On Dec. 15, 2016, TheBody.com hosted a Twitter chat on Taking Action for HIV Justice in the Trump Era, moderated by our contributing editor Olivia Ford.
We sought to empower and educate ourselves, our readers and our Twitter followers to be ready for a political climate that could be more hostile towards people with HIV and their communities, and that could lead to the reversal health care advances that have affected the HIV epidemic in the United States and worldwide.
As TheBody.com managing editor said in his recent article "Activist Basics for Fighting for HIV Justice in the Trump Era", "Regardless of where we sit or where we toss and turn during these long nights since the United States presidential election, many of us are wondering what we can do to take care of ourselves and each other, and how we can even hold our gains in the HIV epidemic, much less prevent the loss of significant ground."
A group of seasoned HIV professionals and activists came together to share information with those getting started, as well as those sustaining efforts, in the fight for HIV justice in light of the incoming Trump administration, exploring just what that fight means today.
Participants hailed from the TheBody.com, Treatment Action Group (TAG), Positive Women's Network USA (PWN-USA), The Counter Narrative Project, MO Syringe Access for Everyone, Criminal Justice Ministry, HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA), Health GAP and more.
Plugging in and Making Decisions
The chat kicked off with a discussion on finding and plugging into existing organizations and initiatives, broadening understanding of political issues and targets and making focused, tactical decisions about what specific aspect of HIV activism could best be served by each person's passion, skills and experience.
The ideas put forth ranged from individual efforts to gain knowledge and critical thinking to joining or starting action groups, to refocusing work in response to potential threats under a Trump presidency:
Many of the participants talked about the importance of intersectional thinking at a time when many different vulnerable groups could potentially be affected by future legislation and budget decisions at the state, national and global levels.
We explored ways to dig deeper into minority group stigma, the importance of being aware of privilege when collaborating with groups and the need to speak up to make sure our concerns are heard:
Staying Focused in Difficult Times
It's very easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the uphill battles the HIV community seems to face or the more general challenge of coping with a constant onslaught of difficult and sometimes shocking news in the media. Our panelists and participants had some well-earned insight on how to choose an issue to focus on and how to stay focused in difficult times.
Recognizing Trauma Is Revolutionary
We also came together to talk about the reality of trauma and burnout on the personal and community level. The act of recognizing the trauma that HIV advocates and people with HIV live with and endure can itself be revolutionary. Seeking community and holding space for the grief of others and our own are crucial components of real communal care and well-being.
The Trump presidency will -- most probably -- take effect in the U.S. in less than two weeks, and a whirlwind of cabinet appointments and approvals, policy changes and announcements will affect us on many levels. This chat is just the beginning of ongoing correspondence and features at TheBody.com that will keep you up to date on these changes and help you evolve and take your power into the coming fights. Read the best of the chat and watch this space to learn more about resources for activism, upcoming events and initiatives and political watchdog analysis to build our strong, resilient community as a force for change in the coming weeks, months and years.