Free HIV Jobs Board – One Place to Look

Health departments, community-based organizations, and federal agencies are all looking to hire qualified people to fill their job openings. NMAC is building a free online jobs board called the EHE Workforce Jobs Bank that will be a centralized place for HIV, STD, and Hepatitis job openings. Funding to end the HIV epidemic in America means thousands of new positions. Our site was created by Career Builders and uses their platform to house the information.

Jobs posted on the site have hyperlinks for people to upload their resume. We only have a few jobs right now, including openings at NMAC. We need your help to grow. Organizations with job applications can post them for free by contacting Jas Florentino. They will set up an account for you so you can post on your own.

People looking for jobs should join our Talent Network. The Talent Network will send out alerts when a new job is posted that matches your interest. It will also allow you to forward any job announcements to friends or colleagues.

Professional employment is a matter of justice for people living with HIV, people of color, the transgender community, women, LGBTQ, and the recently incarcerated. This is how our movement can hire people from the communities they need to reach. Our goal is to build bridges between the communities hardest hit by HIV and the organizations who need to reach them.

God is Love and Love is for Everyone,

Paul Kawata
NMAC

Paul Kawata

 

 

 

 

This Jobs Board was funded by ELEVATE. This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $796,749.00 with 100 percentage funded by HRSA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

The Fight About Critical Race Theory is Also Our Fight

America’s latest culture battle is the weaponization of Critical Race Theory.  Any government program that works to address racial equity should be prepared for resistance and lawsuits. The core question facing the Biden-Harris administration is how to include race as a factor in federal procurement that can also pass muster in the Supreme Court.

Race and racism highly impact HIV care and prevention programs. The fight against critical race theory is a fight the HIV community cannot ignore. According to Education Week, “Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”

HIV results document that racism is more than an individual’s bias. Why are the majority of people living with HIV also people of color? Why are 75% of people on PrEP White? There is something systemic that creates this differential. People focus on the social determinants of health, but the outcomes almost always break down along lines of race. It is past time to directly speak to race and racism in America.

It will not be an easy fight. People are organizing across the country on both sides, and HIV needs to be part of the solution. If not, we will continue to see racial disparities in HIV that is mirrored in too many other diseases and social challenges impacted by race. The HIV movement can set the example for how America responses to race and ends an epidemic. Ultimately, the fight about using race in federal procurement will go to the Supreme Court where we will most likely lose given the court’s current make-up. Our job is to make it as difficult as possible for the courts to find against us.

What can the federal government do to include race as a factor in HIV federal procurement and not get stuck in endless court battles?

  1. Race can be a factor but not the only factor
  2. Look at education models like the one used at the Harvard Law Review
  3. Use Minority AIDS Initiative as a “test case”

NMAC believes that race can be a factor in federal procurement, but not the only factor. Our shared goal is to build the justification for using race that can also hold up in the courts. Affirmative action case law is the primary source of legal jurisdiction. So far, the courts have clearly said that race can be a factor, but not the only factor for affirmative action programs in universities. By the same token, race can be a factor in federal procurement, but not the only factor.

The selection process for the Harvard Law Review is a potential model for how a diversity of awards can be created. At the Harvard Law Review, 18 of the 48 editors are selected through a holistic but anonymous review that may consider race, disability status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Maybe part of HIV contracting can also speak to the value of diversity in HIV grantees.

Given the weaponization of Critical Race Theory, the federal government might consider a pilot project that solidifies the value of “diversity” when using race as a factor in federal procurement. NMAC believes the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) is the ideal test case. The MAI was created to support minority-led organizations; however, the Bush administration had concerns about any type of affirmative action in federal grant making, so they changed the MAI from minority-led to minority-serving organizations. Given the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to racial equity across government, now is the time to review implementation of this critical HIV funding stream.

NMAC is asking Harold Phillips, the new Director at the White House Office of National AIDS Policy to pull together a working group of federal and community leaders to examine ways to use race when making funding decisions about the use of the MAI. It will be essential to include legal experts who can help minimize challenges that will inevitably follow.

NMAC does not want to take any funding away from existing MAI grantees. Given the deadlines to end HIV, our hope is that the federal review is truncated to impact FY22-23 funding. Everyone wants to end the HIV epidemic but we will not reach this audacious goal if we continue with the status quo. HIV has led the way on so many issues. Now it’s time to lead with race.

God is Love and Love is for Everyone,

Paul Kawata
NMAC

Paul Kawata

 

 

 

 

 

Free Summer HIV Trainings – Lots of Deadlines

NMAC is hosting a series of free summer virtual trainings, I hope you can join us.

