It’s the last day of February which signals the end of Black history month. February is one of my favorite months of the year because everyone gets to revel in the beauty of our resiliency and the promise of our future. I’ve thought deeply about the history of BAI and where we want to go in the future. Today, the Black AIDS Institute has 20+ years as a national thought leader, capacity builder and mobilizer. But what we have been is not enough to get us to the end of the HIV epidemic.
My vision for the Black AIDS Institute of tomorrow is an organization that is deeply entrenched in the community, providing services at all points of the care continuum along with a well-respected research, policy, mobilization, and capacity building portfolio that is uniquely and unapologetically Black. To get to the BAI of tomorrow we are focusing on building internal infrastructure to ensure we epitomize Black excellence at every corner of our organization.
We must be able to document our impact and replicate our wins, we must have systems and structures in place to improve efficiencies, and we must recruit and retain the best of the best talent. As Black people we deserve stability, excellence, and power that is built by centering those most impacted by HIV. That’s the Black future we are building here at BAI.
In this last issue of Black AIDS Update during Black History Month, we feature the work of My Brother’s Keeper and Dr. June Gipson in Jackson, Mississippi. They are the epitome of Black excellence! Since 1999, the organization has evolved from 19 to 85 staff members with four PhDs, and four MDs. They have grown from one location to six.
Black women account for 60 percent of new HIV diagnoses among all women living in the United States. I spoke with Essence magazine about what Black women need to know about HIV in our present reality.
About 1.1 million Americans are at high risk for HIV and could benefit from PrEP, according to the CDC. Around half of those are black men and women, who have the highest HIV risk burden of any race. Our manager of health departments, Leisha McKinley Beach, spoke with NPR about PrEP outreach to Black women.
We will recap our BAI activities during National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) on February 7th including signing on to “Black Power on Black HIV Awareness Day” statement. It’s not too late for you to sign on and join us and others in efforts in the South.