“Annoy Them…Survive”

Scary Times

I hesitated to write this week’s Ending the HIV Epidemic e-newsletter. Like too many of us, I am angry, scared, concerned, but mostly I am pissed off.  Pissed off because they made me afraid. Afraid because too many things outside of my control can go wrong. I feel helpless and I hate feeling helpless.

At the same time, too many are dead from COVID, particularly within communities of color. There is a vaccine, but the roll-out is another gift from the administration. I know that many in our diverse communities are afraid to get the shot. I understand. Look around us. The world is going to hell in a handbag (I love that phrase) and you want me to take a vaccine that was developed too quickly. No sir, I am not your canary in the mine. For me, I trust Dr. Fauci. If Dr. Fauci says I should take the vaccine, that’s good enough for me. During these difficult times, we have to believe in something, and I believe in science.

The federal government needs 75% to 80% of Americans to get the shots. They will have to rebuild lots of trust with community to reach those types of numbers. That same trust is needed for federal PrEP and U=U efforts to succeed. Too many initiatives (DEBBI) don’t work because they were not centered in community.  Trust is core to the solution; without it we are just another failed attempt to make a square peg fit into a round hole. When the Biden administration says Black Lives Matter, NMAC says prove it by ending the HIV epidemic.

Paycheck Protection Program Latest Round

When putting together this piece, it seemed wrong not to acknowledge the insane situation called life in America; however, its real purpose was to discuss the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program that opened yesterday on January 11th. While it is very similar to the last PPP, please work with your bank to understand the details. Once again it is first come first serve. Once the money runs out there are no guarantees of more funding.

In some way, that’s how I am coping. I have no control over the Proud Boys, but I can make sure that NMAC survives. As my friend Lark Lands used to say, “Annoy them… Survive.”

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata
NMAC
Paul Kawata

Planning for a New Administration

Last week President-elect Biden officially committed to reinstating the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) at the White House. Now is the time for the HIV community to weigh-in, particularly since this leader will be the President’s representative in our struggle to end the HIV epidemic (EHE) in America. NMAC hopes the Biden administration will consider ending HIV as an integral component of their commitment to racial justice in America.

Here are some of the critical skills that NMAC hopes for the leader of ONAP:

  • Integrate EHE efforts with the Biden administration’s commitment to Black Lives Matter,
  • Passionate leader living with HIV from community,
  • Expand office to focus on the syndemic epidemics of HIV, STDs, and Hepatitis,
  • Work with the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) and Congress to ensure full funding of EHE efforts,
  • Understand the complexities and challenges of HIV Implementation Science,
  • Use the imprimatur of the White House to bring community and federal agencies together to figure out real EHE solutions,
  • Full and active voice on the Domestic Policy Council,
  • Voice in the HIV movement for the President, and
  • Voice of the HIV movement in the White House.

This list is far from comprehensive. What would you add? Let me know because NMAC is writing another letter to the Biden transition team this week. However, our work cannot be limited to ONAP. The President-Elect has already begun announcing his nomination for senior leadership roles and will appoint new leaders immediately after the inauguration. The civil servants will craft the way that we not only do business in Washington, but how America will function both domestically and around the world. We want to encourage each of you to get involved in building our country – from employment to advocacy. Our voices and our bodies are needed to End the HIV Epidemic. Now is our time.

2021 Virtual Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit
The 2021 Virtual Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit is March 30-31, 2021. This year the conference prioritizes implementation of of PrEP and U=U as the core services for ending HIV. While there is a COVID vaccine on the horizon, it is not in time for this year’s meeting. However, NMAC hopes we can have the 2021 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS in person in Washington DC on September 9-12. It will be an important opportunity to introduce members of the Biden administration to the HIV movement. We are closely monitoring the roll-out of the COVID vaccine and hope to make a final determination about meeting “in-person” in February.

The 2021 Summit will give out 1,500 scholarships to the virtual meeting. People living with HIV and people on PrEP will be prioritized. Click here to apply. NMAC understands the central role they play in ending the epidemic. The 2021 Summit goal is to bring leaders from the various target communities together with the staff responsible for EHE program implementation. Hopefully they are the same people, but too often this is not true. NMAC thanks Gilead for being the Presenting Sponsor for the 2021 Summit.

NMAC’s Hill Champions Event
Thank you to everyone who attended NMAC’s Hill Champions fundraiser. If you were unable to join us, please watch the event for free here. NMAC thanks Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Barbara Lee for the leadership our movement needs from them. It will be a very heavy lift to get full funding for our efforts to end the HIV epidemic.

