Pernessa Seele: How a Long-Time, African-American HIV Activist Keeps Up the Fight
August 4, 2008
On Aug. 4, a panel of African-American HIV community leaders held an emotional press conference in which they expressed frustration and anger about the lack of attention being paid to the HIV epidemic among U.S. blacks. After the press conference, we caught up with Pernessa Seele, the CEO and founder of The Balm in Gilead, who was one of the speakers at the press conference. (You can also click here to read or hear Seele's emotional speech during the press conference.)
I'm sustained by two things. First, I'm sustained by my ancestral, traditional connection to people like Harriet Tubman. When I think about Harriet every day, and what she did to save black folks, I am sustained, and get up and do it again the next day.
The second way I'm sustained is by the numbers [of African Americans with HIV]. I am challenged. I am disgusted. I am frustrated that black folks are just missing in the equation. And somebody has to get up, no matter how tired, no matter how disgusted, no matter how frustrated; some of us have to get up every morning and do something about it.
If you could do one thing -- if you had absolute power -- to reverse the course of the HIV epidemic in the black community, what would you do?
The one thing I would do is, in the beginning, when AIDS hit, I would have the black church be at the forefront of calling forth a comprehensive plan of addressing HIV and AIDS, and not go into this stigma stuff.
Thank you so much.
This article was provided by TheBody. It is a part of the publication The XVII International AIDS Conference.
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