Posts Tagged ‘Black women’

Bishop Long, AIDS and bad behavior

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Although, it’s almost a dead issue in terms of the media, the Bishop Eddie Long case, was and still is an important issue. As the pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, he was accused of allegedly using his position and power as well as his role as a father figure to pursue sexual relationships with younger men in his congregations. Beyond the spectacle of the scandal, there were several underlying issues that weren’t addressed in the media. For weeks, I read article after article following all the positions as the allegations played out on the radio and television. It’s well known that Bishop Long used his position to demonize homosexuality, the very thing he was being accused of. As stated by crunktastic in the article, The Evidence of Things Not Seen: Sex and Power in the Black Church, “What Long has been accused of doing isn’t about sex. It’s about power, as sexual abuse generally is.” He used role as a pastor to stigmatize and demoralize others, some who may be his own parishioners. Abusing his power as a religious leader and father figure. In a Clutch Magazine article, Zettler Clay writes, “A pastor is a pastor because enough people have been convinced that he/she has divine knowledge that eludes the majority of the congregation. When power is enforced under this criteria, potential for abuse and disillusionment is present. The scandals of malpractice, negligence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, you name it, has run rampant as long as these relationships have been around.”

Bishop Long is not the first religious figure to abuse his power and unfortunately won’t be the last. In all of the misfortune, accusations and confusion this case created, it also brought to surface some very serious issues long ignored by the Black Church. Issues around the role the church plays in promoting and encouraging homophobia, its lack of leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the role the clergy plays in the abuse of power.  Of course, the abuse of power doesn’t solely exist in the Black Church but it’s significant in terms of its connection to homophobia and HIV. For the first decade and a half, the Black church was absent or barely present in the fight against AIDS. In addition, as seen with the sermons of Bishop Long, the persecution of gays and homosexuality alienated many who went to church for the comfort and security they needed. If one was gay and HIV+, there was no place for you at your home church. A clear case of the disconnect between the church and the community at large. The Black Church is feeding the hungry, sending students to college and building affordable homes, but still alienating and ignoring members of its congregation. In the article, In the Wake of Eddie Long-What’s the State of the Black Church?, Davey Day says “We could go on and on listing examples of where Black churches have stepped up to walk the walk and back up the talk. With all that being said, those of us who are members of a church still have to grapple with the challenging questions before us; ‘Is there a disconnect between the Black church and its aforementioned good works and the community at large?’ If so how and why is that happening?”

How do we begin the process of healing and end the scapegoating. Well, despite the role the church has played in building a history of intolerance and fear. The actions and behavior of Bishop Long lies solely with him. We can’t just blame the Black church, it’s leadership, “Down Low” men or the Black media’s lack of response to the AIDS crisis. There is a responsibility that each and everyone of us must take. What the Bishop Long case should do, is encourage us all to evaluate ourselves and our role in encouraging bad behavior. As Davey D stated in the above mentioned article, “It should inspire us to do some serious self examination. This should be the case if you’re a member of a congregation and it should be the case for the entire body. Self examination should be a constant endeavor.”

In a speech to Essex County College on World AIDS Day 2010, former Congressional candidate and author Kevin Powell said, “We need to stop scapegoating each other. HIV and AIDS is not about “Down Low” men or any other person or group, its simple about bad behavior.

When Bishop Long allegedly used his influence, wealth and power to seduce those young men, it was less of an issue of a possible being gay man on the “Down Low” but a man who was behaving irresponsible. A man who was using his position to get and do what he wanted. When we encourage someone we love to not practice safe sex, that’s bad behavior. When we have sex with someone knowing that we are infected with a STD or HIV, that’s bad behavior. When we don’t use a condom, take regular HIV tests or talk to our partners about having a healthy sex life, that’s bad behavior.

We must move beyond the divide and conquer of blaming “Down Low” brothers for AIDS in our community or playing to people’s shame and insecurities so much that they are afraid to come out to their church community, forcing folks to hide who they are. The church must open its doors to those who are HIV+ by having safe spaces and providing needed services to those infected and affected by HIV. We must figure out how to talk about sex and sexual relationships in an open and honest way in the church. We can change the dynamics of the church, where we empower parishioners to play an active role in the improvement of their lives and sexual health.

As we move into a new year, we must consider the consequences of our individual bad behavior and lack of responsibility. And make a commitment to be more accountable to our loved ones and those who come to us for strength, understanding and compassion. With the added stress of joblessness, unemployment and underemployment, the lack of proper healthcare, limited affordable housing and the increase of foreclosures, we should at least be able to find comfort and honesty in those we trust the most. And if not, as individuals, we can no longer follow blindly. There are no more excuses not to question anyone or accept any behavior that we suspect is bad. We must standup for our own truth. And if someone is behaving badly against us, then we must have the courage and strength to move on and know we are okay for it. Bad behavior can no longer be acceptable or tolerated. Too many lives are at risk to think its okay to behave badly.