NMAC needs your support as we get set to work with the new Biden administration. Please text NMAC to 50155 to donate. Thanks to a $20,000 matching challenge from NMAC board members Norm Nickens and John Hill, your donation will be doubled. We were able to increase HIV support by hundreds of millions of dollars in the Trump administration. Imagine what we can do during the Biden presidency. Thank you for your support and please be safe during these stressful times.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata 
NMAC

To President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

NMAC logo

Congratulations on your historic win! Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen yet again how much more racial and ethnic minorities are impacted by health emergencies. NMAC looks for your administration to prioritize racial justice and reconciliation. Vice President-elect Harris is uniquely positioned to speak to America’s longstanding and present-day systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. The heightened attention to the Black Lives Matter movement has once again shone a light on the systemic racism that African Americans face daily. Now we call on the Biden administration to offer meaningful change and sustainable solutions.

For NMAC, it’s hard to put into words the historic nature of the election of a woman born to Black and South Asian immigrants to be our Vice President. She represents us. In the United States, Blacks are the most HIV-impacted race of women in the United States. Your administration has committed to ending the HIV epidemic by 2025. NMAC and the entire HIV movement looks forward to making that a reality.

Solutions for ending the HIV epidemic must focus on race and dismantling systemic racism. The Biden era is an opportunity to reset the course of our work to end the HIV epidemic and to build solutions that are community-led and focused. Here are some of NMAC’s near term recommendations:

Transition Period
The HIV movement hopes to work with your administration on key presidential appointments in positions like the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH), as well as presidential staff at the CDC, FDA, HRSA, CMS, HUD/HOPWA, IHS and SAMHSA and to identify leaders who believe in science-based and evidenced solutions who will rebuild the community’s trust in government.

NMAC, like many HIV organizations, also recommends the new administration reestablish the Office of National AIDS/HIV Policy as part of the White House Domestic Policy Council. This act will reaffirm your commitment to end the HIV epidemic. The President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS should be housed back in the White House and we urge you to fill the many open slots. When filling the seats, we hope you will prioritize people living with HIV, especially from the diverse communities that are most impacted by the virus.

After Inauguration
On day one, NMAC asks the new administration for executive orders that reverse the Trump Administration’s efforts that directly or indirectly affected the communities highly impacted by HIV. For example, we cannot allow the elimination of trainings to address racial bias and its impact on our constituents. Now is the time to reassert the dignity, rights, and access to healthcare for BIPOC, women, and/or LGBTQ+ communities, particularly the transgender/non gender-conforming communities. For too long we have been minimized and made to feel not part of the American dream.

NMAC understands that every administration wants its own plans and strategies. President George H.W. Bush first signed the Ryan White CARE Act. President George W. Bush had the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. President Clinton appointed the first White House AIDS Czar. Under President Obama, the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy was created. President Trump’s administration expanded to a national effort on Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE). NMAC believes that an amalgam of these plans should be the blueprint for the Biden administration. Your administration must address the systemics in order to End the Epidemics of HIV, STIs, and Hepatitis. It’s time to think big by working to end three (3) epidemics.

The work starts with your FY21 budget. We urge you to fully fund efforts to end the HIV, STIs, and viral hepatitis epidemics. Additionally, we request full funding for the Ryan White program and HOPWA and a renewed commitment to finding an HIV vaccine and cure. HIV, STIs, and viral hepatitis sit at the intersection of many of your administration’s priorities, including healthcare, racial justice for BIPOC, LGBTQ+ communities, drug pricing, expanded access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act, and a public health option. The HIV community also looks to work closely with your administration to stop the criminalization of HIV transmission. Health conditions should not make someone more liable to criminal prosecution.

NMAC is closely monitoring the “nature” of your 2021 Inauguration. Will it be virtual or in-person? Either way, as we’ve done in the past, NMAC in coalition with other HIV organizations, will host an inauguration event. We hope you or a member of your senior team can join us to celebrate your inauguration.

Congratulations, we look forward to working together.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata 
NMAC

USCHA- The Home Stretch

Seven thousand people have registered to attend this year’s United States Conference on HIV/AIDS. Obviously, making the meeting free was a big contributor to this year’s attendance. These are tough times and everyone is hurting, so NMAC didn’t have another option. Thank you to our 2020 USCHA sponsors for standing with us and community.