  1. National Training for Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming PLHIV (July 6-9)
  2. National Training for PLHIV in Indian Country (Jul 12-14)
  3. National Training for PLHIV in the Latinx Community in Spanish (July 19-23)
  4. National Training for Gay Black Men living with HIV (Aug 2-6)
  5. National Training for Cisgender Heterosexuals living with HIV (Aug 9-13)
  6. National Training for PLHIV in the Latinx Community in English (Aug 16-20)
  7. Midwest Stigma Training (Aug 23-27)
  8. Southern Stigma Training (Aug 30-Sep 4)
  9. Southwest Stigma Training (Sep 13-17)

This summer NMAC will hold a mix of regional and national virtual trainings. Given feedback, some trainings will engage communities highly impacted by HIV like the transgender/gender non-conforming community, Indian Country, Latinx community (Spanish and English), Black Gay Men, and Heterosexuals, as well as regional trainings on stigma.

The Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming training (July 6-9) will be coordinated by Lauren Miller. Please email or phone (202-997-0951) with questions. The trainers for this session will be Aryah Lester, Tori Cooper and Ja’Mel Ware. The goal is to create a safe space for the transgender/gender non-conforming community to share, learn, and build community.
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The Indian Country training (July 12-14) will be coordinated by Christopher J. Paisano. Please email or phone (202-997-0396) with questions. The goal is to create a safe space for American Indian/Alaska Natives living with HIV to share, learn, and build community.

There are two trainings targeting the Latinx community (July 19-23 in Spanish & August 16-20 in English). Cora Trelles Cartagena is the coordinator for these trainings. You can reach her via email or phone (202-870-0481). The goal is to create a safe space for the Latinx community to share, learn, and build community.

The Black Gay Men living with HIV training (August 2-6) will be coordinated by Charles Shazor Jr.. Please email or phone (202-302-7515) with questions. The goal is to create a safe space for Black Gay Men living with HIV to share, learn, and build community.

The training for Cisgender Heterosexuals living with HIV will be coordinated by Gabriella Spencer and Lauren Miller. Lauren’s information is above. You can email or phone (202-738-0935) Gabriella with any questions. The goal is to create a safe space for heterosexuals living with HIV to share, learn, and build community.

Additionally, NMAC will host three regional Stigma Reduction trainings (Aug 23-27, Aug 30-Sep 4, & Sep 13-17). These trainings will be coordinated by Terrell Parker and Christopher J. Paisano. Christopher’s information is above. You can email or phone (202-997-5598) Terrell. The goal of these trainings is to bring PLHIVs together with their Ryan White service provider to reduce HIV stigma in the HIV workplace.  The deadline to apply for the stigma trainings is July 9. In addition to the trainings, we will also provide Agency level Technical Assistance and Learning Collaboratives.

Our goal is to build communities of people living with HIV who are ready to work to end the HIV epidemic in America. We also hope to address HIV stigma in the HIV workplace because too many PLHIV are not retained in HIV care.

Yours in the struggle,
Paul Kawata
NMAC

Paul Kawata

 

 

 

 

 

 

ESCALATE is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1,600,906.100 percentage funded by HRSA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

ELEVATE is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $796,749.00 with 100 percentage funded by HRSA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

God is Love and Love is for Everyone

I recently flew to Long Beach to be with my friend Archbishop Carl Bean as he begins his hospice journey. Normally this would be a very private moment, but Carl needs our help. He is a proud man who would be mortified that I am sharing his Go Fund Me campaign, but he needs support. Some of you might not know Carl but, in the Black LGBTQ community, he is a hero, preacher, and fighter against HIV in the African American community. If you never got to see him preach (watch), you missed something special. Carl fought against discrimination and oppression. He is the founder of the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, the Minority AIDS Project and NMAC.

Carl spent his life fighting for the poor. He built the largest national movement of Black LGBTQ churches. As a minister, he never took a salary or paid into social security. As a result, he finds himself at the end of his life well lived without resources. While his hospice is clean and safe, he is sharing a room with two strangers who are also dying. There is a sheet that separates these odd roommates. It was hard to see him in these conditions. The world is not a fair place for people who are poor, even with friends like Congresswomen Maxine Waters (who visited Carl three days earlier). While friends are writing checks, he still needs some help. Please go to his Go Fund Me page.