Hot Summer Sex, Hook Ups and Protecting Yourself Is Easy!!!

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

The summer is almost over and it’s been a hot one. Heat and sex seem to go hand in hand especially when it comes to causal sex. It’s easy to hookup with someone after an informal dinner, while at the club or at a friend’s BBQ. But, if you’re not careful, hooking up can be dangerous! Those who are hooking up or just having causal sex are more than likely sharing or overlapping sexual partners. In the article by Linda Villarosa, The Dark Side of Hookups, “Friends With Benefits” and F— Buddies, “These partnerships can speed the spread of sexually transmitted diseases,” Dr. Paik says. “With sequential partnerships, the disease has to wait before it can spread. Between relationships, for example, a bacterial infection can be treated. With overlapping relationships, the disease doesn’t have to wait.” When you are hooking up with several different partners and not practicing safe sex, you have a greater chance of becoming infected. It’s not always easy to remember to use a condom while in the heat of the moment.  Therefore, being prepared is crucial to protecting your sexual health. Carrying condoms, is not cocky, it’s smart! It’s better to have a condom and not use it if you don’t need it, then to be caught without one when you really need it. No longer can we make assumptions about a person’s status by just eyeballing them. The tell tale signs of someone being positive rarely exist now. You won’t know just by looking at someone or assuming that because he or she is cute then they couldn’t be infected.

One good way to protect yourself, is to always use a condom when having sex. A percentage of people who become infected usually got it by another person who didn’t know they were infected. Condom use can be one of the best ways to protect yourself. Knowing your own status is also important in not only protecting yourself, but protecting your sexual partner. As noted in the article, in regards to the high infection rates in D.C., “Nearly 50 percent of people surveyed in its hardest-hit areas reported having overlapping sexual partners in the last 12 months. Most were not aware of either their own HIV status or that of their partner, and the vast majority said that they did not use a condom the last time they had sex with their main partner, even though they were aware that the relationship might not be monogamous. This deadly mix explains why a Black woman, for example, who doesn’t “sleep around” might contract HIV, while someone else engaged in frequent episodes of unprotected sex might not become infected.” Taking a HIV test is now considered one of the best prevention methods against becoming infected. Assuming that one test positive then they can get treatment and learn how to care for themselves as well as prevent infecting someone else by not spreading the virus from one person to another. And, if they test negative, then they learn to stay negative through preventive measures and condom use.

Practicing safe sex is easier said than done. It’s no easier than staying off salt, not drinking too much or watching your weight when all your favorite foods are available. These are all things that we struggle with, but not taking the proper precautions can be dangerous and in some cases deadly. Its takes practice, a concerted effort and a commitment to be healthy, the same goes for your sexual health when you practice safe sex. Make it a habit like brushing your teeth, cleaning your house or watching your weight. Keep a condom on you for those special unexpected encounters. If you are having casual sex, make sure your sexual partner(s) gets tested. Get tested with them, if it will make them feel more comfortable and less stigmatized. If they are not willing to get tested or provide information on their status, they might not be the person you wanna have sex with. Its is also important for you to be tested and provide information on your own status. To find an HIV testing location in your area, visit

Whether it’s a holiday weekend, a hot Summer night or a beautiful Fall evening, always be prepared. High and low risk sex is all the same when it comes to HIV and STDs. Every time you have unprotected sex, you are at risk of getting infected.  It only takes one careless moment to change your life. Wrap it up and be safe.

The Black Church and AIDS

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Is it too late for the Black Church to be a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS???

Women, Girls & HIV: Why Stella Has To Watch How She Gets Her Groove On!

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

In addition to being Women’s History Month, March also hosted National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10th. Events were organized around the country by national and local community groups and AIDS organizations throughout the month. According to,” National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) is a nationwide initiative celebrated on March 10 every year to raise awareness of the increasing impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.” It also notes that, “Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States. More and more women have become infected with HIV since it was first reported in the early 1980s. Today, about 1 in 4 Americans living with HIV are women. It’s time for women to get tested.” In addition to the information above, the website also made it possible to view all events scheduled around the country, allowed one to send free e-cards and locate HIV/AIDS resources.

One would wonder why such a national event was important or necessary, well despite all the public awareness campaigns the infection rates of women, especially women of color, are still increasing. In 2005, women represented 26 percent of new AIDS diagnoses, compared to only 11 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 1990. Most women are infected with HIV through heterosexual contact and injection drug use. Women of color are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 34.

