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Black AIDS Institute sets course for new vision and partnerships

Freddie Allen NNPA Newswire | 2/8/2018, midnight

Board member David Munar, the president and CEO of the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago, says “almost every milestone in the fight against AIDS domestically, and in some cases internationally, has been paved by the Black AIDS Institute, and that’s a credit to the Institution and its many supporters and affiliates across the country.”

Codifying Wilson’s Vision

Wilson leaves the Institute well positioned to take on the challenges of future.

The organization is staffed by the next generation of HIV/AIDS activists and organizers, whose work embodies the Institute’s commitment to helping Black communities save themselves through their lived experience. “Every day is Black AIDS Awareness day at the Black AIDS Institute’” says Raniyah Copeland, the Institute’s Director of Programs. “Our staff are of the communities we serve. We are Black men and women. We are Black people living with HIV/AIDS or at high risk of infection. We live, work, pray and play in the communities we serve. We don’t need to do ‘outreach’ because we are there 24/7.”

Jesse Milan, president and CEO of AIDS United and chair emeritus of the Institute’s Board, notes that the Institute has also been developing programs to help end the epidemic through its Los Angeles-based direct service efforts. Yesterday was National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and the institute, in partnership with St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, a federally-qualified, community health center in Los Angeles, launched the first Black PrEP clinic in Los Angeles. Later this spring, the partnership will open a Black men’s primary care clinic in the Leimert Park area of L.A. A Black gay men’s drop-in center will launch in Compton during the fall. “The PrEP clinic, the men’s primary care clinic and the Black gay men’s drop-in center will help us achieve a new dimension of our mission,” Milan says.

“We are proud to build on Phill’s bold and unapologetic legacy through direct service, new policy, initiatives to address Black women and HIV, and other efforts that will codify Phill’s vision of ending AIDS,” says Copeland.

Rather than resting on past successes, the Black AIDS Institute is “going where the epidemic’s trajectory is calling it to go,” says Munar, who calls the new initiatives “excellent examples” of how the organization is transforming in ways that will allow it to thrive without Wilson at the helm. “It’s exactly what every community needs to be doing. BAI wants to do it first in its own backyard, then help others across the country replicate similar strategies.”

“We can’t achieve our goals in the HIV/AIDS epidemic nationally unless we work harder in the South to reduce new infections, bring more people into care and eliminate stigma and discrimination,” Milan added. “The statistics and reality in the South are dire, especially for African Americans and we must focus on them now.”

Freddie Allen is the editor-in-chief of the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Allen is also a frequent contributor to the Black AIDS Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @freddieallenjr.