This photo of us was taken by the Los Angeles Blade after the Rodney King verdict and the riots in LA in 1992. Carl asked me to join him to facilitate conversations between the African American and Asian communities. Back then, it felt like we were fighting two different epidemics: one that was well funded and one for the poor. For Carl, the work would always be centered on the poor.

I met Carl in the mid-‘80s when he opened the Minority AIDS Project as a program of the Unity Fellowship Church in South Central Los Angeles in his community, the Black LGBTQ community. At the time it was revolutionary. There were services for the LGBTQ community in West Hollywood and services for African Americans in Compton, but Carl understood the unique need for HIV services targeting Black gay men. He was very concerned about discrimination his community would face. He created a religious movement and nonprofit HIV agency that would provide services in a nonjudgmental fashion, services that were grounded in the history and legacy of the African American community but targeting Black gay men.

We served unique roles in each other’s lives. I was his safety net, the place where he could let his hair down and not be the archbishop. He was my traveling buddy, the person I counted on to get me away from the crazy lives we led as leaders in the HIV movement. In one day, Carl might visit someone who was sick with AIDS, then go preside at a memorial for someone he did not know because too many churches denied burials. He might close the night with a family that must make too many difficult decisions. This was the groundswell of both our lives, a never-ending onslaught of death and sickness that is still too difficult to describe.

Our shared pain was the bond that brought us together like so many in the early days. Carl introduced me and got me to love the Black church or at least his version of one. He preached liberation theology where “God is Love and Love is for Everyone.” Every Sunday his church was packed with mostly African American LGBTQ parishioners, but it could be any Black church in America. People of all genders wore their crowns as all good church mothers do. The choir was singing “come to the light” at the top of their lungs. Just as the organ had everybody standing and clapping, Carl would emerge. He knew how to give them a show. His message of love and acceptance was particularly important to Black LGBTQ people, but everyone was welcomed. His church was a place where people could be themselves and know that God loves them.

To be honest, I was not that close to God. AIDS left me feeling betrayed and lost. How could there be a God when there was so much pain and death? I could not adjust my mind to this contradiction until Carl came into my life. He asked for nothing as he took care of people who had been rejected by their families and friends, people facing multiple issues with drugs, incarceration, and HIV. Soon it would be in numbers that are still too hard to fathom. Through his work I could see God.

I think the constant pressure of leading a religious movement and the PTSD from the early days of AIDS came to a breaking point around five years ago. Carl had a stroke and essentially became home bound. He could not leave his home or see his friends for long extended periods. On my last day at the hospice, I thought it would be nice to share a meal. I asked Carl about his favorite foods. Carl loved to eat. He wanted “steak, baked potato, and carrot cake.” Thank God fUber eats could deliver to the hospice. We used adult diapers as a tablecloth and quietly chowed down. There was so much that I wanted to say, so much that I needed to say, but I chickened out. I was not ready to say goodbye. I was not ready for the ritual of death. Instead, I jumped up and said that I would see him soon and abruptly exited. Not my best moment.

I wasn’t ready to tell Carl how much I loved him, to tell him that his life changed the world. His friendship made me a better person. I will, just not today. It was too soon, and I wasn’t ready. The plane back to DC is packed. Thankfully, everyone is wearing masks, so no one pays attention to the old Asian man crying. He wants to be strong but sometimes it is so hard.

Yours in the struggle,
Paul Kawata
NMAC

Paul Kawata

 

 

 

 

 

Addressing HIV Stigma in the HIV Workplace: Training, Technical Assistance & Learning Collaboratives

Ending the HIV epidemic in America starts with addressing HIV stigma in the HIV workplace. NMAC believes the best way to create real change is by building partnerships between people living with HIV (PLHIV) and their Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) service providers. Thanks to funding from HRSA-HAB, NMAC put together this new stigma reduction program with three different learning modalities: 1) trainings, 2) technical assistance, and 3) learning collaboratives in a program called ESCALATE (Ending Stigma through Collaboration and Lifting all to Empowerment). Click here to find out how to register. Participants can only register if they are part of a team that includes a PLWH and their RWHAP service provider.

NMAC believes the best way to reduce structural HIV stigma is through honest dialogues that are followed with updated policies and procedures that focus on HIV stigma reduction in the workplace. We are looking for real solutions that are client centered. NMAC wants to provide a neutral safe space to have these difficult discussions.

This work will not be easy. HIV stigma sits at the intersection of race, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Because it’s NMAC, we’re going to prioritize race and its impact on HIV services. Yes, we are going there. The solutions are not cookie cutter. We understand the need to tailor policies and procedures. Our efforts will address HIV stigma in the RWHAP workplace. It will not reduce HIV stigma in the larger world.

