and partners. The Partnership to End the Epidemics talked on Friday with the White House. We need their leadership in this fight. The Federal AIDS Policy Partnership held an emergency call to share information and talk strategy. These attempts to cut HIV funding won’t stop. Like with reproductive health, their goal is to completely defund HIV prevention, care, and research using the arguments outlined in the Braidwood case. It is against their religious beliefs, and they want to end public support for homosexual sex.

Fortunately, the HIV movement includes multiple Washington based policy staff from multiple national organizations who daily fight for more funding and to stop negative amendments. This will be a test of our ability to work together with the Senate, White House, and community. Collectively we’ve changed the world; however, I’ve seen people do some crazy things in the name of God. With the Presidential election next year, this really is turning into a fight for the soul of this country.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata

Republicans Slash HIV/AIDS Funding in New Appropriations Bill

NMAC Executive Director Paul Kawata, one of the nation’s leading HIV/AIDS advocates, condemned the new Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill that cuts tens of billions of dollars from an array of live-saving programs.

“If House Republicans had it their way, there would be another AIDS epidemic in America,” said Kawata. “We need to be clear: these proposed cuts would lead to unnecessary death and suffering. They must be stopped.”

Kawata noted that the proposed cuts would threaten access to an array of life-saving programs, including:

  • Double-digit cuts to the budgets for the Centers for Disease Control (18%) and Department of Health and Human Services (12%)
  • $3.8 billion cut from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget
  • $238 million cut from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the nation’s safety net for HIV care and treatment
  • $226 million cut from the National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP)
  • $32 million cut from the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund
  • Eliminates funding for Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S.; Title X; and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
  • Keeping funding levels flat for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides FDA-approved medications to low-income people with HIV

“Republicans are waging an unprecedented assault on the LGBTQ+ community, and this is the latest attack,” Kawata added. “While we are confident that this legislation will be dead on arrival in the Senate, it’s scary that these shameful cuts will see the light of day in any chamber of Congress.”

NMAC Condemns SCOTUS Latest Attack on LGBTQ+ Community

June 30, 2023 – NMAC policy expert Toni Newman released the following statement condemning the Supreme Court’s latest ruling against the LGBTQ+ community in the 303 Creative, Inc. v. Elenis case:

“Unsurprisingly, yet infuriatingly, the United States Supreme Court decided today to undo years of civil rights protections by allowing businesses to return to a darker time in which they were allowed to discriminate against customers based on who they are and who they love. This case was brought forward by a business owner who cited she was ‘fearful’ of a hypothetical situation that had never even presented itself in her professional services. Yet, her purported fears pale by comparison to the life-and-death ones being felt by members of the LGBTQ community as their fundamental rights are systematically being stripped away.

“Today’s ruling is another blow to our community, but we must understand that it’s actually part of a much larger national strategy to advance a coordinated and broader anti-LGBTQ+ agenda. To date, more than 525 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in 46 state legislatures, with more than 220 of those targeting the transgender community specifically with egregious provisions like bans on gender-affirming care and drag shows. More than 75 of those bills have been signed into law, and Republicans have made clear that there are more to come.

“The ruling comes weeks after the Human Rights Campaign declared a first-ever ‘State of Emergency’ for the LGBTQ+ community in the United States following a record-breaking increase in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults. It is disheartening to see the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority set this dangerous precedent and legitimize bigoted behavior that purports to be justified by religion.

“It is becoming increasingly apparent that those targeting the LGBTQ+ community have no intention of stopping their crusade anytime soon–which means that groups like NMAC will continue to stand with our allies to fight those attempts to threaten our dignity, freedom, and safety.”

NMAC Condemns SCOTUS Decision to Overturn Affirmative Action in Higher Education

June 29, 2023 – NMAC policy expert Toni Newman released the following statement condemning the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning affirmative action in higher education in the Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina cases:

“The United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn decades of precedent supporting affirmative action is going to cause irreparable harm to Black and brown communities, and the damage will not be limited to college admissions offices.

“The Minority AIDS Initiative, or MAI, was created in 1998 to provide critical and life-saving funding to minority-led HIV organizations. Unfortunately, the George W. Bush administration gutted it in 2004, citing a Supreme Court ruling that sharply limited how affirmative action could be used in federally-funded programs. The Bush administration’s move shuttered many of those minority-led HIV organizations around the country, and today people of color account for a vast majority of HIV transmissions in America.

“The lesson is clear: MAI was gutted with affirmative action in place, and today’s SCOTUS ruling clears the way for it to be potentially eliminated altogether. This conservative majority on the Supreme Court has shown, once again, that it’s willing to target the health, safety and dignity of our country’s most vulnerable populations without consideration for the damage those rulings will do or for the people who will suffer as a result.”