This year’s virtual conference will be unlike any USCHA. While it will never replace in-person meetings, we hope it will remind everyone that they are part of the HIV family. The Opening Plenary sets the tone for the meeting by examining how racism stops our work from being successful and blocks our efforts to end HIV. It is a tough plenary, particularly for White people with privilege. It’s not enough to say you stand with Black lives; you also have to do the work. You have to hear and understand the stories of Black and Brown people and how racism impacts our daily existence. Part of the plenary will be in Spanish (with English translation) because NMAC wants attendees to understand the challenges facing non-English speaking or English as a second language clients and staff.

The meeting starts on Monday, October 19th at Noon (Eastern) or 9 AM (Pacific). An e-newsletter will go out that day at 10 AM (eastern)/7 AM (Pacific) with the conference URL and how to log onto the conference platform. You only need the email address that you used at registration. The conference platform will open at 11 AM (Eastern) with the Opening Plenary at Noon (Eastern)/9 AM (Pacific). The time zones can get a little tricky; however, sessions will be online for the next 12 months. NMAC will also host a webinar on Thursday, October 15th at 1 PM (Eastern) to familiarize attendees on the conference platform. Register here.

Get there early on Monday to explore the conference platform and to get a good seat at the Opening. The conference lobby sits at the intersection of Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC and the John Lewis mural in Atlanta. The exhibit hall is in front of the fence at Lafayette Square where protesters have sent messages to the White House. The information desk is in front of the Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin murals. NMAC’s goal is to show the HIV movement that we are part of the greater struggle for racial justice and health equity. Our work to end the epidemic must stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

While this all sounds amazing, my real concern is “will the platform crash with close to 7,000 people online.” In other words, we also need your patience and understanding. Staff is working hard, but it will be a photo finish. Like everyone, we’ve had to pivot into the unknown. We don’t know what we don’t know so we may be asking the wrong questions. Taking risks is the fuel that runs our movement. When HIV was discovered, we had no idea what to do. We only had each other and the hope that our friends would not die alone.

The 2020 Conference Program Book will go online this week. Please download it in advance of the meeting to figure out which sessions you want to attend live. If you miss a session, it will be online for the next 12 months. This year there are four plenaries. NMAC is hosting the Opening and Closing Plenaries. Gilead will put on a second plenary on Monday,  October 19th. ViiV put together the Tuesday, October 20th plenary. NMAC thanks our sponsors for their support. It allows us to make the meeting free. It is important to understand that sponsors had no input into NMAC’s sessions and we had no input into theirs. It is a difficult tightrope to walk between the need for resources to put on the meeting and keeping our voices independent of outside influence. It is particularly challenging for people of color who do not have the same access to money as our white counterparts.

Workshops will be prerecorded and live. The challenge will be the “live” question and answer portion with the workshop presenters. During this section, participants will hopefully be able to ask questions via the “chat” box. While most of us have been on zoom calls with 30 or 40 people, what happens when you have hundreds of attendees? There are 94 workshops and institutes. This photo was taken from the PACHA (President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS) workshop. NMAC wants to thank all of the presenters who donated their time.

Millions of people are losing their jobs because of COVID-19. At the same time, the HIV movement is getting its first influx of new money to end the HIV epidemic. With all this need, it was easy to envision a Jobs Fair, but much more difficult to make an integral part of this virtual meeting. Thankfully, we received announcements from more than 30 organizations to post during the conference. If you are looking for employment, please bring your resume and schedule information interviews with organizations who are hiring. NMAC’s goal is for our movement to hire people from the communities hardest hit by HIV.

Lounges are NMAC’s version of online affinity sessions. This year we invited community to put together lounges for likeminded groups to support people in the field and check-in with each other. COVID-19 has isolated too many people. As we know, this isolation can lead to depression. Look for lounges for People Over 50 Living with HIV, Transgender Lounge, PWH Lounge, Youth Lounge, and others. Lounges will be huge zoom check-in calls to see the faces and hear the voices of your colleagues. They might be a little messy, but that’s what makes them community.

The Closing Plenary on Wednesday, October 21st is our Federal Plenary. Rather than having the same old talking heads with their PowerPoints, this year’s plenary has NMAC staff asking questions to our federal leaders. We are very thankful that our old friend Dr. Anthony Fauci has recorded a special plenary talk. With all his work on COVID-19, we were honored that he found time to address USCHA.

