Eleventh Annual National BlackHIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Eleventh Annual National Black<br />HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Aids Alliance

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February 11, 2011

Eleventh Annual National Black
HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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AIDS Alliance Embraces a “Village Approach” to Ending HIV/AIDS


Today (February 7, 2011) marks the Eleventh Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. In keeping this year’s theme “it takes a village to end AIDS” we have compiled testimonials of a few of the African American consumers who have participated in two of AIDS Alliance’s programs. Through their engagement and leadership and by setting examples of living openly, positively and productively with HIV, they work every day to prevent new infections, advocate for care and combat stigma in the African American community.

They have participated in one of our core programs. Our newest is the Advanced Skills for Consumer Education and National Development (ASCEND) Leadership Program, designed to reduce the number of HIV positive people who are not receiving HIV primary medical care. Our landmark Consumer Leadership Corps Trainers Program (CLCTP) is currently in its tenth year of advancing community education and leadership. Both are funded through cooperative agreements through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s HIV/AIDS Bureau.

These programs have produced a vast network of leaders in the HIV/AIDS field that has evolved into a sustained village of trainers, clinicians, social workers, peer advocates and outreach workers who are living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Mentorship, skills-building and programs that educate African American families and individuals have transformed what was once a fatal diagnosis into an opportunity to grow and positively impact our communities, especially African-American ones, that have been and continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. The more than 350 AIDS Alliance trainers have reached over 35,000 community members nationwide since 2000. These trainers are the AIDS Alliance village that has been galvanized to end HIV/AIDS by combining their commitment to give back to their communities in order to foster HIV prevention and linkage to care.


Please read our consumer’s powerful and uplifting stories about positively living with HIV/AIDS by clicking on their names:

AIDS Alliance is proud of the leadership these trainers have modeled in their communities and how they exemplify the core values of leadership. The stories of this sampling of our village represent the passion to give of themselves as well as to impact community access to education related to HIV and other topics. Their words characterize the level of commitment and responsibility from African American men and women living and thriving with AIDS.

As a collective community, AIDS Alliance encourages you to actively engage yourself and your community in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Remember we can:

  • Decide to prevent HIV/AIDS in our families and neighborhoods by getting educated about HIV: www.aids.gov
  • Get tested and follow up with care when we are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS: www.hivtest.org/ 
  • Submit an abstract for Voices 2011 (DUE: February 14, 2011; For more information: /education/voices
  • Become an AIDS Alliance Member: /join.html
  • Read and share our fact sheet: “HIV/AIDS Trends in Communities of Color: African-Americans” /resources/fact-sheets/hivaidsafricanamericans2009.pdf
  • Support HIV/AIDS Vaccine Research: http://www.bethegeneration.nih.gov/
    • Tell others HIV vaccine research does not transmit HIV and that each trial brings us closer to a vaccine
    • Inform people of the importance of an HIV vaccine and the need for people from diverse backgrounds to participate in HIV vaccine trials
    • Show your support for vaccine trial volunteers and/or become a vaccine trial volunteer yourself
  • Choose health for ourselves and our future generations

Over the next year AIDS Alliance will bring you the highlights of many of our village members and the great work they are doing untiringly both locally and nationally to ensure awareness and education comes to every home in this national village.


Antoinette Sinclair graduated in the first Consumer Leadership Corps Trainers Program for women only in 2006: “Since graduating from the AIDS Alliance Consumer Leadership Corps Trainers Program, I began going to shelters, treatment centers, churches and speaking about living positively with HIV/AIDS and how my strength and experience has impacted my life.  Before my participation in the leadership program, I would not have given a public presentation and now I can speak it and tell it and give my all for any audience, anywhere.   Today I continue to tell my story and use the skills learned to educate my community by sitting on consumer advisory boards, mentoring other women and men through local support groups in Atlanta, Georgia.” 

