Developing HIV/AIDS Strategies in the South: Day 2

By Rob Banaszak on September 30, 2010 in Southern Initiatives

By Jeff Graham, Executive Director
Equality Foundation of Georgia

Day two of the Southern REACH convening allowed us the opportunity to work in smaller groups to share information on issues and activities that support HIV/AIDS advocacy in our region.  My friend and colleague Dazon Dixon Diallo of SisterLove summed up the goal of our work when she reminded us that it’s important to speak from one page as a region and realize how each group’s work support our collective goals.

As someone who has worked on HIV advocacy in the south for more than 20 years, it’s always refreshing to hear how others are approaching this work.  Groups broke out to create broad strategies that address the intersection of issues such as Reproductive Justice, Housing, Human Rights, PWLHA Organizing, coordinating Legislative Advocacy Days and promoting Harm Reduction.

Reproductive rights breakoutMy agency looks primarily at how issues of importance to Georgia’s LGBT community intersect with the issues of people living with HIV/AIDS.  Although the topic of Harm Reduction is usually seen as a domain defined exclusively by injection drug users, as the discussion unfolded, we realized that many groups of people such as diabetics and public safety officials can benefit from syringe access programs.  We even identified uninsured transgender individuals as a group who may benefit from these programs if they are forced to share syringes for hormone injections.  Clearly the work that may at first only support one group actually serves to help many others. Housing breakout group

In the afternoon we looked at the how Strategic Communications can advance our cause.  The highlight of this panel was an in-depth look at the Kaiser Family Foundation’s national campaign: We are Greater than AIDS.  This innovative program leverages some of the best talents in the marketing and communications world to bring the issue of the domestic HIV epidemic to a public that has begun to forget that AIDS is still a plague on many of our communities. It’s an excellent example of how we can all benefit when multiple sectors find ways to work together and share our talents towards creating a world where HIV infections are rare and all people living with HIV/AIDS are treated with dignity and respect.

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