It’s going to be a very different United States Conference on HIV/AIDS. We are thankful that so many of you will be joining us from your computer screens around the country. I miss everyone, we will be together again…

Yours in the struggle,

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020 USCHA Sits at the Intersection Between HIV, COVID-19, and Black Lives Matter

Please watch this clip created for the opening of the 2020 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS. NMAC believes that racism is a public health challenge and we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter to end the HIV epidemic in America. This year’s meeting looks at the intersection between HIV, COVID-19, and Black Lives Matter. The Opening Plenary is at Noon (eastern) on Monday, October 19th. You will need to register in advance. Registration closes Friday, Oct. 9. Access codes will be emailed just prior to the start of the meeting. The conference runs from October 19-21. If you are unable to participate during those times, the sessions will be online for the next 12 months.

Over 5,400 people have registered. To train attendees on the conference platform, NMAC will host a webinar on Thursday, 15th at 1 PM (eastern). Register here to attend. Most of the 2020 meeting will be recorded in advance because “going completely live” was beyond our current capacity. Workshops and institutes will have a “live” Q&A after the recorded presentations. We will also have networking opportunities with other participants via the exhibit hall, jobs fair, and lounges for many target communities.

The 2020 USCHA will include a Virtual Jobs Fair on Tuesday, October 20 at 2:00-3:00pm Eastern in the conference platform. Over 40 million people are unemployed. USCHA hopes to bring people needing jobs together with the HIV organizations who are hiring.

We encourage all organizations with open positions to participate in the event. It’s especially important to have the representation of the 57 jurisdictions targeted to receive this money so that they can share openings and take advantage of USCHA’s talent pool. This is the perfect opportunity to hire people from the communities your efforts hope to reach, particularly people in senior leadership positions.

Organizations will have a mini booth that will allow them to list job announcements and directly engage and chat with potential applicants. If you have open positions, please register here. This is a free opportunity.

Thanks to Gilead, NMAC was able to give away 120 iPads and access to the internet to help select constituents attend the 2020 meeting. As always, we had many more requests than we could fund. In advance of the letters going out, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the demographics of who received these awards.

Geographic Distribution of Recipients
Of those who were awarded iPads, 55% made less than $15,000 per year, and 36% made between $15,000 to $29,999. Seventy-three percent (73%) of the recipients also identified being unemployed.
Almost three-quarters (74%) of the recipients are people living with HIV while 20% were HIV negative and 6% were on PrEP. In terms of age, 40% were over the age of 50, 28% between 31-40 years old, and 19% were 30 or under.
Regarding gender identity, 43% were cisgender male, 33% were cisgender female, 8% were MTF/transgender women, 4% were two-spirit, 4% were genderqueer, 3% were non-binary and 2% were FTM/transgender men. Most of the recipients identify as heterosexual (36%) while  31% identify as gay. Also, 8% identified as bisexual, 7% as queer, 6% as pansexual, 4% as same-gender loving, 2% as lesbian and 1% as asexual.

A plurality of the recipients (49%) were African American while 23% were Latinx, 13% were White, 3% were American Indian/Alaska Native, 2% were Asian, 1% were Afro-Caribbean and 6% identified their race/ethnicity as “other.”

NMAC’s level of transparency is a mandate from community. It is also an example for health departments and federal agencies to follow when building plans to end the HIV epidemic. Community and transparency are core to successful plans. Letters of acceptance or rejection should be received by Monday, October 12th. Please do not contact the office about your request until after USCHA. Staff is crazy busy putting together the meeting.

USCHA is in less than two weeks. Honestly, we are running a little crazy. Since this is our first virtual meeting and there are over 5,400 registrations, I need your patience and understanding. Staff is doing an amazing job, but we don’t know what we don’t know. Like too many in our movement, we’ve had to pivot to new approaches without fully understanding all of the consequences. I’m not trying to make excuses for NMAC, I am trying to build understanding and compassion for all of us. It is not just NMAC who has to pivot, the world is pivoting and we’re all going a little crazy. Just saying…

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata 
NMAC

Fighting For Our Lives

Over 5,000 people have registered for this year’s United States Conference on HIV/AIDS that will be virtual on October 19-21. Over the next three weeks, staff are busy working with volunteer presenters to record 85 workshops and institutes on Zoom. The exhibit hall is sold out. Yet it all feels a little unreal. While this is our 23rd year hosting the meeting, it is our first virtual conference. It is important for us to say that we don’t have any experience putting on virtual meetings. Like so many nonprofits, we’ve had to pivot into uncharted territory. Thank you for going on this journey with us. We appreciate your understanding and patience.

