My Journey with PrEP

Terrell ParkerTerrell Parker
Associate Program Manager

A few days ago, I started primary care with a new doctor. I recently relocated back to Indianapolis now that my job is virtual. When my doctor walked into the room, she asked me about the blood pressure medication I take, and then she asked…… “so I see you want to be prescribed PrEP, tell me about that?”

Me: “Well, I’m gay. I have receptive anal sex, and I sometimes don’t use condoms. This puts me at high risk for HIV, so I take PrEP.”

Doctor: “Okay, great.” (trying to mask her shock and surprise).

Me: “Have you ever prescribed PrEP?”

Doctor: “No, this is my first time.”

Me: “Well, you want to do an HIV test on me, full STI screening, check my kidneys, and…”

Doctor: Laughs.. “Thanks, but I asked a colleague and he walked me through the process already…”

Me: “Great, if other people in your practice need some education, I can refer you to a PrEP providers training program.”

The rest of the conversation went pretty well. I walked out of the doctor’s office with an order for PrEP called into the pharmacy less than a mile from my home. A few years ago, this was not my reality. As I drove home, I couldn’t help but reflect on how far I’ve come. I couldn’t help but recall the days before I had quality health insurance, before I had a car to easily make it to appointments, and before I had the education to advocate for myself.

My journey towards PrEP has been long. I first learned about PrEP attending an HIV prevention conference in 2014. Five years later, I finally began PrEP in November of 2019. Before coming to NMAC, I was a young professional just starting in the HIV workforce. Like many beginning professionals, I worked for a low salary and no health insurance benefits.

After learning about PrEP, I made it my mission to increase awareness in my local community.
I began educating anyone who would listen. I held community talks, focus groups, launched a PrEP campaign, and helped develop internal processes/external partnerships to increase PrEP referrals and navigation for young, Black gay/bisexual men and transgender women.

Even as I worked to increase PrEP access in my community, I faced the reality that PrEP was not accessible to me. No health insurance meant no PrEP. I knew, however, when I did have access to insurance, I was going to start PrEP—period. I just needed to hold on to my negative HIV status long enough to get a prescription.

PreP gives us the power to transform our narratives and rewrite history as Black gay men. Many of us have heard the CDC projection, “½ of Black gay, bisexual men will contract HIV within their lifetime” if current trends in HIV acquisition continue. PrEP is a powerful tool we MUST use to change this trajectory. We will only change this, however, if everyone who wants PrEP has the access, resources, and support to sustain PrEP uptake.

PrEP has been revolutionary for me. I think back to 2011, being madly in love with someone, and having that person tell me they could no longer be with me because they feared transmitting HIV to me. Fast forward 10 years, and I have proudly and openly dated people living with HIV with no fear of HIV transmission. PrEP gives us the power to take control and finally enjoy a health sex life free of fear and shame. I have never enjoyed sex and intimacy as much as I have since starting PrEP.

In honor of Black HIV Awareness Day, we must ensure everyone can be a part of the revolution. My experience today is still not the experience of most Black gay men I talk to who want to access PrEP like my friend, who told me this weekend his primary care doctor first refused to prescribe him PrEP and later tried to dissuade him due to him not “being a good fit” for PrEP. Thankfully, he did not listen. He persisted and now has an appointment to being PrEP this week.

We must ensure everyone has access to adequate health insurance and informed care providers.

Putting PLWH First in Line for COVID Vaccine

The COVID vaccine roll-out is another gift from the Trump administration. They punted to states to implement vaccine roll-outs not understanding or caring that states were already overwhelmed managing COVID testing, healthcare, and deaths. NMAC is particularly concerned about access to the vaccine for people living with HIV. We have already heard reports of PLWH who were turned away from getting the vaccine because they were immune compromised, stories of PLWH who were told that taking antiviral meds was contraindicated for the COVID vaccine. Like so many in this country, people don’t know whom to trust.

