Iris House Inc.
New York, New York
Positive since 2004
Jeffrey Padilla has been an advocate for HIV prevention and LGBT issues for more than 10 years. He is a strong voice within the community and active in advocacy efforts to ensure that young gay African-American and Latino men have a safe haven at Iris House. Jeffrey is a health educator in the Listen Up program, which educates young men on HIV prevention, and he spearheaded i-Zone, the Iris House weekly support group for young gay men. Well-respected in the Harlem and Bronx communities, Jeffrey works from the heart and is deeply passionate about saving lives and preventing other young men from becoming HIV positive.
Penobscot Community Health Care/
Eastern Maine AIDS Network
Positive since 2003
Sharon Paul is an HIV/AIDS educator who works closely with the Native American population in the central Maine area. Through her work at Penobscot Community Health Care, she provides testing services for HIV and hepatitis C and educates individuals on HIV prevention. Sharon travels to organizations, agencies, schools, universities, pride marches, homeless shelters and any other place that will let her talk about HIV/AIDS. She also overseas the needle exchange program for the Eastern Maine AIDS Network. For Sharon, it’s about establishing trust and showing people that they too can survive.
Deputy Executive Director
Positive since 1986
Murray Penner is the deputy executive director of NASTAD (National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors) and oversees the Health Care Access, HIV Prevention, Viral Hepatitis, Health Equity programs and the ADAP Crisis Task Force, which negotiates ADAP drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. Murray is also board chair of HarborPath, the Clinton Foundation’s program that facilitates HIV prescription drug access to industry patient assistance programs. Murray works tirelessly day and night for people with HIV and hepatitis C and recently joined the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition and is on its board. He also participated in a recent FDA panel on patient-centered HIV “cure” issues.
Board Member & Volunteer
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
New York, New York
Positive since 2004
Osvaldo Perdomo went to GMHC when he was diagnosed with AIDS in 2004. As he started to access services, he also attended the therapeutic art classes. As his newfound love for painting grew, Osvaldo was invited to submit his artwork for Visual AIDS’s annual fundraiser, Postcards From the Edge. He subsequently submitted his artwork to GMHC’s annual client art show, Art & AIDS. Five years ago, he started co-curating the annual art exhibitions with artist David Livingston; he connected with the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art to have them host the show in December around World AIDS Day. Osvaldo has also helped coordinate panel discussions at the museum about the impact of art on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Osvaldo has served as team captain for Team Friends in Deed at AIDS Walk New York, and last year he joined the GMHC Board of Directors and its development committee.
Founder and Life Coach
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Positive since 1998
In 2007 Timothy Pitts founded The L.E.A.D. (Life Enrichment Adaptation & Development) Center, which uses a client-centered personal enrichment approach to promote positive behaviors and to help clients change behaviors that put them at risk. He has dedicated himself to the fight against HIV/AIDS and has traveled to many underserved areas of the South reaching out to leaders to address HIV prevalence and AIDS services. Timothy helps individuals turn mere existence into fulfilled living.
AIDS/HIV Services Group
Positive since 1989
Doris Plant-Hill has been a tireless volunteer for AIDS/HIV Services Group (ASG) for more than three years. No volunteer task is too small and none too great for her to handle. Doris has also been a strong peer model for SISTA, a course devoted to empowering African-American women to take control of their lives and health. A former intravenous drug user, she is devoted to her long-term recovery and is a regular fixture in ASG’s substance abuse support group. Doris has appeared in several TV spots discussing her HIV status and path to health. She is also on track to serve on the agency’s Community Advisory Board where she can influence the agency’s course as it moves forward.