Like too many of you, we are doing our best to figure out new ways to educate and inspire during COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, economic downturn, massive unemployment, wild fires, hurricanes, Supreme Court, taxes, and a Presidential election. There are so many things that are outside of our control. It is easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed. That’s why this year’s meeting is so important. It is an opportunity to check-in with our HIV family virtually. While it won’t be the same as an in-person meeting, it is the best we can offer while keeping everyone safe.

This year’s meeting will focus on the intersection of HIV, Black Lives Matter, massive unemployment, COVID, and how HIV nonprofits can survive in a world that is out of control. I will never fully understand what it means to be Black in America. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t stand in support of Black Lives Matter and commit my life to fighting for racial justice and health equity. NMAC believes these fights are the pathways to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States.

CDC Funding
Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTo help HIV nonprofits work to end the epidemic and survive these difficult times, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released the new RFA (PS21-2102) for directly funded CBOs. CDC will award $210 million to support 90 awards. Applications are due Nov 20th, 2020. NMAC is very excited and committed to this initiative’s success. We are hopeful that CDC will fund organizations from and for the communities hardest hit by HIV. Sixty (60) CDC staff have registered to attend this year’s USCHA, so hopefully this will be a good opportunity to network with your CDC colleagues.

HRSA Training

Thursday, October 1, at 1:00 PM is NMAC’s webinar on how to get a federal job. This webinar will be led by the Health Resources and Services Administration. Register here. NMAC is pushing jobs because so many people are hurting right now. Not only do we want to get people from the communities hardest hit by HIV hired at health departments and CBOs, we also want to have them to get jobs at federal agencies working to end the HIV epidemic.NMAC believes that hiring community is the best way to reach community. Previous efforts have missed too many people in need. We are very thankful to Dr. Laura Cheever and her staff for putting together this important webinar. We encourage everyone looking for a job to attend this webinar.

 

iPads
We received over 250 applications for our iPad program to help address the digital divide. Our goal is to have the iPads in the mail by Oct 9th. NMAC will go public with the decisions on October 13th. So many of the applicants talked about how they were unemployed as a result of COVID-19. Unfortunately, there is much more need than money. In full transparency, NMAC will share the demographics of who got selected and tell the stories of some of the recipients in my October 13th e-newsletter.

The Denver Principles were all about the empowerment of People Living with AIDS. Thirty-seven years later these principles still ring true, only now we have COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, climate change, ICE, massive unemployment, and economic devastation. Now more than ever, we are fighting for our lives and the lives of the people we love. We will see you online.

Yours in the struggle,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Are You Doing?

Last Friday was tough, another in a long list of difficult days in 2020. How are you doing? There are times when all of it feels overwhelming and I worry about our future. I never met Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but I know my life is better because she was here. She fought for everyone to be full and equal citizens, regardless of our gender, gender identity, race, HIV status, or who we loved. Remember her legacy and continue the fight for equality.

Over 5,000 people have registered for the 2020 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS. This year’s meeting will have four plenaries, 85 workshops & institutes, an exhibit hall, and a jobs fair. NMAC made it free because we understand that too many are hurting right now. Here are some upcoming deadlines:

Webinar with Congresswomen Barbara Lee
Thursday, September 24th at 1:00 PM (Eastern)
Register Here
NMAC is pleased to have Congresswomen Barbara Lee as our webinar guest on Sep 24th. She will be interviewed by Joe Huang-Racalto, NMAC’s Director of Government Relations. Join us and ask a question.

 

Bridging the Digital Divide
Deadline this Friday, September 25th
Submit Here
Thanks to our sponsors at Gilead, NMAC will give iPads and internet access to 100 constituents. We need your help to identify people living with HIV, staff working on the front lines, and people on PrEP who could most benefit from this equipment. People awarded iPads are expected to participate in all three days of USCHA. One hundred percent of the funding from Gilead will be used on purchasing and shipping equipment.

Photo or Video for USCHA
Deadline Friday, September 25th
Upload Photo Here
Upload Video Here
Be a part of our USCHA Family Reunion 2 by submitting photos and/or videos that will be featured in our “Unity Quilt.” This tapestry will feature the faces of our family across the country. As NMAC leads with race, we are asking that you to hold high one fist in the air in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. You can find the specs for photos and video on our blog.