Until the infection rates of women drop significantly, all and every effort is necessary to send the message that women need to protect themselves and be tested. In my effort to stay aware, I attended a few events during the month. One was hosted by the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition in NYC at the New Lots Public Library in Brooklyn. I took away a lot of good information from this event. It was noted that we all must treat everybody that we encounter as someone who has something we can catch. And although, that seems harsh and even paranoid, think about the times you got sick from someone at work who had a cold or the flu and wouldn’t stay home and get better. The same happens in sexual relationships, people have unprotected sex knowingly or not that they are infected or have an STD and pass what they have on to you.  It certainly doesn’t mean treating someone like a leper, but what it does mean is that an once of prevention can make a big difference in how you live out the rest of your life. Being safe is much better than being sorry!!!

Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition HIV/AIDS awareness day event

Another point that was extremely significant was the importance of teaching young women how to be financial stable and independent. Young women need to develop marketable job skills, acquire work experience, learn how to write a resume and get a good education. It would seem like common sense for some but when young women are financially dependent on someone else they tend to compromise their themselves for money and security. Most young women who become infected are not from men of their own age but by much older men. If they are thrown out the house or desire material objects they become dependent and vulnerable to older men who take advantage of them. It’s not uncommon for a girl 14yrs old to be sexually involved with a man more than twice her age. Teaching young women critical thinking and survival skills increases their chance of becoming financially stable and less likely to be involved in a sexually abusive relationship.

Another event, “Women are not dolls, their lives are not to be played with,” was held on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall and hosted by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. The stairs leading to the entrance of Borough Hall was filled with dolls representing all ethnicities and races with notes on the stating who they were Several presenters including the NYC Comptroller John Liu and the President of GMHC, Marjorie Hill spoke.

Women are not dolls, their lives are not to be played with

"Women are not dolls, their lives are not to be played with"

The last event was Well & Aware: Women and Girls Taking Charge of their Lives, Responding and Reflecting on HIV/AIDS at the National Black Theater in Harlem. This event was sponsored by The Partnership for Family Health: Northern Manhattan HIV Consortium (PFFH), a program of Public Health Solutions and Harlem community partners such as Iris House, Harlem United Community AIDS Center, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS and Sister Link/Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership (NMPP), as well as other. Funding was received from the HHS/Office of Women’s Health. This was a huge event that offered everything from HIV testing, STI screening and Blood pressure screenings to massages, make overs and a safe sex workshop. All the community sponsors tabled the event and provided materials from their organizations along gifts and the usual safe sex kits. It was packed by what some of the organizers noted was the power of social networking. C.Viriginia Fields, President of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS provided the Keynote Address. Community Advocate and AIDS activist Michelle Lopez and Ingrid Floyd, Executive Director of the Iris House were also scheduled to speak. In my many years of attending workshops, panel discussions and community events this had one of the largest turnouts and was the most interactive. There was a lot to see, do and hear. And was happy to see folks into it.

I bring these events up and the importance of the National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day because it reminds us that we are still in a state of crisis and that we must stay vigilant outside of these national awareness days. When the women at the GMHC rally yelled, “Women are not dolls, our lives are nothing to play with,” they meant it. Now we all need to stop playing with our lives and get real about protecting it.

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Friday, March 12th, 2010

March 10, 2010 – National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
This month we are highlighting National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day! According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, Black women represent an alarming 65% of the total number of women currently living with HIV/AIDS in the US, and are 20 times more likely to acquire HIV than white women. NYC continues to lead the nation in the number of reported AIDS cases among 13-24 year olds.

Visit YWCHAC’s (Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition) website to see what we are doing in our community. Visit

What Can You Do?

  • Get tested for HIV.
  • To find a testing site center near you, text your ZIP Code to KNOW IT (566948).
  • Talk with your health care provider about your risks for HIV.

Get the facts about HIV/AIDS including:

  • The risk factors for acquiring HIV.
  • How to avoid high-risk behaviors.
  • How to practice safer methods to prevent HIV.

* Talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues.
* Invite friends to join the cause.
* Volunteer at a local organization that serves people living with HIV.
* Attend an event near you.
* Learn more about the impact of HIV/AIDS among women in the United States.
* Stand up against stigma, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
* Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations like YWCHAC.

Self Love Is The New Sexy – Knowing Your Status Is Power!

For more information, visit the following sites:

Upcoming Events

5th Annual Women As The Face of AIDS Summit

The 5th Annual Women As The Face of AIDS Summit is only 4 months away. This year’s event has been expanded to 2 days -Thursday, June 24 & Saturday, June 26 to coincide with National HIV Testing Day. It promises to be two wonderful days of informative sessions and exciting topics such as parenting while positive, the impact of incarceration on HIV rates, housing stability, mental health & treatment adherence, what the faith based communities are doing and much more. Saturday’s Community Awareness Day will include free health screenings and giveaways for members of the community. Once again the summit will take place at the New York Academy of Medicine. Please visit our website for updates or contact Kimberly Richardson at 646 548-0100 ext. 221 or for more details.


Iris House served over 1400 women in 2009; encouraging both women and girls to get tested. We conducted 2171 Rapid HIV test and distributed over a million condoms.

