December 23, 2011
As an action-packed year for the HIV/AIDS community draws to a close, TheBody.com takes stock of 2011 in a new series of articles, "2011 HIV/AIDS Year in Review." Read the entire series here.
It was sometime in 2010 when I came to the attention of Olivia Ford, community manager for TheBody.com. I had been sending out press releases to every email that I could find in HIV/AIDS media. Olivia was the only person to respond to the news that an HIV-positive person was working toward a national HIV/AIDS mobilization campaign, Cycle for Freedom. You can't imagine the joy and excitement that I was feeling after sending well over 100 emails with no response.
Olivia and I emailed back and forth for a time but we could never really nail down a time to have a discussion about my activism. That all changed when Olivia made her way to the Brooklyn Marriott in January of 2011. It was the 2011 National African-American MSM Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS and Other Health Disparities, and I was graduating in the first class of the Health Executive Approaches to Leadership and Training in HIV (HEALTH) Program Leadership Shule created by Dr. Mark Colomb and the staff of My Brother's Keeper, Inc., Jackson, Mississippi. The year-long training was designed to enhance my knowledge, skills and abilities for assuming a leadership/management position in the field of health with particular focus on HIV.
It was at the meeting that Olivia and I decided that I would become the newest blogger on TheBody.com. I have enjoyed sharing whatever it is that I have to share. Blogging has freed me to express openly and honestly my thoughts and opinions not only on the topics requested by Olivia, but also on issues that I feel passionately about. I have been amazed at the reach blogging can have as I have received emails from as far away as Denmark. I have delighted in the fact that those emails have gone beyond just emailing to an exchange of telephone numbers to actually listen, discuss and share with those who have reached out on a more personal level. It has been through this forum that Cycle for Freedom has gained some attention and the opportunity to grow several new partnerships and collaborations for the New Year. For that I am honored to be a part of TheBody.com family.
Throughout this year I have worked on several other projects that I am excited to share with you now. Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens: Prayers, Poems & Affirmations for People Living With HIV/AIDS is complete and ready for publication. I have collected submissions from Samiya Bashir, Nikki Grimes, Reginald T. Jackson, Carl Hancock Rux, Storme Webber, Tim'm T. West, avery r. young, N. Alexander Smith and many other writers and activists from the U.S. The collection also has powerful contributions from South Africa, Nigeria, Italy and Spain in their indigenous language with the English translation.
With the New Year just around the corner I pray that each of you continue to feed yourself with the food that grows your spirit. May God continue to bless you without number and provide you all good things without end.
Khafre K. Abif, AIDS activist, has been thriving with HIV for 22 years and is a father of two teenage boys. Khafre is the Founder/Executive Director of Cycle for Freedom.
Read more of Freedom Rider, Khafre's blog, on TheBody.com.