USCHA Dress Code

The United States Conference on HIV/AIDS is a safe space for people highly impacted by HIV. Please read and follow the Anti-Harassment Policy. The gathering values diversity, equality, and justice. Attendees can be themselves in all their fabulosity. However, the world still hates us, so please be careful outside of the bubble. Out of respect and to honor Congresswoman Maxine Waters and all the Black Women (cis & trans) fighting to end the epidemic, we ask attendees to dress in their Sunday Best for the Opening Plenary on Wednesday, September 6th. Crowns are optional but encouraged. Last year staff wore Guayaberas, this year maybe crowns. Being an ally opens your world to new experiences and traditions. Learning the values, hopes, and dreams of the communities we need to reach is central to our work. As we have documented, there is not a one size fits all PrEP program. Our efforts must speak to the diversity of people our work needs to reach and do it by honoring their cultures.

The 2023 USCHA will be one of our largest gatherings. Our movement is showing up for Black Women the way they show up for us. Registration is closed because we’ve reached capacity. I apologize to folks who cannot attend. I know it’s disappointing. There is an underground market for registrations but we do not recommend buying a registration from a stranger.

USCHA asks for patience and understanding when moving thousands of people from workshops to plenaries back to workshops. Community drives the vision and trainings. USCHA thanks the amazing advisory committee:

Early on, I was politely told to stay out. The meeting was curated by Black Women and my job was to learn how to be an ally. Before you talk about what the meeting didn’t include, experience all the new things that are added this year. Let USCHA unfold and be surprised. Don’t let the haters take your joy!

While the focus is on Black Women, the online agenda lists workshops, posters, and institutes that address the variety of communities highly impacted by HIV. It is interesting that I did not get the same feedback last year when we focused on Puerto Rico. Think of the women who sit through too many HIV meetings that mostly prioritize men.

Thirty-five percent of the attendees are living with HIV. COVID is on an upswing. USCHA encourages all attendees to wear masks. Since we are not experts, the conference will follow all local health department rules. We invite participants to be fully vaccinated.

Please use social media to tell the story of Black Women and HIV. There will be many Instagramable Moments! Post or link to NMAC’s Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube pages. HIV is not over; we are still fighting to end the epidemic. The public narrative is dominated by anti-woke elected officials who want to “take America back.” We need a counter narrative that celebrates the beauty and diversity of our communities, particularly the transgender community. If we don’t fight back, they win.

For new attendees, protests are part of the USCHA experience. It is in the DNA of our movement. However, USCHA draws a clear line between protests and violence. Violence is never acceptable. If your agency is planning a demonstration, please let the organizers know in advance. The optics of a protest can be very challenging if you are shutting down the voices of Black Women.

USCHA could not happen without our sponsors, particularly to cover the cost of hundreds of scholarships. We are grateful for their support.

I look forward to seeing everyone. Please be safe, as travel is crazy right now. Download the conference app. Late breaking information will be posted there. There will not be a printed program; however, you can print out the online version.

Yours in the Struggle,





Paul Kawata

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). 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

USCHA Host Hotel Sold Out

The 2023 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS host hotel is sold out. The meeting had a record number of early bird registrations. Rooms are still available at overflow hotels; however, they are very limited. Register for the conference to get access to the hotel booking system. Regular registration closes on August 4, 2023. Rooms in the host hotel have been set aside for scholarship recipients.

This year’s meeting is a Love Letter to Black Women. The inspiration came from our desire to honor Kim Ferrell, NMAC’s Deputy Director. After 18 years at the agency, she is retiring. Like so many Black women, Kim is the heart and soul of NMAC, the glue that holds us together, especially during difficult times. She brings stability while I go off on another wacky tangent. NMAC would not be NMAC without Kim and the Black women (cis and trans) on our staff, board, and community advisory panels. Black women are 50% of staff and 50% of the senior leadership team. The conference team is all Black women led by Tara Barnes who has worked at NMAC for almost 25 years. I celebrate all of them.

We want to hear about the Black women who volunteer, staff, and lead our movements efforts to end the HIV epidemic in America.  Please help us write our love letter for the collective tribute. The deadline is July 14th. Tell the stories of the black women who have made an impact. USCHA will hold up women living with HIV, elders, case workers, mothers, researchers, teachers, and upcoming leaders. Let’s give them their flowers.

