Many of you know over the last 18 months, the Black AIDS Institute (BAI) has engaged in a significant sector transformation. We have strengthened our Board, recruited new ambassadors, revamped our website, reformatted the Black AIDS Weekly, completed a 5-year strategic plan, announced a new strategic direction in preparation for a new generation of HIV/AIDS response in Black communities with an emphasis on direct services in Los Angeles, strengthened our team of highly skilled young professionals passionate about ending the HIV epidemic in Black communities, and our Board of Directors and a search committee are engaged in a national search to identify the next President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute.
Thus far, 2018 has been very busy. BAI has opened three clinics in South Los Angeles County in partnership with St. John’s Well Child and Family Center. In February, we opened a Black Prevention Clinic, and in April we opened both a comprehensive Men’s Clinic and a Women and Well-Child Clinic. The next few months promise to be extremely busy, as well. June is Pride month, with celebrations happening all over the world and opportunities to remind the LGBTQ community, in particular, that the AIDS epidemic is not over and we must continue to be vigilant. In July, BAI will attend the 2018 Essence Festival for the 15th year in a row. Also during July we hope to attend the 22nd International AIDS Conference, taking place in Amsterdam.
While all of this is happening, we are engaging in a deep dive into our communications strategies so that we respond to the lived experiences of Black people in ways that are both effective and that reflect the times in which we live. For instance, we’ve beefed up our social media presence and invite you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter if you aren’t already.
However, as we engage in communications planning, we will be taking a hiatus from the Black AIDS Weekly as you currently know it. This announcement does not mean that the Black AIDS Weekly is permanently going away. Indeed, we promise to communicate with you about the myriad of activities, issues and developments occurring in the HIV/AIDS space. We will continue to issue BAI Statements as necessary. We also hope to report from the International AIDS Conference. But for now, our communications through the Black AIDS Weekly will change in ways that we are still determining.
So this is the final issue of the Black AIDS Weekly before we take our break. As usual, the issue is packed with stories that reflect the complexities of fighting HIV in a very complicated world. You will learn more about the new research published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes about why women living with HIV are significantly more likely to experience heart disease than men, though males who are living with HIV are also at elevated risk.
Kaiser Health News reports on the increasing numbers of Americans relying upon medical marijuana to treat pain and other ailments who are finding themselves trapped between conflicting state and federal laws. Complicating matters, HHS Secretary Alex Azar recently pronounced that there was “no such thing as medical marijuana.” What should medical marijuana users do?
Our friends at HIV.gov update us on a training opportunity to help us reach and effectively serve the needs of Black men who have sex with men and transgender people. Kaiser also reports on how President Trump and the Republicans are continuing their assault on health care in general and women’s health in particular by proposing new rules that, if enacted, would have drastic impact upon women seeking family planning services—and particularly upon Planned Parenthood.
Finally, we want to join our friends at Colorlines to celebrate journalist and advocate Janet Mock, who recently joined the crew of the FX series “Pose” as a writer, director and producer. Premiering on June 3rd, “Pose” follows two concurrent developments in late-’80s Manhattan: the ball culture, primarily developed and celebrated by LGBTQ people of color, and new forms of ostentatious wealth, as epitomized by now-President Donald Trump.
There are moments in time that demand that we show up and stand up and require that we bring our best and prepared selves to the battle. This is such a time. As always, the Black AIDS Institute is committed to making sure that Black people are never left behind and that our voices are always heard. Until the next time, please take care of yourself and your blessings.
Yours in the struggle,