Stephen A. Puibello is an activist living with HIV and bipolar disorder who is committed to reaching out to others with similar challenges and letting them know they are not alone. In 2004, he created the website, bipolarbear.us, which provided him with a platform to share his experiences as a gay man recovering from substance abuse and facing the challenges of living with HIV and bipolar disorder. The website provides self-help, peer-to-peer, and LGBT community mental health resources for those dually diagnosed with HIV and mental illness and who face the compound stigma of both. Stephen has been a member of Positive Pedalers since 2003 and raises money and awareness for various bipolar disorder- and HIV-related causes. He was recently named a Voice Awards Fellow by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Jaime Rebeles, LVN
Licensed Vocational Staff Nurse
Valley AIDS Council/Westbrook Clinic
Positive since 2011
Jaime Rebeles started working at the Valley AIDS Council as a staff nurse in September 2011 with more than 10 years of experience ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics. He provides guidance to the staff on matters including policy and procedures, quality improvement and clinical research. In addition, he provides direct care to clients living with HIV/AIDS, offering a hug or listening ear when needed. Jaime speaks at the local nursing schools and is a mentor to all the students who volunteer with the agency. He is passionate about his work at Valley AIDS Council and shares his story in order to help others. He is working toward a specialization as an AIDS care nurse.
The Bronx, New York
Positive since 1987
Ronald Regins is an active alumni of ASCNYC (AIDS Service Center NYC). He helps individuals navigate the system and helps locate those “lost to follow-up.” He is a peer educator who works all over the city, and his main focus is prison reintegration and re-socialization. Ronald sits on the community advisory boards for Village Care and Daytop Village. He is active in the Treatment for Life Program at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn. Ronald also facilitates Think Tank: Prison Health for the Action Center at GMHC. He has been active in lobbying for sick pay wages, the 30 Percent Rent Cap Bill and an end to stop and frisk policies in NYC. Ronald also wrote a play about diagnosis, dysfunction and disclosure called Paper Plates Paper Roses.
Activist and Blogger
Positive since 2012
Josh Robbins deftly uses social media (you can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and more) to bring a face to HIV and show the realities of living with the virus. Before his diagnosis, Josh was raising awareness about HIV in the LGBT community and fundraising for the AIDS service organization Nashville CARES. He was also a volunteer for HVTN 505, a clinical vaccine trial. After he learned he was HIV positive, Josh created his website, Imstilljosh.com, which aims to help those living with the virus become advocates for themselves and others and be a voice against stigma. His simple motto—“I’m Still Josh. You Still Be You!”—offers encouragement and inspiration to those recently diagnosed with HIV.
Linkage and Retention Coordinator
UAB Family Clinic
Positive since 1998
Cynthia Rodgers has been a linkage and retention coordinator at the University at Birmingham for 13 years. She has a special gift for reaching out to children, teens and young adults and getting them into care. Cynthia has volunteered with AIDS Alabama ever since the time of her diagnosis. She currently serves on Alabama’s Positive Leadership Council, an advocacy group that spends time researching policies and practices that affect HIV-positive people and helps them become leaders in their community. Cynthia always wears a huge smile, gives the largest hugs and wants each person to fulfill his or her destiny. She is there to lift you up, convince you of your worth and help you believe you can live a long and happy life—with or without HIV.
Ruth Royster Fordham has a true commitment to advocacy on behalf of people who are living with and affected by HIV. She educates and empowers them through her community outreach and early intervention techniques. As an early intervention specialist at Access AIDS Care, Ruth leads by example and inspires her colleagues to give their all. She is a compassionate professional who is able to work under difficult, high-pressure situations and still attain excellent results. She touches the lives of many people living with HIV/AIDS.
James ‘JR’ Rude
Quality Management Specialist
Southwest CARE Center
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Positive since 1989
James ‘JR’ Rude is a great asset to the Southwest CARE Center. He is an active member of the Client Advisory Board and volunteers every year for the AID & Comfort Gala, the Kentucky Derby Day Event and other fundraisers. An active member of the center’s organizational health team, he is always seeking out new ways to make everyone’s work easier. JR is a team player with a great sense of humor and deep commitment to the agency’s mission of improving the health of people living in the culturally diverse communities of northern New Mexico.