How to Get A Federal Job
Thursday, October 1st at 1:00 PM (Eastern)
Register Here
Dr. Laura Cheever and staff from HRSA/HAB will discuss the process to get a federal job. NMAC is working to educate the communities hardest hit by HIV on how to apply for HIV positions at various federal agencies. The federal HIV workforce should reflect the communities that the Ending the HIV Epidemic efforts hope to reach.

Introduction to the USCHA Conference Platform
Thursday, Oct 15th at 1:00 PM (Eastern)
Register Here
NMAC staff will demonstrate the conference platform in advance of the 2020 meeting. To help attendees get the most out of this year’s meeting, we wanted to train about the technology in advance of the meeting.

2020 Virtual USCHA
Oct 19-21
Register Here
While USCHA is free, you must register in advance. Please be sure to attend the webinar on the conference platform. Virtual meetings are new for most of us and it helps to be trained on the technology prior to using it.

Everything can feel overwhelming and confusing. It’s hard to know what matters. During these difficult times, remember your HIV family is here to support and help. There is no shame is asking for help.

 

Yours in the struggle,


Paul Kawata  with Salt ‘N Pepa circa 1994

Addressing the Digital Divide – Deadline September 25

COVID has magnified the digital divide in America and NMAC wants to help. Thanks to our sponsor Gilead, NMAC is giving away 100 Apple iPads and Verizon internet hotspots with three months of internet access. While this year’s United States Conference on HIV/AIDS is virtual and free for community, there are many without access to needed technology to participate. This effort prioritizes people without access, especially people living with HIV, people working on the frontlines of the epidemic and people on PrEP to give them access to the virtual USCHA on October 19-21. The application form is here.

There is a very short turn-around time. Online applications are due September 25. Like USCHA scholarships, there will probably be many more applications than iPads. Unfortunately, most people will be turned down. Here are the 2020 priorities:

  • Priority is given to people without access to technology, and
  • NMAC uses a racial justice lens to make decisions.

There is an inherent contradiction of using technology to ask people without access to technology to go online and apply for support. We need your help to identify qualified staff, clients, or other people in the HIV community who need hardware and access to the internet. Can you help them apply? NMAC needs your help to identify people in need.

Submissions will be reviewed by NMAC’s Constituent Advisory Panels. Decisions will be based on need and not an individual’s value to the movement. People who receive iPads are required to attend all three days of USCHA and to fully participate as a member of the community.

Thank you for your help to identify people who could benefit from this program. The hardware will be mailed the week of October 12. A webinar will be held on October 15 to train USCHA attendees on the conference’s platform. Questions should be addressed to Kim Ferrell and not the conference staff. Conference staff is busy working to make this a great meeting. However, it is important to understand that virtual will never fully replace meeting in person. Close to 5,000 people have registered. The 2020 meeting will have four plenaries, 85 workshops and institutes, and our HIV family. During these difficult and challenging times, it is the family reunion I need and miss right now. Thank you Gilead for your support. We will get together again…

Yours in the struggle,

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Important Election of Our Lives

Democrats and Republicans agree that November is the most important election of our life. The future of America is at stake because the parties have such different visions for our country. I don’t know about you, but the pressure of this election combined with COVID and the push and pull for racial justice has me stressed out and overwhelmed. I feel angry, depressed, confused, or some combination of these emotions. Yet I am one of the lucky ones because I still have a job and a safe place to live. While I don’t want to seem ungrateful, COVID fatigue seems to be winning and that has me scared.

Against the backdrop of the fall election, COVID-19 and massive unemployment, there is a call for racial justice and Black Lives Matter. This is the fight of NMAC’s life and mission. Our long and historic commitment to health equity and racial justice will play itself out starting this fall with employment. To NMAC, employment is racial justice. Our movement has hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding to end the HIV epidemic. This funding should translate into tens of thousands of new jobs. At a time when so many are unemployed, this funding can be a lifeline to communities who are hurting. It becomes an issue of racial justice because NMAC is calling on employers to hire the communities that are most impacted by HIV. Unfortunately, this means communities of color.

It is not enough to put out a statement supporting Black Lives Matter. Now our movement needs to turn that commitment into real jobs and leadership positions. That’s why this year’s United States Conference on HIV/AIDS will have a Jobs Fair and why we made the conference free for community. People are hurting and the conference is free so they can connect with the organizations and health departments that have jobs.

