Nothing about us without us!
We are an all-volunteer, nonprofit direct action HIV advocacy and activism organization that seeks to impact the lives of those living with HIV or AIDS, as well as affected communities. We're a mixed group of people living with HIV or AIDS, in addition to our allies.
We formed in early summer 2016 to fight a back-door deal that was held in secret for over a year. It threatened to defund two ASO (AIDS Service Organizations) in our area that together serve twelve rural counties of northcentral and northeast Pennsylvania. We protested in the state capitol building, wrote extensive letter and email campaigns (including letters to the editors of nine regional newspapers), met with legislators, etc. Thanks to legislators throwing their weight behind the cause, as well as many volunteers who gave their time and talents, this despicable backdoor deal was called off, and both long-standing agencies are continuing to faithfully serve their clients and communities as they always have.
Now that that particular crisis is over, we're moving forward with many aspects of our mission statement. One item, in particular, stands out: "We research and distribute the latest medical information." To that end, we're starting to get involved in education and prevention presentations with Q&A sessions. There have been several medical advances made in the HIV field. Our presentations address those as well as stigma, discrimination, what it's like to be living with HIV in rural locales, etc.
Intersectionality of several issues is also on our radar. We're partnering with Recovery Community Connection, a recovery community organization (RCO - a state designation), due to shared goals. They are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit recovery advocacy organization that also hosts various alternative support groups, including secular ones. Issues pertaining to LGBTQ, HIV, HCV (Hepatitis-C Virus), addiction, recovery, education, healthcare, poverty, criminal justice, and more intersect and feed off each other; in some cases creating a feedback loop, a vicious cycle. Teamwork on all levels will be necessary to make any real-world gains in these vital areas.