The HIV 50+ Strong and Healthy Program offers support and engagement opportunities for those HIV-positive and over the age of 50 who struggle with isolation and the need to overcome depression. The HIV 50+ program allows them to reinvent themselves and become active and productive individuals in the community. The program is composed of 51 individuals who either work with or are HIV positive and over the age of 50 years old. The program consists of educational webinars, mini-grant and internship opportunities, sponsorships to conferences and involvement at the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA).
Congratulations to this year’s scholars! Since we have 51 Scholars, we will recognize them in two parts.
Nancy Duncan is 61 years old and has been living and aging with HIV for 34 years now. She is very grateful to have made it through the difficult years before the anti-viral medications that came out in the mid-nineties because at that time, she didn’t think she was going to make it! She has been blessed to be able to see her son grow to up to become an amazing adult. She currently has some health issues but is thriving pretty well now and has been doing HIV testing and counseling and peer work for many years. Living with HIV has given her the chance to meet so many wonderful and inspiring people over the years and she looks forward to many more years of good health and happiness to come!
Nancy Shearer is a Filipina woman diagnosed with HIV in March 1997. Ever since she was diagnosed, she has dedicated herself to advocating for the rights of HIV+ individuals. She was also a grantee of a mini grant where she hosted a Social event for heterosexual men and women focusing on connecting with their peers facing the same challenges.
Nikki Calma aka Tita Aida, is a familiar name to the Bay Area communities for the past twenty years. She is a tireless and proud transgender community leader in the Asian & Pacific islander LGBTQI community and the transgender community. She is currently the Director of HIV Services and Community Programs at San Francisco Community Health Center (formerly API Wellness).
Patricia (Pat) Kelly is a native New Yorker who currently resides in Orangeburg, SC. She is aging gracefully and gratefully soon to be 65 years young and surviving and thriving 34 yrs. She was diagnosed with HIV in 1985 and AIDS in 1998. She is the mother of three, grandmother of eight and great grandmother of seven. Pat is also the founder of A Family Affair HIV and AIDS Ministry of Victory Tabernacle Deliverance Temple. She serves on several boards and is actively involved in the HIV arena locally and nationally.
Porchia Dees is from San Bernardino, CA. She currently serves in the Los Angeles area as a Prevention Specialist for an organization called AIDS Project Los Angeles. She was born HIV positive in 1986 and has been thriving with this condition for 32 years strong now. Helping others and giving back to her community is her passion. Public speaking and advocating for HIV/AIDS has become her calling, and has been working on trying to become better at speaking out, educating, and articulating her experience with the world.
Randal Lucero has held the position of Board Member with several well-known national HIV organizations, where he has worked for over 12 years advocating for individuals and communities affected by HIV. Volunteerism has always been in the forefront of his professional experiences. As the founder of the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services HIV Advocacy Network and the State Consumer Representative to the NMDOH HIV Services Clinical Quality Management Committee he has made an extensive impact within the rural Southwest HIV community. Randal describes himself as a person living with HIV who strives to learn as much as possible and translate the knowledge into lay terms for others to understand the complexities of living with HIV.
Reggie Dunbar II is the Founder and CEO of Poz Military Veterans USA Intl. He served in the US Army Vietnam Era Veteran where he served in the JAG (legal) Core. He serves as the second vice chair of the Metropolitan Atlanta HIV Health Planning Services, a community advisory board member of Emory Clinical Trials and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.
Rob Ingwerson lives in Beaverton, Oregon with his partner of 24 years. He currently is working at Cascade AIDS Project as an HIV Peer Support Specialist. Rob also does HIV testing for all at the main offices as well as testing in different community events. He is involved with AIDS Walk every year. Rob is very excited to attend this year’s USCA as a representative for the Aging HIV community.
Rob Cooke has been living in Washington, D.C. for 20 years, from the Norfolk VA area. He is thankful and blessed that he has been healthy undetectable for 21 years. He is presently apart of the Washington DC Regional Planning Commission on Health and HIV, working with the Community Engagement and Education Committee and the Community Advisory Board with Unity Health Clinics in the District. He is also actively involved with CNHED, Communities for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development with “Housing For All” Campaign, LEDC, Latino Economic Development Center for Tenant Rights, and Manna Inc.(nonprofit housing assistance) board of directors.
Robert Cornelius is the financial coordinator at Cempa Community Care, which provides primary and infectious disease care, mental health counseling, health maintenance, peer navigation and more for people living with and affected by HIV located in Chattanooga Tn. When not crunching numbers for the organization, he spends his time spreading awareness about the virus. Robert is currently working on programs for long-term survivors who are 50 and older, including planning for retirement—a milestone many in his community thought they might never reach. Over the past 20 years, his advocacy work has impacted the lives of people living with HIV from all walks of life and of all ages.
Rob Pompa, LCSW currently serves as Behavioral Health Specialist in a hospital based HIV clinic and is an advocate and activist for PLHIV. Rob currently serves on the Pennsylvania Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Program Advisory Council, the State of Pennsylvania HIV Divisions’ HIV Planning Group and as co-chair for assessment committee, the AIDSNET Coalition Regional MSM Prevention Planning Group, as well as a member of the Consumer Advisory Board for CDC’s Division of HIV Prevention Behavioral and Clinical Surveillance Branch Medical Monitoring Project. Rob is thrilled and grateful to be a member of the NMAC HIV 50+ Strong and Healthy cohort.