Iris House will recognize this important day by participating in an event sponsored by the Partnership for Family Health taking place at the National Black Theater located at 2031 5th Avenue (between 125th & 126th) on Friday, March 12th from 5pm -10pm. They will provide HIV testing, substance abuse and mental health screenings.

Sponsored in part by: NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn


On Tuesday, March 16, Iris House in collaboration with the Black Women’s Health Imperative is co-sponsoring a community forum exploring the link between heart disease and HIV. This event targeting HIV+ women will be held at the New York Academy of Medicine from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Speakers include Dr. Monica Sweeney of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Anna LeMon, MPH, of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, Shirley Alves, R.D., Director of Nutrition Services at Iris House and an afternoon breathing and relaxation demonstration by Terri Kennedy, motivational speaker. Lunch will be provided. If you would like more information or to RSVP contact Shirley Alves at 646-548-0100 *201.

To learn more about these events and future activities visit us at House, Inc.
2348 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10030
Tel: 646 548-01000
Fax: 646 548-0200

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Activities

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

February 7, 2010 marks the tenth annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). This is a national community mobilization, HIV testing, and treatment initiative, which promotes awareness of, and access to, services for African Americans. The theme for NBHAAD 2010 is “A Choice & A Lifestyle.”

Blacks are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. While making up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for more than 49 percent of AIDS cases. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 34, and the second leading cause of death for Black men ages 35 to 44.

Of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, HIV and AIDS have hit African Americans the hardest. The reasons are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather some of the barriers faced by many African Americans. These barriers can include poverty (being poor), sexually transmitted diseases, and stigma (negative attitudes, beliefs, and actions directed at people living with HIV/AIDS or directed at people who do things that might put them at risk for HIV).  HIV remains a persistent threat to the health, well-being, and human potential of many African American communities. As the impact of the epidemic among African Americans has grown, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health agencies, and African American communities have stepped up efforts to address the crisis.

NBHAAD is planned, organized and coordinated by the Strategic Leadership Council*, a working group of national organizations in partnership with CDC. NBHAAD activities focus on motivating individuals to get tested and know their HIV status, and educating community members about the importance of HIV prevention, early detection, and treatment.

CDC is highly committed to reducing the impact of HIV on African American communities. CDC believes that a collaborative response by many is necessary to decrease the burden of HIV/AIDS among African Americans.  Therefore, CDC and African American leaders from business, civil rights, entertainment, government, and the media are speaking out and taking action. With these partners, CDC is intensifying HIV prevention efforts in four areas: expanding the reach of comprehensive prevention programs; increasing opportunities for HIV testing and treatment; developing new, effective prevention strategies; and mobilizing broader community action.

It is necessary for African Americans to receive the information they need to protect their health and the health of their loved ones, and to get involved in their communities.  When people affected and infected by HIV take collective action against the spread of this disease, we form a very powerful weapon. Together we can prevent HIV/AIDS, one voice, one experience, one community at a time!

What Can You Do?

  • Learn About HIV/AIDS. Educate yourself, friends, and family about HIV/AIDS and what you can do to protect yourself.
  • Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO, visit, or, on your cell phone, text your zip code to Know IT (566948).
  • Speak Out against stigma, homophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
  • Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations that work within African American communities.
Events in Brooklyn

Friday, February 5th
National black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, United Community Baptist Church, 2701 Mermaid Ave, 11 A.M. – 4 P.M.. HIV Testing, Demonstrations, Resources and Information. For more information contact Shayoya Brown at 718-333-2067

Sunday, February 7th
Pre-Conference Evening of Praise and Awareness, LIU Brooklyn Campus, 1 University Plaza, Dekalb and Flatbush Ext, Brooklyn, 4:00 p.m. Testing, Outreach, and Prevention Initiative, For more information contact Watchful Eye TOP Initiative at 347-533-4300

Monday, February 8th
Brooklyn Commemorates National Black AIDS Awareness Day, Brooklyn College Student Center, 2901 Campus Road and East 27th Street, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.. Brooklyn Red Ribbon Campaign, Brooklyn HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan, “Brooklyn Knows” Roll Out. For more information and to register contact Dana Burnett at 718-773-3874 or

Friday, February 12th
Heart To Heart – Love Yourself, Love Your Family Family Resource Center, 100 Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd Floor, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Free HIV Testing and Health Screenings, Food Stamp Screenings, Financial Counseling and Advice, Free Income Tax Filing, Raffle Prizes and Refreshments. For more information contact Christopher Joseph, 212-645-344 ext 136

Saturday, February 13th
During the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, on Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 10:00 A.M., Senator John Sampson and Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns will host a workshop entitled “The Saga Continues: A Dialogue on HIV/AIDS and the Impact on Communities of Color.” The workshop will be facilitated by Watchful Eye Founder Dee Bailey. All Watchful Eye Community Partners and their clients/program participants are invited and encouraged to attend this event.” For more information, contact Gwen Carter 347-533-4300 or .

