It’s Not a Past-time, It’s a Duty

By Rob Banaszak on September 27, 2013 in HIV/AIDS Awareness Days, m2mPower

kenny_palmer_webby Kenny Palmer,  AIDS United Public Policy Assistant

I find it rather fitting that National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day coincides with the end of my first week with AIDS United. This first week has really opened my eyes to the vast amount of individuals around the country who have dedicated their lives to defeating to this disease, and also to the great amount of work that remains to be done. The battle against HIV/AIDS is one in which I have a personal stake. As an African American and a gay male, I belong to two communities that are disproportionately affected by this disease. For me, combating this disease is not a past-time, it’s a duty.

I grew up in South Carolina and attended undergrad at Furman University. During my academic career, I undertook several internships and fellowships. It was during this time that I began my first Congressional internship in Washington, DC. Working on the Hill allowed me to observe the legislative process first hand, but it was living in DC that really opened my eyes to several issues that existed within the LGBT community; issues that I’d never been fully exposed to while living in the South. Sure I knew about the vast discrimination that existed, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. It was then that I decided that I wanted to be more active in both the LGBT community and the African-American community.

I look forward to working with the team at AIDS United to meet those individuals who are on the front lines of this battle and personally know the needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in their perspective areas. The opportunity to meet such icons as AU President/CEO President Michael Kaplan, Rep. Barbara Lee and others still has me star-struck. Furthermore, the chance to become extremely knowledgeable in healthcare and budgetary policy really excites me. I hope to accomplish a lot during my time here but above all, I would like to see a firm partnership emerge between the African-American and LGBT community, especially in the battle against HIV/AIDS.




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