2023 USCHA prioritizes Black Women via a special track of workshops:

  • “Changing the Narrative One Survivor at a Time”
  • New Nickels, A Journey of Black Women and HIV Stigma
  • Using Photovoice to document HIV Care barriers for Black Women
  • Pleasure Principle: Brown Sugar Vol PrEP
  • SHEBoutique: Healthcare that never goes out of style
  • Unbreakable Spirit: Championing PrEP and Co-Regulation for Black Women
  • Movement Building with Immigrant Black women living with HIV
  • Intergenerational Resilience Spaces for Black Women Living with HIV
  • “HIV Possible” Centering Faith Based Resources and Direct Service WOC
  • Tile in PPT –Black Women in HIV: The Challenge to Being Effective Leaders
  • For Us by Us: The Forgotten Black Women in HIV
  • Unexpected: Supporting the Needs of Black Mothers Living with HIV
  • “Risky-A Talk Test Treat Conversation” The Power of Social Influencers
  • Truth Telling: Conversations on Recruiting Black Women in HIV Research
  • UPDOs! A salon based PrEP uptake intervention for Black Women
  • Retention in Care for cisgender and transgender Black Women
  • Self-Care as Activism with the Black Women’s Prevention Green Book
  • TWIST: A CDC Supported Intervention Co-Authored by Transgender Women
  • Ending the HIV Epidemic: Black Women, HBCUs, & PrEP Uptake

Here is the list of some of the workshops that includes tracks on 1) Best Practices in Telehealth, 2) Biomedical HIV Prevention, 3) Ending the Epidemic, 4) Public Policy, 5) Race & Racism, 6) Stigma and Prioritizing PLHIV, 7) Treatment Research & Information, and 8) Curated and poster presentations. This is not a final list as other workshops are being curated by partners.

The Opening Plenary will be our movement’s Love Letter to Black Women. Tara has pulled together an advisory committee of cis and trans women to tell stories about the central role Black Women play in our efforts to end the epidemics and to celebrate Black Girl Magic.

There are many other exciting plans and all will be revealed. This year’s meeting is also a lesson on “how to be an ally.”

According to Texas Christian University:
Allies at TCU actively engage with LGBTQIA + students in an open and affirming way. All TCU students need to be fully and authentically welcomed, as they are. Making sure classroom discussions, interactions and assignments are inclusive and welcoming of LGBTQIA + people is essential. Students focused on creating safety within friend groups and organizations allow LGBTQIA+ students to authentically engage with their community and peer groups. Every member of the TCU community bears the responsibility of being an ally.

According to the Harvard Law Review:
We view allyship as a strategic mechanism used by individuals to become collaborators, accomplices, and coconspirators who fight injustice and promote equity in the workplace through supportive personal relationships and public acts of sponsorship and advocacy.

How does the HIV movement stand in allyship with Black women? USCHA works to be inclusive. We welcome everyone, especially communities highly impacted by HIV. During these politically divided times, how to be an ally across movements is core to building a world without hate. I know you know that. It is the big lesson of the HIV movement. Fighting back and working together, we changed the world.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata

Take Me Home

Take Me Home is not only a 1979 disco hit by Cher, but also an important initiative to distribute one million free HIV self-tests over the next five years. Click on the link to see if you are eligible. Together Take Me Home is funded by the CDC, in partnership with Emory University, BHOC, NASTAD, Signal Group, and OraSure. Just to be clear, Cher is not involved in this initiative, but I know she supports us! Anyone who could pull off a gold metal bikini with a winged headdress must be on our side.

The CDC says 13% of Americans living with HIV are unaware of their status. June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. Please post a photo of Cher on your social media and hyperlink to the Take Me Home website ( Use this awareness day to inform EVERYONE about free home HIV test kits. Hashtag #Cher, #NMAC, and other friends. Ask them to share with their networks. Maybe even the Queen herself will respond; you never know. Too many people living with HIV are unaware of their status. Shaming never works. This program overcomes two important barriers: it’s free and you can do it at home. Everyone is concerned about privacy, so here is their policy. I’ve worked with the CDC for decades and they take this very seriously.

It took me a long time to take my first HIV test. It was the 1980s and there were no treatments, so I figured “why bother?” I assumed I was positive because there was no difference between me and too many of my friends who were sick and dying. I had enough trauma! I didn’t need to add my HIV status. I was also a scared kid in my 20s with his whole life ahead of him. Did I want to know I was dying when there were no options? Way too late I took the test, to find out I was negative. That result is still a mystery. I did everything and more. I don’t want to add to the stigma of being positive, so I seldom mention my HIV status. I continue to get an annual HIV test. Lately, I do it in solidarity with gay men and not necessarily for me. Technology has changed the way we interact with the world. In the olden days you made an appointment for an HIV test by calling on a phone, walk/drive to your clinic, wait in line in a public space, hear your name getting called, answering questions that could be embarrassing, getting your blood drawn, and waiting. I mean days. Now it can happen in the privacy of your home with proven technology and its free.