Trainings are the entry level learning modality. They are for RWHAP funded agencies and PLHIV that are starting to work on stigma reduction. The trainings will bring together teams (providers and clients) to provide an overview of HIV stigma. By the end of the training, teams will develop their first steps to reduce stigma in the workplace. Technical Assistance (TA) is for RWHAP providers who are looking for one-on-one assistance. TA will be specific to the agency seeking assistance and will look at the implementation of tailor-made stigma reducing activities. Learning Collaboratives (LC) are for the advanced RWHAP provider teams (to include PLHIV) who want to be a part of an ongoing group that will implement tests of change using an improvement framework and share their experiences with the other teams. LCs will focus on cultural humility and its role in HIV stigma reduction. We provide different modalities because organizations are in different places among the HIV stigma spectrum, and we want to meet you where you are at.

This HIV stigma reduction initiative is centered on NMAC’s work to end the HIV epidemic in America. There are too many PLWH who have fallen out of HIV care. We believe that providers need to address HIV stigma in partnership with PLHIV. The TA will be provided by Abt Associates, and the LCs will be coordinated by NORC. NMAC will be the lead for the trainings. These learning modalities will start this summer virtually with in-person work slated for 2022. Our stigma reduction efforts are part of a four-year cooperative agreement with HRSA-HAB using the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund. For more information, please email ESCALATE@nmac.org.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata
NMAC

Paul Kawata

 

 

 

 

 

ESCALATE is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Minority AIDS Initiative as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1,600,906.100 percentage funded by HRSA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

Policy Recommendations to Improve the Health of Older People Living with HIV




BLOC en español: Now available NATIONWIDE

NMAC proudly announces the Building Leaders of Color/ Formando líderes de color (BLOC) en español virtual training program this July 19- 23, 2021 (10am -3PM CST). The main goal of BLOC en español is to increase the meaningful participation of Persons of Color with HIV who are prepared to engage in leadership roles and activities related to HIV service delivery in their communities. The training will be facilitated in Spanish.

BLOC en español is designed in Spanish to provide language justice and cultural humility to the Latinx community. The program also utilizes NMAC’s new learning management system (the HIV-E virtual platform) and a tutorial prior will be provided. BLOC en español’s learning objectives include:

  • Leadership development for community engagement including defining traits and characteristics of leaders
  • Developing a community lens on the forms of stigmas including enacted and layered stigma
  • What are and how to use health numeracy, measurement tools, and patient support tools for planning
  • Developing skills to effectively be engaged in surveillance, evaluation, calculations, data analysis, and performance measurements as a community leader
  • Increase knowledge of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and other planning bodies for involvement
  • Elaborate leadership opportunities considering self-care
  • Develop individualized action goals and goal statements for seeking leadership opportunities

After completing the program participants are encouraged to engage in the planning process with a local community group serving persons living with HIV such as, Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program planning bodies. The program is available for all people with HIV (PWH) who reside in the U.S and territories whose primary language is Spanish. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program recipients are highly encouraged to apply. The program will recruit up to 20 participants.

Apply by Wednesday, July 15th, 2021, using the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BLOC_Enationwide

For more information contact: Cora Trelles Cartagena (She/Ella), HIV Systems Coordinator at ccartagena@nmac.org or 202-870-0481. Please visit us at nmac.org, Twitter/Facebook: @NMACCommunity and Instagram: @nmachiv.

 

BLOC en español: Ahora disponible a NIVEL NACIONAL

NMAC se enorgullece en anunciar el programa virtual de capacitación, Building Leaders of Color/ Formando líderes de color (BLOC) en español este julio 19- 23, 2021 (10am-3PM CST). El objetivo principal de BLOC en español es incrementar la participación significativa de personas de color con VIH quienes están preparadas para asumir roles de liderazgo y actividades relacionadas a la prestación de servicios de HIV en sus comunidades. La capacitación es facilitada en español.