Talking with a federal colleague, I was told that “people with HIV should be in the 1c vaccine category, if not 1a or 1b for another reason.” Unfortunately, the state by state roll out currently underway has resulted in different policies and timelines. As a result, NMAC made an appeal to the CDC asking them for clarification. Our movement needs to push to ensure PLWH are classified as 1a so they can have immediate access to the vaccine. This is particularly important because PLWH are aging and too many suffer from age advancement due to meds. There are also too many PLWH who are still immune compromised and need to move to the front of the line.

The Need for National Leadership

For the next two years, local health departments will continue to be overwhelmed by COVID and their roles in managing this disease. As we have seen, you can’t just leave it to states. Ending COVID or ending HIV takes national leadership. The federal government can’t just tell states it’s their responsibility to figure out how to get the vaccine into arms or to put together a plan to end the HIV epidemic in their region. Both movements are crying out for national leaders who tell the truth and who will stand with community on the frontlines of both epidemics.

COVID has shown us what happens when you don’t have the national leadership needed to guide the country through a terrible moment in history. Why should HIV be any different? There are too many people who are afraid to get the COVID vaccine. There are too many people who don’t trust PrEP. Our goal has to be about more than getting drugs into people. It’s also about understanding the systemic barriers that keep people from living their best life. As we have learned from Ready Set PrEP, just because the drug is free does not mean people will take it. While cost is always a factor, there are many other variables that must also be addressed. Ending the COVID or HIV epidemics is not only about meds. Until we understand and address the complex human challenges of race, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, we will fail in our efforts to get herd immunity for COVID or the numbers needed for U=U and people on PrEP to end HIV.

It breaks my heart to think of the people I lost to HIV in 1994-96. The time right before protease inhibitors and combination therapy was the stuff of night terrors. Now that we have a COVID vaccine, we just need to hold on until it is our turn. Unfortunately, that may be months for most of us. I’m fighting to find the courage to stay alive. I need you to fight with me.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata

A Change is Gonna Come

A President’s Inauguration is usually a joyous moment of celebration, at least for the winning party. Because of COVID, unemployment, and the raid on Congress, there is little happiness or the mood to celebrate. I just want this inauguration to be over as quickly and safely as possible. There is lots of work to be accomplished.

The Biden’s administration number one priority has to be COVID and getting control of the pandemic while rapidly getting out the vaccine. If we’ve learned anything from this experience, we learned that we weren’t ready and too many people died because of it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a long way to go to repair its relationships, both internally and externally. I asked the Biden transition team focused on the CDC to make sure the new director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, addresses the toxic culture of racist aggressions outlined in a July 2020 New York Times article. NMAC supports their request that the director declare “racism a public health challenge.” Not only will that go a long way to heal internal issues, but it will also put the CDC in alignment with the Biden administration.

President Biden says racial justice will be a priority for his administration and NMAC says prove it by ending the HIV epidemic. How will this White House priority transform HIV services to align with this presidential priority? What is HHS, CDC, HRSA, HUD, SAMHSA, NIH, et al., doing to meet these new administration’s values? NMAC challenges all federal agencies to show how their HIV funding is addressing the President’s call for racial justice.

NMAC applauds President Biden’s nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine to his Assistant Secretary of Health. She will be the first out transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate. Federal offices with significant HIV funding should follow his lead by hiring people living with HIV, people of color, LGBTQ, and especially people of trans experience as federal employees. If Black Trans Lives Matter, then there should be Black Trans people in leadership positions at HHS, CDC, HRSA, HUD, SAMHSA, NIH et al. NMAC is concerned that too many federal offices with significant HIV funding have too few staff from the communities hardest hit by HIV. How can you build programs that reach community when community isn’t on your team? One of the unfortunate lessons from COVID, like HIV, is that, while the viruses don’t discriminate, the lack of healthcare and prevention infrastructure can kill you.

COVID has shown us that we must call out these inequities. We cannot stay silent and expect things to change. Because the Democrats control the White House and Congress, we have an opportunity to make real change. However, it’s only a two-year window. With Speaker Pelosi’s 2022 retirement, I worry for our future. We will never have another Speaker who will be as friendly to the HIV community as she was. Our community owes her a great debt of gratitude.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata

“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
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 

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 

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 

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.


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