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10 Black HIV/AIDS Advocates Who Are Making a Difference

April 2, 2012

Ten Black HIV/AIDS Advocates Who Are Making a Difference

As HIV/AIDS continues to affect black people more than any other ethnic group in the U.S. and around the world, we have seen some amazing advocates rise out of this troubling epidemic. To honor that work, we want to highlight some amazing leaders whose tireless work continues to inspire us all.

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Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson, Program Assistant/Certified Peer Educator, The Afiya Center, Dallas, Diagnosed in 1999

In 2011, Michelle Anderson achieved a great feat: Not only was she crowned Miss Plus America, but she became the first woman living with HIV/AIDS to do so. The title is a far cry from where her life was almost a decade ago, when she was addicted to drugs and learned of her status in a treatment facility in 1999.

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Christine Campbell

Christine Campbell, Vice President of National Advocacy and Organizing, Housing Works, New York

Christine Campbell has spent more than 10 years dedicated to running programs for people living with HIV/AIDS. At Housing Works, she teams with other national organizations to advocate for changes in policy that will better serve people living with HIV/AIDS. With no signs of slowing down, Christine is galvanizing support for relifting the ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs. She also helped launch AIDSVote 2012, a tool that educates political candidates and voters on which policies most impact the HIV community. No matter what the initiative, Christine looks to include housing as a means to improve health outcomes of those living with HIV: "Any successful strategy to end AIDS will include housing." And as AIDS 2012 gets closer, she is working with President Obama's administration to update plans on implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Her overall message is to speak up: "I have found that in this current climate, our friends need to hear from us not only in their offices but also publicly. My hope for advocacy is that many of us will be bold and public in our call for an end to AIDS."

Michael T. Everett

Michael T. Everett, Team Leader of the Capacity Building Assistance Program, Harm Reduction Coalition, New York

"Harm reduction" is a way of dealing with risky behavior to lessen the potential damage done to the individual and the surrounding community. Yet there are so many misconceptions about what harm reduction means, and who it can serve. Most times it's believed to be solely about drug use, which can play into why some communities reject the notion immediately.

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Angela L. Green

Angela L. Green, Executive Director, Iris Center, San Francisco

During her 2009 speech at the National Equality March in Washington, D.C., AIDS activist Angela Green said, "You can pass out all the condoms and literature in the world, but unless a person feels whole, unless we love and care for ourselves, unless we see ourselves as viable human beings, the numbers [of HIV cases] will keep rising."

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Keith Green

Keith Green, Director of Federal Affairs, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Chicago, Diagnosed in 1994

Keith Green, diagnosed at age 17, is an established spoken word artist, community journalist, educator, activist and advocate, among many other things. A frequent contributor to TheBody.com, Keith currently leads advocacy efforts at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, monitoring and making sure the government implements the National HIV/AIDS Strategy promptly and effectively.

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Brook Kelly

Brook Kelly, HIV Human Rights Attorney, WORLD, New York

When this Georgetown Law graduate and former Ford Foundation Policy Fellow isn't in her Harlem office, she is traveling around the U.S. raising awareness for a range of issues that impact women living with HIV/AIDS.

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Kali Lindsey

Kali Lindsey, Director of Legislative and Public Affairs, National Minority AIDS Council, Washington, D.C., Diagnosed in 2003

Kali Lindsey, diagnosed at 23, is one of the busiest and hardest working HIV advocates today. In addition to being co-chair of numerous committees, his work at the National Minority AIDS Council includes working with national and regional partners to influence health care reform that will provide better access to care for people, especially black MSM.

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Notisha Massaquoi

Notisha Massaquoi, Executive Director, Women's Health in Women's Hands, Toronto

When is a health center not just a health center? When it puts social justice at the center of wellness. Women's Health in Women's Hands (WHIWH), headed by author and social worker Notisha Massaquoi, is just such an organization. Dedicated to serving black women and women of color in the Toronto area -- and home to the only support group for HIV-positive black women in Ontario -- WHIWH doesn't just provide primary care, mental health and HIV/AIDS services and health promotion activities. It's been involved in numerous participatory research projects designed to gather scientific knowledge on the populations it serves, as well as facilitate meetings with policymakers, service providers and community members.

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Kimberly Y. Smith

Kimberly Y. Smith, Associate Professor of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Whatever the aspect of the HIV epidemic that's in need of further exploration, you can bet that Kimberly Smith will take it upon herself to seek answers -- whether the question concerns perceptions of risk, HIV treatment in women or a host of other topics on which she's spoken and co-authored studies. She's part of a cadre of clinician/researchers (Drs. David Malebranche and Errol Fields also come to mind) that are not only keeping the HIV research community's eye on the true drivers of the epidemic, but also broadening collective understanding of HIV/AIDS among communities most affected.

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Patrick Wilson

Patrick Wilson, Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York

With HIV rates among young black MSM on the rise, Patrick Wilson's research focusing on HIV risk, prevention and sexuality is invaluable. Throughout the years, he has explored a range of topics including how sexual abuse, poverty, social networking and discrimination collide with HIV prevention.

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