BLOC en español ha sido diseñado en español para proveer justicia de lenguaje y humildad cultural a la comunidad latinx. La capacitación también utiliza el nuevo sistema para el manejo de enseñanza de NMAC (la plataforma virtual HIV-E) y un tutorial será ofrecido antes del programa. Los objetivos de aprendizaje de BLOC en español incluyen:

  • Desarrollo de liderazgo para interactuar con la comunidad incluyendo características y rasgos de lideres
  • Desarrollo de un lente comunitario sobre las formas de estigma incluyendo el estigma promulgado y el estigma de capas múltiples.
  • Entendimiento de cuales son y como se usan conceptos numéricos, herramientas de medidas de cálculo y herramientas para planificación de apoyo a pacientes.
  • Desarrollar habilidades como líder comunitario sobre como participar efectivamente en la vigilancia, evaluación, el cálculo, el análisis de datos y la medición del desempeño
  • Aumentar el conocimiento sobre el Programa Ryan White de VIH/SIDA y otros grupos de planificación para oportunidades de participación significativa.
  • Elaborar sobre oportunidades de liderazgo considerando el autocuidado

Desarrollar metas de acción individualizadas y declaraciones de metas para identificar oportunidades de liderazgo
Después de terminar la capacitación, alentamos a los participantes a comprometerse en el proceso de la toma de decisiones y planificación de servicios en grupos comunitarios que sirva a personas con VIH (PWH, por sus siglas en inglés), como los consejos de planificación del Programa Ryan White de VIH/SIDA. La capacitación está disponible para personas con VIH (PWH, por sus siglas en inglés) que vivan en Estados Unidos y territorios, y cuyo lenguaje primario es español. Se sugiere la participación de personas que reciben servicios del Programa Ryan White de VIH/SIDA. Esta capacitación reclutará hasta 20 participantes.

Por favor solicitar antes del miércoles, julio 15, 2021 utilizando el siguiente enlace:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BLOC_Enationwide

Para más información contactar a Cora Trelles Cartagena (Ella/She), Coordinadora de sistemas de VIH a ccartagena@nmac.org o al 202-870-0481.
Visite nuestra página web nmac.org, Twitter/Facebook: @NMACCommunity e Instagram: @nmachiv.

The Building Leaders of Color (BLOC) en español program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $550,000 with 100% percentage funded by HRSA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

ESCALATE 101




Addressing HIV Stigma in the HIV Workplace: Training, Technical Assistance & Learning Collaboratives

Ending the HIV epidemic in America starts with addressing HIV stigma in the HIV workplace. NMAC believes the best way to create real change is by building partnerships between people living with HIV (PLHIV) and their Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) service providers. Thanks to funding from HRSA-HAB, NMAC put together this new stigma reduction program with three different learning modalities: 1) trainings, 2) technical assistance, and 3) learning collaboratives in a program called ESCALATE (Ending Stigma through Collaboration and Lifting all to Empowerment). Click here to find out how to register. Participants can only register if they are part of a team that includes a PLWH and their RWHAP service provider.

NMAC believes the best way to reduce structural HIV stigma is through honest dialogues that are followed with updated policies and procedures that focus on HIV stigma reduction in the workplace. We are looking for real solutions that are client centered. NMAC wants to provide a neutral safe space to have these difficult discussions.

This work will not be easy. HIV stigma sits at the intersection of race, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Because it’s NMAC, we’re going to prioritize race and its impact on HIV services. Yes, we are going there. The solutions are not cookie cutter. We understand the need to tailor policies and procedures. Our efforts will address HIV stigma in the RWHAP workplace. It will not reduce HIV stigma in the larger world.

Trainings are the entry level learning modality. They are for RWHAP funded agencies and PLHIV that are starting to work on stigma reduction. The trainings will bring together teams (providers and clients) to provide an overview of HIV stigma. By the end of the training, teams will develop their first steps to reduce stigma in the workplace. Technical Assistance (TA) is for RWHAP providers who are looking for one-on-one assistance. TA will be specific to the agency seeking assistance and will look at the implementation of tailor-made stigma reducing activities. Learning Collaboratives (LC) are for the advanced RWHAP provider teams (to include PLHIV) who want to be a part of an ongoing group that will implement tests of change using an improvement framework and share their experiences with the other teams. LCs will focus on cultural humility and its role in HIV stigma reduction. We provide different modalities because organizations are in different places among the HIV stigma spectrum, and we want to meet you where you are at.

This HIV stigma reduction initiative is centered on NMAC’s work to end the HIV epidemic in America. There are too many PLWH who have fallen out of HIV care. We believe that providers need to address HIV stigma in partnership with PLHIV. The TA will be provided by Abt Associates, and the LCs will be coordinated by NORC. NMAC will be the lead for the trainings. These learning modalities will start this summer virtually with in-person work slated for 2022. Our stigma reduction efforts are part of a four-year cooperative agreement with HRSA-HAB using the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund. For more information, please email ESCALATE@nmac.org.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata
NMAC

Paul Kawata

ESCALATE is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1,600,906.100 percentage funded by HRSA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

Dear Harold

NMAC logoJune 8, 2021

Mr. Harold Phillips
The White House
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Harold,

Congratulations on your well-deserved selection as the next Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. Please thank the President and Dr. Rice for including community in this important decision. You have NMAC’s support, and we look forward to working with the administration to end the HIV epidemic.