The CDC, Emory, BHOC, NASTAD, Signal Group, and OraSure are betting that free and convenient can overcome hesitancy, particularly in the communities hardest hit by HIV. While it’s too early for results, I appreciate the innovation. Our work needs to grow and expand with the times. That means using home testing options that were previously unavailable. Work to end the epidemic must prioritize HIV testing. It is the entry point to care and/or HIV prevention/PrEP.

As we expand our efforts to reach the communities hardest hit by HIV, we need to build and reach their social media. TikTok clearly has an algorithm to identify those influencers. Let’s ask/pay them to post about this initiative. HIV prevention understands the value of reaching communities where they are. Right now, many of them are on social media. Sharing content by telling stories builds an army of influencers who post about HIV. How do we use these tools to increase our HIV testing, PrEP, and U=U numbers? It starts with posting photos of Cher and directing people to the Together Take Me Home webpage.

This is not an NMAC initiative; however, as a CDC PACT leader, we support this important effort. Part of my job is to highlight good work happening across our movement. As a young gay boy, I have many memories of Cher and her Bob Mackie gowns. It’s part of the reason why I knew I was gay. I didn’t want to be with Cher, I wanted to wear her dresses. To be as fierce and outrageous as the original. Cher is part of the pantheon of heroes who helped us survive some very difficult times.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata

NMAC’s 50+ Strong & Healthy 2023 Mini Grants

HIV 50+ - Strong & HealthyEach year, NMAC is proud to support several of our 50+ scholars as they implement projects in their local communities designed to impact older adults living with HIV. This year, we’re excited to announce the five projects that have been awarded a $2,500 mini grant. Many thanks to the scholars who have designed these community projects, and their local community collaborators who will help implement the project. Read more about our grantees below.

Kneeshe Parkinson and RISE IMPACT

“HERSTORY IS COURAGE” will create a community of storytellers to combat HIV-related stigma and improve health through treatment adherence. This is a homegrown, community-informed and evidence-based intervention. We will utilize a three-stage peer-led discussion group to address social determinants of health, promote vocational development, increase social health support, and decrease isolation for women over the age of 50 living with HIV. The program will be implemented by RISE IMPACT (Rejuvenate, Influence Self- Elevation on Impact), an organization dedicated to educating, strengthening, and empowering women, youth, and families. RISE IMPACT provides life-changing outcomes for marginalized communities.

Charles Debnam and Community Wellness Alliance Collaborative

Living Tobacco Free (HIV+ and Aging): Through focus group discussions, this project aims to gather information and data that will help identify ways the Aging HIV+ smoking community can quit smoking. Participants will receive a presentation called, “Healthy Lifestyles,” which addresses the history of tobacco, the harms it causes, and where to get help.  We will then engage participants in a focus group-style discussion on why they smoke, challenges they have with quitting, and look at what type of messages either on TV, social media etc. they would like to see to help them quit and who best to deliver these messages. Focus groups will only be open to 50+ individuals living with HIV who smoke.

Franklin Sampley and Affirming Christian Fellowship

This grant will expand a scholarship program specifically for those who are 50+ to attend the Affirming Christian Fellowship conference.  The goal will be to build community through ongoing support for those who are a part of the LGBT Christian community and living with HIV, with an emphasis on those 50+. During the conference, we will conduct a workshop/panel discussion with those living with HIV and church/ministry leadership, have a luncheon for face-to-face meeting time with the scholarship recipients, have a lounge for those living with HIV, and have a display table for materials related to HIV prevention, treatment, and ministry.

Alicia Diggs and SERO Project

“Paint and Learn for a Healthier You” is a project designed to help teach cisgender women 50+ living with HIV some fundamentals around nutrition, healthy eating, and self-care. This event will include:

  • Sharing tips on shopping for healthy food on a budget
  • How to meal plan and prep stress free
  • Therapeutic painting to offer emotional release of stress or anxiety with hopes of giving participants reminders to focus on self while having fun

The anticipated outcomes of this half day seminar for 20-30 cisgender women who are 50 years of age and older living with HIV, will result in them having learned healthier eating habits, meal prep ideas on a budget, and holistic self-care while having fun doing it. It is anticipated that participants will gain more power over their health needs and share what they have learned with others in their family and in their community.

Stephanie Laster and Lepena Reid and Diamond Ministries Inc.

Women over 50+ aging with HIV require comprehensive health care and health education to manage and prevent multiple comorbidities. Our project will serve 10 women living with HIV in the southern United States in this effort. We will have 5 one-hour virtual sessions. Our outcomes consist of reducing fear, anxiety, and isolation among those aging with HIV in the south and to improve health literacy among these women. We will have pre and post-test assessments, polls, and evaluations after each session. We will have a guest speaker for each session, including Infectious disease physicians, HIV research study professionals and community advocates.