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Arthur (Art) Jackson, 2010 ASCEND participant, shares the commitment and typifies the recent graduates from the ASCEND Training in North Carolina: “I’m amazed that 21 years ago in January, I was diagnosed with HIV and given 3 months to live.   I’m more amazed that I have not been sick since diagnoses and take nothing for granted.  More than anything, I have received the unique opportunity to attend the ASCEND program which has increased my own skills to help consumers and to provide HIV/AIDS education to the communities of Fayetteville, North Carolina.  ASCEND has given me another tool to reach and help the community, as a whole.”


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Charles Willis, CLCTP Class of 2006, exemplifies the launching point that AIDS Alliance programs provide for African American people living with AIDS to assume the activists role on the national scene.  The Georgia native confirms that, “The Corps Leadership Training prepared me to actively engage the communities of Atlanta at risk for HIV/AIDS.  It prompted me to become a consultant in the AIDS and Mental Health communities, and to do presentations on prevention and treatment.”  “Completing the training empowered me to advocate at the State Legislative Level and among our Congress Persons.  I have since received training and certification to administer the Waived Rapid HIV Test (RHTI) which was sponsored by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) and the Center for Technical Assistance Research and Support through Maya Tech Corporation.   The Leadership skills learned at the Corps Leadership Training Program led to Board of Directors Membership for AIDS Survival Project, Board Member for Mental Health America of Georgia, Board Member of United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA) of Georgia,  CAB Membership with Positive Impact, Council Member of the Mental Health Planning and Advisory Board, and a Member of the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAMI) Advisory Council.”  For many African Americans HIV has been our entry to primary health care including mental health services and when the advocates, like me (Charles) look like the people we want to reach, it matters. 


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Donella (Dee Dee) Richardson, an ASCEND Leadership Training participant is a 40 year old African American survivor of HIV for over 20 years.  “I am a strong advocate in my community.  I am currently working at the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network as the Prevention Access/Outreach Coordinator. I’m also linked to AIDS Alliance with the ASCEND program to go out in the community to address the barriers to individuals who know their HIV status but are not in HIV/AIDS primary medical care. The program educates persons living with HIV/AIDS and the entire community. Additionally the program educates the community by teaching how to talk positive about HIV/AIDS in the community. I am empowered by being able to teach others to access services and to be able to positively talk to my community about how to address stigma that keeps many people in my community away from the needed health care to maintain their lives. I love what I do and have a passion for it. I’m a fulltime student getting a double degree in Social Work and Community Health. Still Standing! Even with HIV!”


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Ebony Johnson, Consumer Leadership Corps Trainers Program Class of 2002 characterizes the diversity of skills and the self-empowerment of disclosure that we seek to share to our often marginalized communities.  The cultural need for African Americans to access care becomes the focus for most of our trainers.  Ebony’s analogy is poetic and representative of the education home that AIDS Alliance provides long after our program completion.  “The AIDS Alliance Consumer Leadership trainings provided more than any combination of solely academic experiences could have afforded me”.  It was a nest in which I was able to be nurtured and supported around HIV disclosure, training, public speaking and a diverse range of topics that are central to advocacy and quality of life for people living with HIV. “When I left that nest I was able to take the tools that AIDS Alliance had shared with me and take flight. The journey has been rich. Much like geese, I never flew alone. AIDS Alliance has given me a flock of peers and colleagues with whom I can share ideas, receive support, fly down with when my wings were injured and to people to mentor me personally and professionally.”  The investment that AIDS Alliance makes is nurtured and continued in relationships that grow.  Ebony confirms that, “Almost a decade later, I still find a home in the nest of AIDS Alliance.  I continue to take flight as a facilitator, moderator, trainer and advocate locally, nationally and globally.” 


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Helen Zimba, CLCTP Class of 2002 is a case manager from Texas and recipient of AIDS Alliance’s Gigi Nicks Award:  “Going through the training changed how I looked at things.  Even though I had been to support groups, it was nothing like going through the corps leadership training.  My HIV disclosure is a huge result for many trainers. I was able to talk about my diagnosis and to talk with more confidence. I had to not just look at myself but I was gaining education and advocacy skills to do more for others in my community.  As a case manager for a community based organization, I learned more about leadership skills at the corps leadership program than in my case management training. My abilities to make presentations before any community or conference group are due to my Corps Leadership Training.  Additionally, in May of 2010 I was appointed to the Board of Directors for AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families.”