Wednesday, February 24th
“Age is No Barrier” to HIV/AIDS! Did you know that in New York State, 14 percent of AIDS cases are among individuals age 50 and over, and of all the people age 50 and over with AIDS, more than half are of African or Latino descent?

The Brooklyn Regional Committee of the AIDS Institute’s Faith Communities Project invites you to a community dialogue and fellowship to discuss and to learn “What Congregations need to know about HIV/AIDS and Older Adult.” Bishop Dr. R.C. Hugh Nelson, Senior Pastor of the Church of God of East Flatbush, will host the program on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at the church, located at 409 East 95th Street, between Whilmohr Street & Lenox Road from, 6:00 – 9:00 pm. Dinner will be provided. Please share the enclosed flyer and directions to the church with your colleagues and encourage them to attend.

Pre-registration is required to prepare materials and to confirm the food order. To register, please contact Ron Derway at 800-692-8528, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday – Friday. The registration deadline is February 22nd.

The Regional Planning Committee encourages you to join with the community in dialogue and learn what we can do to support older adults impacted by HIV/AIDS and to stop the spread of HIV. Please contact Carol Tyrell, Coordinator of the Faith Communities Project, at 518-473-2300, if you have any questions about the Project

Friday, February 26th,
FREE Youth Safer Sex Party – for Youth ages 15-24 years old
2010-02-26 6:00Pm-11:00pm
The Lab Nightclub
1428 Fulton Street Brooklyn, NY
Keep the Cold out and the HEAT in!
The HEAT Program, in conjunction with the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC) & FACES is sponsoring a Safer Sex Party for all youth ages 15-24 on Friday, February 26, 2010 from 6-11 pm at
The Lab Nightclub
1428 Fulton Street
Brooklyn ( bet Thompkins & Brooklyn Aves)

FREE and open to all youth
Free Food, DJ & Giveaways
Safer Sex Awarness and Resources
Free HIV rapid Testing Available

Direction: #C Train to Kingston & Throop Aves
Bus: B25 or B44 to Fulton and Thompkins Ave

Sunday, February 28th
Brother *2* Brother – Domestic Violence & HIV/AIDS in the Brotherhood, Canticles Lounge, 207 Lewis Avenue, (Corner of Lewis & Lexington), Brooklyn 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Males Only age 15 and over. Free HIV testing, refreshments provided. For more information contact Rev. Dr. Waterman (347)332-9027, Rev. Dr. Whitney (718) 622-0557, or Rev. John (718)771-8061

Events in Manhattan

Friday, February 19th
Join the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC) at its’ General Quarterly Meeting featuring a panel discussion on
The Role of Media in HIV Prevention for Young Women of Color
Friday, February 19th, 10:00am-2:00pm
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
434 West 33rd Street, Penthouse
Btwn. 9th & 10th Avenues
Breakfast and Lunch will be provided
To register go to

Directions to 434 West 33rd Street by Subway:
The closest trains are the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, to 34th Street

Saturday, February 20th
The Road Less Traveled,
Second Providence Baptist Church, 11-13 West 116th Street, 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Continental Breakfast and Lunch. Testing will be provided.. RSVP by contacting: Rev Wilson – , Rev. Leudo – , or Rev. Kennedy –

Dr. King, Coretta Scott King and the continued fight for justice

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Monday, Jan. 18th marked the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday (Jan. 15th) and a national day of service. Many of you have heeded President Obama’s call to service without reservation.

As we celebrate, honor and reflect on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, The Black AIDS Institute asks, What Would Martin Do? In an article written by Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, he states “Dr. King would be leading a movement against the war and for creating jobs, passing meaningful health-care legislation, educating our young and protecting our environment. And yes, just as he stood up for the sanitation workers, Dr. King would be passionate about HIV/AIDS. There is no question that ending the AIDS epidemic would be at the top of his agenda. And because it would be at the top of his agenda, it would be at the top of our agenda.”

Phill Wilson believes, as well as I, that Dr. King would have been a significant leader in the struggle to end AIDS.  And though, Dr. King was not able to contribute to this movement, his wife was a strong advocate of the AIDS community.

In a speech she gave at the Metropolitan Community Foundation’s Circles Of Hope Dinner in 2002, she says “As my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, we are all “tied in a single garment of destiny,” … “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of all reality.”

Later, she states, “To eradicate AIDS, we must give our medical researchers and scientists all of the support they need to find the cure. But we must first and foremost cure our own hearts of the fear and ignorance that leads to ostracism of people with HIV and AIDS.”

Mrs. King was a vocal opponent against injustice. She was heard speaking out against capital punishment and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.  She also supported lesbian and gay rights and as demonstrated above, an ardent supporter of HIV and AIDS education and prevention. 