Your life is about to change. As a Black Gay Man leading our nation’s efforts to end the HIV epidemic, you stand on the shoulders of Reggie Williams, Calu Lester, Alvin Ailey, Tim Offutt, Craig Harris, Max Robinson, Ron Simmons, Willli Smith, Sylvester, and many other Black Gay heroes we lost to HIV. While most people know you from your work at HRSA-HAB, I get to brag that you got your start at NMAC.

With your new appointment, community needs you to deliver. There are too many people living with HIV who have fallen out of care. There are too many people who need PrEP, but we can’t seem to reach them. While the solution to ending the HIV epidemic might be biomedical, it is not simple. That’s the problem with the previous administration’s strategy. They believed you just needed to make medications available. The reality is so much more complex and nuanced.

COVID has pressed pause on everyone’s work but, as America reopens, it’s time to get back to planning to end HIV. While we appreciate the President’s commitment for more HIV funds, we also need to make sure the funding goes to where it is most needed. I believe the Biden-Harris administration is looking for ways to bring racial equity to government. HIV sits at the intersection of that search. What does it mean to bring racial equity to our fight to end the HIV epidemic in America? How will HHS, HUD, CDC, HRSA, SAMHSA, CMS, NIH, OAR, NIAID, and other federal agencies be required to carry out this White House mandate?

With your new appointment, community needs you to fight. While we are very happy that you got this job, it only works if you fight for us. As a member of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, we need you to bring the fight to end HIV to them. Too many people think the epidemic is over. Your voice represents more than you, it is the voice of the multitude of communities fighting HIV.

It is time to reconstitute the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), and it needs to be real. Your office needs the support of a Council that embraces the White House’s commitment to racial equity across government, a Council that understands it’s here to support you and the President to end the HIV epidemic.

The HIV community is extremely diverse and you can’t please everyone. There will be times when community may disagree with the administration. Please do not take critiques personally. As your job is to stand-up for the President, our job is to stand for community. I believe there will be lots of agreement, as the White House has shown their commitment to healing America.

As you prioritize tasks, we look forward to the Biden-Harris plan to end the HIV epidemic. There is no need for a completely new process; however, the previous plan did not directly address race and its impact on ending the epidemic. As I know you understand, addressing the racial divide in HIV is core to ending the epidemic. For too long we’ve danced around race and racism and focused on things like the social determinates of health. The color of your skin should never be a factor in your health outcomes, yet for too many diseases this is true. HIV can be the example for how to use race to address too many health disparities in America.

As you know, the population of people living with HIV is aging. While this is wonderful, it was not something fully anticipated when the original Ryan White program was envisioned. Now we need to make sure the HIV service mix includes specialty care like gerontology. While PLWH are living longer, they also face multiple challenges from aging and HIV. The Biden-Harris administration needs to create and implement a comprehensive “standard of HIV care” for this growing community.

The White House needs to tell the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stop classifying people with transgender experience with gay men in their HIV epidemiology profiles. Justice for the transgender community starts by having CDC understand the difference between gender identity vs. sexual orientation. Too many administrations have promised to make this change, yet nothing ever happens. Ideally, we hope Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachael Levine leads this charge.

The Biden-Harris plan should take a systemic approach to ending infectious diseases in America. It’s not enough to focus on HIV. Now is the time to also address Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Hepatitis. You can end three more epidemics that have challenged America for too long. Our solutions should focus on the whole community and not any one disease. As COVID has shown us, there is a great need for comprehensive health infrastructures in too many communities in America. The plan to end HIV should serve as the foundation for bringing healthcare to communities that are too often overlooked. As we used the HIV vaccine infrastructure to test the efficacy of COVID vaccines, now we can use the HIV prevention and care infrastructure to bring long term health to communities in need.

Harold, I am so proud of what you accomplished. Now is the time to take those years of experience working at NMAC and HRSA-HAB to build the plan that you know is needed to end the epidemics. NMAC stands in solidarity with you and the administration. We will see you at the Opening Plenary for the 2021 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS, so please bring your boss.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata
NMAC
Paul Kawata's Signature