New HIV Network is Pozitively Healthy
In an effort to advocate for access to quality health care and treatment, a national coalition of people living with HIV/AIDS and their allies have formed Pozitively Healthy, a network to ensure the strong independent voice of the 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
"It has never been more important than now to have a national voice for People Living With HIV/AIDS," said founding co-chair David Waggoner, founder and publisher of A&U, America's AIDS Magazine. "To give full expression to the multitude of voices connected to the HIV/AIDS community, a truly national and inclusive organization like Pozitively Healthy can broadcast the greatest possible response to the medical and social needs facing all men, women, and children living with HIV.
In addition to Waggoner, the NSC is led by Judi Billings, former Board Chair of the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), with the help of former NAPWA CEO Frank Oldham, Jr. Billings said that just because NAPWA no longer exists, that does not mean the voices of people with AIDS should be silenced.
"My devotion and determination are to ensure that the Denver Principles remain the cornerstone for the PLWHA Movement going forward," said Billings. "As the Denver Principles stated in 1983 when NAPWA was founded: 'We condemn attempts to label us as 'victims', a term which implies defeat, and we are only occasionally 'patients' a term which implies passivity, helplessness and dependence upon the care of others. We are 'People With AIDS.' The Denver Principles clearly acknowledge the vital partnership between a person living with HIV/AIDS and their physicians and healthcare providers. This is why I know our partnership with HealthHIV will provide us with even greater knowledge and skills to meet the challenges we face in this new era of AIDS."
The group will remain informed by the National AIDS Strategy, the Affordable Care Act, and the Centers for Disease Control and the Health Resources and Services Administration's Prevention with Positives efforts. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Pozitively Healthy coalition will develop and drive an advocacy and education agenda to address issues impacting PLWHAs, with special attention to African-American MSM, women, and transgender populations.
In an effort to start things on the right foot, HealthHIV has fielded a survey for people living with HIV/AIDS to share their opinions and perspectives on the changing healthcare delivery landscape and its impact on HIV care. The survey seeks to gain the perspective of the positive community and will inform the advocacy and education efforts of Pozitively Healthy. The group will also host numerous consumer advocacy and education events, including those for National HIV Testing Day activities on June 27.
"While we have had significant successes, people living with HIV/AIDS must continue to be meaningfully involved in the decisions that impact their lives. As advocates, we must create a space to amplify our voices," said Deloris Dockrey, Director of Community Organizing for Hyacinth AIDS Foundation.
Pozitively Healthy’s National Steering Committee Founding Members include such notable names as Dockrey, scientist Robert Caldwell, PozMatch Founder Donny Johnson, OASIS Executive Director Butch McKay, HealthHIV Training and Workforce Manager Julio J. Fonseca, NAMES Project President and CEO Julie Rhoad and HealthHIV Executive Director Brian Hujdich.
"HealthHIV is fully committed to the strong, independent voice of all People Living with HIV/AIDS," said Hujdich. "This PLWHA coalition marks the beginning of a new era for HIV advocacy. For too long, voices concerned about HIV have lacked strong coordination. We need combined talents during this time of decreasing resources -- yet increasing numbers of people living with HIV."
"Pozitively Healthy says it in its name: that all Americans living with HIV can and will enjoy better healthcare and find a greater strength in a shared and unified voice," said Waggoner. "That voice is Pozitively Healthy."
To join the Coalition, please go to the Pozitively Healthy section of www.healthhiv.org.