In Washington, September is usually the time when Congress comes back to work out the final details for the upcoming federal budget. This budget is critical to our movement’s ability to provide services for people living with HIV, reduce the transmission of HIV and to end the epidemic by 2030. As with most presidential election years, the 2021 federal budget will probably be a continuing resolution (CR) until after the election.

The pundits have already started the Washington chess game of “what happens if.” Zoom calls between national leaders talking about what happens if President Trump wins reelection. What happens if Joe Biden wins? One of my zoom calls is looking for ideal candidates to fill vacancies in a new administration, another is looking for strategies to deal with administration officials who get another term.

We are probably going to have a virtual inauguration. I’m not sure what that looks like, since it’s never happened. America is so divided that regardless of who wins, there will be protests and governing will be next to impossible. The 2021 inauguration happens as we hit the second peak of COVID-19 combined with the flu where some models have over 300,000 deaths.

The unknown in this calculation is a vaccine. While I am very hopeful, I believe the first iterations of the COVID-19 vaccine will only be partially effective. Is a partially effective vaccine enough to turn around the economic devastation that this virus has caused? Would you be willing to travel with a vaccine that is 50% effective? If not 50%, what is the percentage that would give you confidence and how long will it take to find that vaccine?

All of this is happening while wearing masks and staying six feet from friends and family. Is it any wonder why so many are angry, depressed, and confused and why people are taking to the street to protest? How do you survive? I feel fortunate to be part of the HIV community. We’ve seen loss, suffering, and pain and continued to fight. We’ve experienced stigma, discrimination, and outright hatred and flourished. Our ability to build and create new institutions to address the HIV epidemic is proof of our reliance and power. We are magnificent amazing humans who have survived and thrived in a world that hates us just because of the color of our skin, who we love, our gender or gender identity. Fuck you, COVID-19!

Yours in the struggle,

 

Jobs Are Racial Justice

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week announced the distribution of $109 million in new funding to the 57 jurisdictions that were prioritized for the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) efforts. Since their 2020 EHE budget was $140 million, that means $31 million stayed at the CDC. NMAC is calling for transparency for how CDC intends to use this money. While we have no reasons to be concerned, CDC has not always been transparent in how it spends its HIV funds.

Transparency is important because too many people don’t trust people in power, particularly people in government. Black Lives Matter is calling for a new accountability when spending the public’s money. If we are going to build an HIV movement that is committed to racial justice, then it starts with being transparent about the money. Money is power and we need to monitor how HIV funds are being spent.

We also need to get the money out the door because community is hurting. To my friends at the targeted health departments, please get the money to community as quickly as you can. I don’t need to tell you that people are hurting. This new money comes just as America is falling into an economic tsunami. These millions of dollars should translate into thousands of new jobs. With unemployment hovering at 10%, it matters.

Just as I requested that the CDC be transparent with the money they are keeping, I also think it is important for health departments to be transparent. While the vast majority are great, there are some health departments that keep too much of the money. After all these years fighting HIV, we know that community, particularly people living with HIV/AIDS, are core to the solution.

To all of the community-based organizations and health centers who are getting new funding to end the epidemic, whom you hire matters. NMAC hopes you will hire staff from the communities that are hardest hit by HIV. Black Lives Matter is a fight for racial justice and health equity. You can stand in solidarity with the struggle by hiring people from the struggle. Racism is real and our movement has the opportunity with these new jobs to change lives and to end the HIV epidemic.

Our staffs are watching, boards are concerned, donors want to know how we are responding to Black Lives Matter, and people living with HIV want us to do the right thing. While it’s not enough money, $109 million is a start. All of our jobs are to make sure the money is going to where it can have the largest impact in the communities hardest hit by HIV. We know how to end the HIV epidemic, but do we have the will power and the money to make it happen?

August 13th Webinar with Raniyah Copeland
Nearly 250 people have registered for our August 13th Webinar with Raniyah Copeland from the Black AIDS Institute. The webinar is at 1:00 PM (Eastern)/10 AM (Pacific). There is still time to register. My staff loves BAI. They are always going on about their cutting-edge programs. Rather than be threatened by this love affair, I thought it would be important to support staff and invite Raniyah to the August 13th webinar to talk about BAI’s special sauce. I’ve also asked her to talk about what the Black Lives Matter movement means to our efforts to end the HIV epidemic.

Yours in the struggle,