Hodgins thinks that one young voice is not enough. “Testing empowered me,” she says. “It can empower other young people [living with HIV]…we need to get together so our voices can be heard.”
—Antigone Hodgins Dempsey, Your daughter’s voice , Mother Jones Nov/Dec 1993
The quote above was from an interview that I did at age 25, three years after my HIV diagnosis. It is as true today as it was then. I was fortunate to find peers living with HIV to help me get through that difficult time in my life and support my development as a leader. The voices and leadership of people living with HIV have influenced and supported their peers from the earliest days of the epidemic. They stood up and demanded services that were responsive to their needs and to the realities of the experiences they lived. The leadership of people living with HIV has profoundly influenced the planning of HIV prevention and care services on the national, state, and local levels.
The needs of people living with HIV have continued to evolve over time, and it is essential that the diverse perspectives and experiences of people living with HIV continue to be an integral part of program planning and implementation at all levels. To ensure that people living with HIV are engaged and their voices continue to be heard, the Department of Health and Human Services has directed $2.5 million from the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund to support a new initiative to provide leadership training for people of color living with HIV.
The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau is leading this effort and recently published a Funding Opportunity Announcement, Leadership Training for People of Color Living with HIV. This three-year program will support the development and delivery of training programs for people of color living with HIV of all ages (e.g., Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander) to enable full, active, and engaged participation on planning bodies, medical and support care teams, boards of directors, and other mobilization efforts. To support increased engagement of Transgender women of color living with HIV in leadership opportunities, this project will support national leadership training specifically for this community.
HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau will partner with the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy to launch Leadership Training for People of Color Living with HIV, to support addressing the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020 (NHAS 2020) and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. Personally, I am proud to be a part of the continued leadership development of my peers and colleagues.
Applications are due July 8, 2016. The full announcement is available here.