We are still struggling with many of the issues that Mrs. and Dr. King attempted to address. And we must continue to defend and protect human rights, especially as it relates to the fight for decent housing, equal job opportunities, education and healthcare. We, as a community of world citizens, must also fight against homelessness, poverty, hunger and the spread of AIDS.

His legacy as well as Mrs. King will live on with our continued effort to fight against injustice and stand for the rights of all!

Tiger Woods and the Spread of AIDS

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not suggesting that Tiger Woods is spreading AIDS or that he has AIDS but his sexual behavior should be a HUGE warning sign, red flag or bull horn to any person who is not practicing safe sex. Specifically, since it’s being alleged in the media, that not only has he had sex with 8 or possible more women, he also did not use condoms. That is not only a problem for his wife but for him and all the other women he has slept with.

Every time I screen the trailer to my film (one minute clip is on the homepage) or talk to a group or even just one person about AIDS and safe sex, I get a blank look. Everyone thinks, “I’m not that person, it could never happen to me.” “I know my partner.” “I would know if they were cheating.” “I would know if they were having an affair.” “I don’t need to wear a condom, I’m married or I got a steady partner!” I’m sure that’s what Mrs. Wood thought and the countless partners of other famous and everyday people in relationships. Not only are more and more people having sex outside their primary relationship, they are also having it with multiple people of both sexes. And most are not practicing safe sex. Therefore, they risk getting infected and infecting others.

Its a new era. We have to get real about the fact that the sex and sexuality of today is different from that of previous generations. This is not the free love of the 60’s and 70’s. Not only is the sex different, sexually transmitted diseases are different. Remember, HIV wasn’t formally recognized until 1981.  Fast forward twenty plus years, and as of January 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported increased rates of the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia and syphilis in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in the United States more than 13 million people are infected each year and more than 65 million have an incurable STD. Incidence of genital herpes in the United States has increased 30% over the past 20 years. Individuals who are infected with STDs are at least two to five times more likely than uninfected individuals to acquire HIV infection if they are exposed to the virus through sexual contact. In addition, if an HIV-infected individual is also infected with another STD, that person is more likely to transmit HIV through sexual contact than other HIV-infected persons.

So, what do we do now! Well, HIV testing is key in awareness, prevention and if necessary treatment. Communication is also key, even as difficult and uncomfortable as it might be. Talking to your partner could possible be the best way to save your life. But, its also important to talk to your healthcare professional, a relative, a friend or anyone you trust to help you flush out some feelings, concerns or questions you may have. Honesty is also vital, if we can’t talk honestly about sex and our sexuality then we can’t address issues and concerns that one might have. Information has to be a basic part of our learning and development as people. We are in an age were information is so easily accesseable. Its not that difficult to go on line and learn about AIDS and STDs or get a pamphlet or other materials that can be shared with members of your community. And lastly, Self-respect is crucial. Developing the skills to put yourself and your health first is very necessary. When we are better able to care for ourselves, then we become a better mother, father, partner, lover and friend. When we can determine and assert what is best for ourselves then we are less likely to be taken advantage of. We can express what we like, what we don’t like and what we will stand and not stand for. If more of us are able to become self assured, thoughtful and centered individuals then hopefully there will be less stories like this.

Women are still dying from AIDS

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Women with AIDS are dying faster than any other group in New York City. With NYC making 10% of the American women with AIDS, a whopping 60% of them are from the Bronx and Brooklyn. In an article written by Chris Norwood of the Bronx organization, Health People, she noted that the re-distribution of Ryan White funds to Manhattan based hospitals, agencies and organizations have hurt the services offered to the poorest and mostly minority AIDS population in the Bronx and Brooklyn. What makes this re-distribution suspect is that the AIDS organizations that received the majority of the funding serve a mostly white, middle class and gay male population. In the article, “Women with AIDS in NYC: Killing Them Softy”, she notes that, “Taking away the money and services that belong to women with AIDS was all the easier because they are powerless. The “social service” industry centered in Manhattan, although it promotes itself as a “protector” of the poor, hardly protested shifts that benefited its coffers any more than influential Manhattan AIDS organizations protested.” So, what happens to these women, who by large have children and are single. Well, with the lack of support services needed to manage their illness and to assist their families, they die.

Few of the pioneers that fought for these services are still around, women need to not only struggle to keep from being infected but they now must fight to protect the very services designed to help them survive. As we move into the 2nd week of World AIDS Day events, please keep these women in mind. Support them, donate to the organizations that assist them and volunteer to community groups that need foot soldiers in ending the spread of this disease.

The following are additional World AIDS Day Events, attend one if you haven’t already.