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Lynn T. Kidd-Freeman, CLCTP Class of 2004: “AIDS Alliance Consumer Leadership Corps Trainers Program lives with me”. Since 1997 I have been speaking about living with HIV and providing STD Prevention Education in Ohio.  Participating in the Consumer Leadership Corps Training Program has enhanced my skills but more importantly assisted me in giving back to my community as well as renewed my commitment.  Since my involvement in the Consumer Leadership Corps Program I continue to facilitate workshops both locally and nationally.  My ongoing learning then allowed me to participate in the HIV Vaccine Education Initiative.  AIDS Alliance has helped me in projecting the urgency of continued HIV/AIDS awareness.  I am a part of a group that not only believes in what we do but provides camaraderie and the skills to advocate for myself and assist others in doing the same.  Over the years I have also participated in media appearances and conducted a workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa.  I continue to be actively involved in my community by being on several advisory boards.  Participating in all of these endeavors gives me hope that one day the rates of HIV will be reduced or more importantly a cure will be found.  My mission is to help reduce the rate of HIV infection among all people by being visible and living to break the silence.”


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Peter Byrd, CLCTP Class of 2001:  “I arrived at the Corps Leadership Training thinking that my speaking engagements, membership on planning boards were sufficient knowledge to be a leader in my community”. Therefore I went into the training thinking that I knew most of what I needed to know.  I left knowing that my life would be spent increasing my knowledge and skills to reach as many African Americans living with, or at risk for infection with HIV. We also learned from the trainers and have emulated them in their personal and professional integrity as well as their commitment and generosity of spirit. Since the program I have been able to use my skills learned to advance my life professionally as a sought out speaker and consultant for private and federal programs nationally on topics that impact the health and wellness of persons affected by this life changing disease. I could never have done this before this program.”


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Penny DeNoble, CLCTP Class of 2009 says, “The way that participating in the program has impacted me personally is that it has re-energized me.  I have been positive for almost 25 years and live in Denver Colorado.  As an African American woman, there are minimal opportunities to get engaged in services.  The Leadership Corps Trainers Program regenerated, revived and jumpstarted me.  I took on that charge of leadership and mentoring and support for women who do not yet experience 100 % disclosure of their HIV status. Through the training I now see myself as a bridge-builder in this often territorial arena.  My service to the community is not work.  It’s a ministry. It’s a way of life!! The generations coming should know that we are responsible for addressing this crisis in church, the media and all leaders.  I will no longer allow any other organizations or missions to get in the way of saving lives of my community and people who look like me and to speak for women who haven’t found their voices, yet.”


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Peter McLoyd, CLCTP Class of 2004 and member of AIDS Alliance’s Board of Directors: “We have been and continue to be transformed as leaders as we support each other and ourselves and reach hundreds and thousands of communities of color. “I attended the National Corps Leadership Program which taught me the importance of leadership and trained me to take the skills back to my community in Chicago, Illinois. The leadership training program was the catalyst for me becoming a more effective advocate for myself and for people living with HIV/AIDS and their affected family members.   Following the training I became actively involved with the Ryan White Chicago Area HIV Services Planning Council and the statewide Illinois HIV Prevention Planning Group.  The skills that I learned from the leadership training quickly led me to leadership roles in both of those planning bodies.  Since then I have not only become a more effective advocate for my community and myself, but on a national scale I have become a member of the Board of Directors of AIDS Alliance and the Urban Coalition of HIV AIDS Prevention service.  Additionally, I am in my 7th year as a staff consultant that has provided technical assistance for triply diagnosed consumers for more than 35 substance abuse, mental health, and AIDS service providers.  I bring AIDS Alliance Corps values with me.” 


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