Robert Riester is a Denver native and 30+ year HIV long-term survivor, and HIV/AIDS Activist and Advocate, both locally and nationally, and pleased to be part of the NMAC 50+ Strong & Healthy program family. He is currently a Program Coordinator for the Denver Element at Mile High Behavioral Health Care, including the Positive Impact program with a focus on HIV and Aging and Ryan White services administration, and works collaboratively with other HIV/AIDS organizations. Robert is currently serving on his third term with the Denver HIV Resources Planning Council and first appointed term to the Denver Commission on Aging, bringing the voice of HIV & Aging to the table.
Shirl Kirskey was born and raised in the Washington, DC area. She is an Administrative Assistant by trade. She moved to Jacksonville, Florida over 30 years ago working at a local hospital for 14 years when she was diagnosed. She is 56 years old and has been positive for 25 years. She is a mother of three daughters.
Stephen Addona is a long-term AIDS survivor, certified peer specialist and founder of RE-START, Central Florida’s largest HIV support group. The focal point of Stephen’s work is HIV and Aging. His primary goal is to set the standard in how to mature well while living with the virus. “It’s an art,” he says, “I sculpt both my body and mind daily, through use of my personal wellness plan. Exercise, nutrition, abstinence from tobacco and substance use, and continuously challenging the mind are critical in maintaining quality of life.”
Steven Vargas, Program Coordinator with AAMA (Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans) began helping people living with HIV in 1989, has been living with HIV since 1995, and was recognized as one of Poz Magazine’s “100 Long Term Survivors” in its annual “Top 100” December 2015 issue. Steven is a board member of Houston’s OH Project which preserves the experiences of Houstonians impacted by HIV, and is serving a four year term as a Community Member representative to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. He has been the recipient of the 2016 L. Joel Martinez Memorial Award from Legacy Community Health and last year received the 2018 HIV Community Activist Award from Houston’s African American State of Emergency Task Force.
Sylvester Askins was diagnosed in June 1990 in Washington, DC. He currently lives in Portsmouth, VA and works as a Consultant. In this role he assists other persons living with HIV to re-enter the workforce and begin their journey to “Endependence.”
Thomas J. Villa is a member of and longtime advocate for the LGBT community, an accomplished leader and successful business executive. He has thirty years of success building and leading new teams and new businesses, primarily in healthcare and community engagement, most recently as co-founder of Impacto LGBT to serve the LGBT Latinx community of Northern Virginia. As a long-time survivor of HIV, Tom is a member of the Community Advisory Board to the BELIEVE HIV Cure Initiative, the NIH Precision Medicine InitiativeTM pilot group, and participates in various clinical trials focused on ending the HIV epidemic. Tom continues his lifelong participation in community service with a special focus on promoting health equity and civil rights.
Timothy Lunceford-Stevens has worked at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in the Education Department in 1983 working on Prevention. He joined ACTUPNY in the founding year 1987. He is currently on a citywide LTS AIDS Service Planning Council, working to make sure LTS are not left alone in New York. With his SAGE membership, he worked last year to make sure the LTS nationwide were able to stay connected with Equality Bill.
Todd Dickey is the HIV Services Manager at The Gay & Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada, a.k.a. The Center. He has been in the Las Vegas Valley since 1976 and has been HIV positive for 28 years. Living with HIV can be a challenge for most, adding in stigma and fear can often times add in a layer of complexity that can be overwhelming for some. He has the honor of connecting with people living with HIV on a daily basis and sharing with them his experience with HIV and letting them know that they are not alone.
Mr. Trevor D. Bradley is 50 plus and has been in passionately involved in HIV prevention and education since 1998. He helped co-found Brothers United, an HIV prevention, education and advocacy agency in Indianapolis. Trevor became the first person to hold the position of HIV Prevention Program Manager for Communities of Color at the Indiana State Department of Health. He has been an MSM Advisory member for the CDC, lecturer, trainer and advocate for Communities of Color for over 20 years. Trevor is involved with several civic and non profit organizations, but has a fondness and place in his heart for real HIV prevention.
William H. Chastang has been a HIV Consumer Advocate since Feb. 2005. He believes his quest will not end until there is a cure. He encourages all who have an HIV diagnosis to “Live in the moment” because we are not victims but survivors.
William Hall is a Tlingit Indian from Southeast Alaska and has been living with HIV/AIDS for 33 years. He is a community advocate for the Native American Community in Seattle. He is also co-chair of the Seattle Planning Council and has volunteered with defeatHIV, a CAB to Fred Hutch Cure Research for AIDS for five years now.
Zeke Garcia is a community health worker and health educator risk reduction specialist. He regards himself as conduit of hope; a custodian of culture living the HIV + dream for the past 20 years. He is devoted to a life of healing, empowering and connecting.
Nadine Ruff, MSW, is an LGBT activist and the founder of Divinely You, a support group for transgender people based in New Haven, CT. She works for APNH, a non-profit organization in New Haven, as the Program Coordinator of Aging Positively, an evidence-based intervention for people living with HIV who are age 50 and older. As a social worker, Nadine uses her clinical and community organizing to strengthen vulnerable communities.