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Candace Y.A. Montague

D.C. HIV/AIDS Examiner


Dr. Pierre Vigilance, Demystified -- Part Two
August 1, 2012

Dr. Pierre Vigilance came to the the District in 1988 to study health in medical school. In 2008, he was chosen to run the Department of Health. There was plenty of buzz about his lack of action on health issues and much speculation about a tumultuous relationship with the director of the Department of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Dr. Shannon Hader (click here to read her interview). Dr. Vigilance, 42, admits that there were disagreements along the way but he harbors no ill feelings about anyone or any of the experiences during his tenure. He is now a visiting professor for public health practice at George Washington University.

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Dr. Pierre Vigilance, Demystified -- Part One
August 1, 2012

I have wanted to interview Dr. Pierre Vigilance since he began his tenure as the head of the D.C. Department of Health in 2008. But there was this wall around him and each brick was a negative adjective about his character. He's a bully. He's pretentious. He's arrogant, aloof, apathetic and another "a" word that I'm not allowed to use on this site. Eventually, I moved on. But I finally got my chance to interview him a few weeks ago. I braced myself for an interview with the "big bad wolf" who might still be a tad bitter. However, the man who met me did not fit that description. I interviewed a man who was warm, relaxed, unabridged, and attentive (which is a nicer "a" word to describe him).

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Why Blacks in D.C. Need to Engage in More Civil Disobedience
July 26, 2012

We all know by now that the HIV infection rates among African-Americans in D.C. remain ridiculously high. And we know that the rates are so high they are actually on the same level as some sub-Saharan African countries. During the International AIDS Conference last week, I witnessed six brilliant examples of what the community can do with some planning and persistence. The March on Washington and The We Can End AIDS (WCEA) Mobilization, which included five marches converging into one, shut things down. But I noticed that there were many people who came to the march from out of town and they were not attending the conference. The question that came into my mind was, where are my D.C. people?

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A Moment With Dwight Eubanks at AIDS 2012
July 26, 2012

Dwight Eubanks, television star from the famous (or infamous for some people) reality show The Real Housewives of Atlanta, is in DC this week for a fashion show at the International AIDS Conference. The self-proclaimed style purveyor is the owner of the Purple Door Salon in Atlanta and is known for his quick wit and forthright commentary on everything from fashion to lifestyles. He's a diva if I've ever seen one. As he prepared for his show at the Carnegie Library with Sheryl Lee Ralph, Dwight shared some 'reality' on what it's going to take to get the HIV rates down.

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A Moment With Ms. Michelle the Quilter at AIDS 2012
July 24, 2012

Inside the AIDS Quilt -- making tent on the National Mall, there's a quiet spirited African-American woman with an amazing creative side. You can tell from the first few sentences she softly utters that she is a mother. And a caring one at that. She peacefully works on a quilt for a fallen angel from Chicago who loved shopping and music. I asked her if she thought of the idea for this quilt square. She humbly replied "his spirit told me what to do here". Her name is Ms. Michelle and she hails from Seattle. Her son works on Capitol Hill with one of the members of Congress. She came at his request to lend a hand and maybe some of her matronly love to the quilt. She expressed her dismay that out of 54 miles of quilt squares, only one half a mile is dedicated to African Americans.

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A Moment With One Bad Pirate at AIDS 2012
July 24, 2012

At the AIDS Quilt Ceremony on Tuesday, a muscular, tattooed man quietly pushed a wheelchair with a thin, red-haired woman in it close to the stage. They slipped into the small crowd and focused squarely on the stage. As the names were being read, this tough-looking man -- whom many would assume was a biker at first blush -- began to weep. He struggled to maintain his composure, but broke down several times throughout the ceremony. I spoke with him and the woman he was escorting later on. His name was Bob Bowers, also known as One Tough Pirate. It turns out he's an activist for youth with HIV. He was infected at age 19 from sharing needles with his girlfriend. Now he speaks up and out for people like himself who are living with HIV. He and his wife traveled here from Madison, Wisconsin to be at this ceremony. I asked him who he was crying for specifically. He gave me an earful of a story.

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We Can End AIDS -- A Look Back in Photos
July 24, 2012

They were beyond ready from the time they stepped onto the corners of the streets of downtown D.C. They were Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Gay, Straight, Transgender, Young, Seasoned, HIV Positive, HIV Negative, Broken and Healed. Armed with not much more than some signs, bells, whistles and brave hearts, the We Can End AIDS mobilization made it's mark on the 19th International AIDS Conference. Their demands were concise.

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AIDS 2012 Update: President Obama's Absence Is Not a Cause for Outrage
July 20, 2012

The White House announced that President Obama will not be in attendance at the International AIDS Conference next week. Instead he will send a video message. Some critics say that this is a bad move on his part. The chance to meet and greet hundreds of foreign dignitaries and leading researchers at a conference about a disease that is affecting millions around the world is a prime opportunity. This kind of move can be viewed as bad politics. However, this Examiner would like to point out a few important details that show that President Obama is not exactly ignoring AIDS like one would assume because of this absence.

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AIDS 2012 Update: We Can End AIDS March and Rally
July 18, 2012

The second march of this conference will be the We Can End AIDS mobilization. On Tuesday, July 24th, not one but five separate marches will occur simultaneously and converge onto Lafayette Park in front of the White House. The theme is "Occupy the Roots of HIV". Organizers are calling for policy makers to use the resources and tools available to end the epidemic, not treat it. Fliers for the march describe the mobilization in this manner "We will take the streets exposing the flow of money that funds harmful policies and legislators. Powerful, non-violent, and creative activities will lead all the issue focused actions to a major convergence and action at the power center where the White House, Treasury Department and the National Chamber of Commerce sit at the intersection of the barriers to ending AIDS."

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AIDS 2012 Update: Keep the Promise March on Washington
July 18, 2012

Well it wouldn't be an International AIDS Conference without a protest. This time around it's one city with two AIDS Marches. The first of the two is the 'Keep the Promise' march and rally sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation. On Sunday, July 22nd at 12 noon, participants from nations across the globe will join in on the grounds of the Washington Monument to remind world leaders that the AIDS epidemic is still a major public health threat and must be stopped. Special guests will include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rev. Al Sharpton, Tavis Smiley, Andrew Young, Wyclef Jean, Margaret Cho, and Dr. Cornell West. The rally will precede the opening of the International AIDS Conference that is set to begin on Monday, July 23rd.

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Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague has been learning about HIV since 1988 (and she has the certificates from the American Red Cross to prove it). Health is a high priority to Candace because she believes that nothing can come of your life if you're not healthy enough to enjoy it. One of her two master's degrees is in Community Health Promotion and Education. Candace was inspired to act against HIV after seeing a documentary in 2008 about African-American women and HIV. She knew that writing was the best way for her to make a difference and help inform others. Candace is a native Washingtonian and covers HIV news all around D.C. She has covered fundraisers, motorcycle rides, town hall meetings, house balls, Capitol Hill press conferences, election campaigns and protests for The DC Examiner.com and emPower News Magazine.

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