Thursday, December 10th

    • “Free HIV Testing”, at The Church of the Open Door, 201 Gold Street, Thursday, December 10th, light snacks available. Hosted by The AIDS Ministry of The Church of the Open Door. For more information call 718-512-5450

Saturday, December 12th

    • “It’s All About Men Again!” A Men’s Health Fair for World’s AIDS Day”, at Antioch Baptist Church, 828 Greene Avenue, Brooklyn, Saturday, Dec 12th, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free health screenings: Blood pressure, Diabetes, Cholesterol; Free Breakfast and lunch; Free or low cost Insurance information; Theatrical performances by CAMBA & THEO; Workshops on Men’s Health Issues; Free Flu Shot; Free HIV counseling and testing. For more information contact Sharon Miller at 347-332-9027 or call 917-972-9510

Thursday, December 17th

  • “Love Me Through It”,at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 279 Lafayette Avenue @ St. James Place, Brooklyn, Thursday, December   17th, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. A movie and dinner on us! A docu-drama that dramatizes a woman’s journey living with HIV and how the faith community responds. For more information contact Healing Touch HIV Ministry or Emmanuel Baptist Church, 718-622-1107 ext 56.


    Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

    December 1st is a major observance of World AIDS Day (WAD) when we remember those who have died from AIDS. It is an opportunity for individuals and group from across the world to come together to remember, and demonstrate worldwide support to, people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. It is the one-day in the year where issues surrounding HIV and AIDS can take center stage.

    The global theme for 2009 and 2010 World AIDS Day is “Universal Access and Human Rights” chosen by the World AIDS Campaign, a network of civil society groups active in the response to HIV and AIDS.

    The theme encourages us to deepen understanding, develop partnerships and challenge discriminatory laws, and practices that stand in the way of access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. When human rights are not respected, people living with HIV and AIDS are vulnerable to stigma and discrimination, illness, economic insecurity, and reduced access to treatment.

    Over the past years there have been some encouraging advances in the global response to HIV and AIDS We have seen increased commitment around the world to respond to HIV and AIDS in national and local initiatives, in churches and religious organizations and in civil society.

    Below is a listing of World AIDS Day Observances throughout NYC. There are also websites that provide more information about WAD and list events happening around the world. Feel free to post an event that is happening in your city, town or neighborhood. I encourage you to join with the community in leadership and solidarity and help promote universal access, human dignity and respect and protect the human rights of people living with or affected by HIV

    Let’s remember our brothers and sisters throughout the world who are affected by HIV and AIDS.

    World AIDS Day Websites



    Tuesday, Dec. 1st, 11AM to 3PM
    Remembrance, Honor and Hope Ceremony
    Monsignor Del Valle Square at So. Blvd. & 163rd St.
    (alternate rain space: 953 Southern Blvd., Suite 201)


    Tuesday, December 1st 10:00 a.m. – 12 Noon.
    How Does Your Knowledge of HIV Vaccine Research Stack Up”, World AIDS Day Breakfast,
    GMAD, 44 Court Street, Suite 1000, 10th Floor,
    Sponsored by Gay Men of African Descent
    For more information and to RSVP please call 718-222-6300, Ext 117.

    Tuesday, December 1st, 12 Noon
    “World AIDS Day 2009 -Universal Access and Human Rights”
    Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street,
    Sponsored by Watchful Eye
    For more information please call 347-533-4300

    Tuesday, December 1st, 5:00 p.m. – 8 p.m
    World AIDS Day Commemoration and Candle Light Vigil. at Kaniza Palace, 10 Snyder Ave,
    Sponsored by Caribbean Women’s Health Association.
    For more information call 718-826-2942.

    Tuesday, Dec. 1st, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m
    Coney Island Cathedral, 2816 Mermaid Ave,
    Sponsored by Amethyst Women’s Project and
    National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS of NYC.
    For more information contact Nicole or Eric at 718-333-2067

    Tuesday, Dec. 1st, 7pm
    World AIDS Day Interfaith service
    St Augustine Church,
    116 6th Avenue, Park Slope,
    Join others who are taking a spiritual and physical journey through AIDS.
    There will be music by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Manhattan
    and on display will be a collection of paintings titled, “Preparation Series”

    Friday, Dec. 5th, 6p.m. – 9p.m.
    “A Night of Healing – HIV, Doing More than Talking”,
    SUNY Downstate Medical Center,
    395 Lenox Road Between E. 34th Street and New York Avenue,
    Presented by The Adolescent Education Program (THEO)
    For more information contact THEO at 7189-270-3992/3898

    Saturday, December 5th, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m
    “HIV Awareness Community Outreach”,
    PS 287, 50 Navy Street, Brooklyn, NY.
    Hosted by The AIDS Ministry of the Church of the Open Door.
    For more information contact Joyce McDonald at 718-907-0763

    Saturday, December 5th, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    “When The Light Shines” with Testimonial Artist Joyce McDonald, at PS 287,
    50 Navy Street,
    Hosted by The AIDS Ministry of The Church of the Open Door.
    For more information contact Joyce McDonald at 718-907-0763

    Saturday December 5th 2009, 10:00 AM – 1:00pm
    In Commemoration of World AIDS Awareness Day
    St. George’s Episcopal Church,
    800 March Avenue,
    Sponsored by ABQ HIV/AIDS Ministry.
    For Further Information Contact: Sophia Baboolal at 718-789-6036

    Sunday, December 6th, 8 a.m. and 11 a.m
    “AIDS Ministry Sunday – at The Church of the Open Door”,
    201 Gold Street,
    Hosted by The AIDS Ministry of The Church of the Open Door.
    For more information call 718-512-5450

    Thursday, December 10th
    “Thursday After Special, at The Church of the Open Door,
    201 Gold Street, , Free HIV testing (bilingual), light snack.
    Hosted by The AIDS Ministry of The Church of the Open Door.
    For more information call 718-512-5450

    Saturday, Dec 12th, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    “It’s All About Men Again!” A Men’s Health Fair for World’s AIDS Day”,
    Antioch Baptist Church,
    828 Greene Avenue, Brooklyn,
    Presented by The United Men of Antioch and NBLCA of NYC.
    For more information contact Sharon Miller at 347-332-9027 or call 917-972-9510


    December 1, 2009
    125th Street in front of the State Office Building on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
    116th Street and 3rd Avenue 42nd Street 7th Avenue at Times Square
    14th Street at Union Square Park
    City Hall Park Tuesday December 1, 2009 12:00pm to 4:00pmItʼs
    Time To Remember….. For More Information Call(212) 828-6141

    Candlelight Vigil Begins at 6:00 pm
    Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan
    164 West 100th Street – (at Amsterdam Avenue)
    Candlelight Procession to Broadway UCC Church2504 Broadway (at 93rd Street)
    Time of Reflection and Reading of Names of Those We Have Lost to AIDS Begins at 6:30 pm
    World AIDS Day Gathering Begins at 7:00 pm
    Wheelchair accessible and ASL interpreted.Refreshments served following the gathering.
    For more information, call (212) 367-1016 or write to

    Co-Sponsors:  American Run for the End of AIDS,
    Broadway United Church of Christ, Gay Men’s Health Crisis,
    International AIDS Prevention Initiative, Keith Haring Foundation,
    LIFEbeat:  Music Industry Fights AIDS,
    Trinity Lutheran Church

    City Hall Park — 24 Hour Reading of Names of those we have lost in the Struggle
    For a 24-hour period beginning on December 1, 2009, activists, volunteers
    and those living with HIV and AIDS will read names continually at City Hall
    in lower Manhattan to memorialize loved ones, to raise awareness about the twin crises
    of HIV/AIDS and homelessness, and remind the world that AIDS is not over.

    Come by City Hall Park on December 1, any time day or night, to join in reading the names
    of those you have lost to HIV/AIDS.
    Go to for more information
    and to submit a name of a loved one to memorialize.

    4:00 pm – 7:30 pm

    National WORLD AIDS DAY event at the New York Public Library – Harlem Branch.
    New York Public Library – Harlem Branch
    9 West 24th Street
    New York, New York 10027

    “Interfaith service in commemoration of World AIDS Day (in Spanish)”
    United Methodist Church of the Village, 7th Ave, corner of 13th Street in Manhattan,
    5:30 pm. Sponsored by the Latino Commission on AIDS.Para información llame al 212-675-3288

    1 de Diciembre Dia Mundial del SIDA
    La Iglesia del Village,Una Iglesia Metodista Unida Progresistal
    201 W de la Calle 13 (Esquina con la 7a Ave.), New York, NY
    5:30 PM Vigilia, 6:00 PM Servicio Interreligioso


    Interfaith Community Dinner, Procession and Vigil

    Monday, November 30, 2009, 5:30 pm
    Free Community Dinner
    St. Phillips Baptist Church
    77 Benette Street

    Monday, November 30, 2009, 6:30 pm
    Interfaith Candlelight Vigil
    Meet Veterans’ Park – (Heberton & Park Ave in Port Richmond)

    Procession to
    Temple Emanu-El
    984 Post Ave.

    Between Heberton Ave & Decker Ave.
    Service begins at 7:00 pm


    9:30 am – 5:00 pm

    94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
    Jamaica, NY 11451
    Free and Confidential HIV/AIDS Testing & STD/STI will be provided by ACQC’s Education
    & Co-Factors Departments in Health Services Center in RM 1F01, 1st Floor ***
    For directions and all information contact Robert Steptoe or Melissa Robertson
    @ Queens HIV CARE Network, 718.739.2525
    Or, contact Sharon Hawkins, Manager of Health Services Center,
    Room 1F01, at York College – 718-262-2050