POZ Exclusives : Thoughts on the End of NAPWA - by POZ Staff

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February 21, 2013

Thoughts on the End of NAPWA

by POZ Staff

Founded in 1983, the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) recently ceased operations and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The HIV/AIDS community has met the demise of the organization with mixed reactions. Here is a sampling of those initial reactions.

Paul Kawata, National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) executive director:
“As one of the founders of NAPWA, this is a true loss for our movement. The organization may have closed, but its early leadership and vision laid the foundation for so much of our work. I will always remember and appreciate their strength and compassion during those dark, early days of the epidemic.”
Jesse Milan Jr., Black AIDS Institute chair emeritus:
“NAPWA had an historic role for all Americans who have lived with HIV/AIDS. We owe a great debt to its brave founders, staff and board members. They paved the way for PLWHA across the nation to live longer and healthier lives-and free of stigma and discrimination.”
Peter Staley, AIDS activist and AIDSmeds founder:
“NAPWA was the last keeper of the flame for the Denver Principles and it's sad to think there are few if any institutions willing to defend them going forward.”
Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+NA):
“While we salute the historical role of NAPWA and valuable work done by those who were part of NAPWA over the years, we also know that the organization often struggled to fulfill its mission to be an effective national voice of and for people living with HIV/AIDS.

“As the North American affiliate of the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, GNP+NA believes that the closing of NAPWA must be the impetus for a far-ranging participatory discussion that re-imagines and strengthens [people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)] organizing and leadership in the United States.

“One of the first steps must be a full, honest and transparent explanation of the circumstances and actions leading to NAPWA’s closure. Like others in the AIDS community, we have recently been made aware of troubling issues that appear to have led to the bankruptcy. Any tax-exempt group that has raised and spent tens of millions in contributions, grants and government funds over the years owes such accountability to the community they purport to represent.”
Sean Strub, Sero Project executive director and POZ founder:
“I'm sad to see them go but hopeful that this will provide an opportunity for a more effective, representative and accountable national voice for people with HIV to emerge. [A group like NAPWA] is needed more than ever before. [A strong national voice is needed] to deal with rising stigma and criminalization, declining interest in and commitment to empowerment principles as embodied in the Denver Principles. Most of all, we need to focus on how we bring attention and effective resources to the epidemic that continues to grow amongst young gay men and especially amongst young African-American men who have sex with men.”
Michael Petrelis, AIDS activist and blogger:
“Should a new organization be formed to represent the voices and needs of people with HIV and AIDS? Yes, of course, but it should from the start be fully transparent and accountable to the community it wants to represent.

“After NAPWA allowing itself to be coopted by the CDC and OraSure and Gilead grants, not to mention misguided influence by AIDS service groups, its biggest problem was a top-down, closed-door approach. Look at where it got them.

“AIDS isn't over and there is very much still a need for a responsible and authentic grassroots organization to advocate on behalf of PWAs.”

Search: National Association of People With AIDS, NAPWA, National Minority AIDS Council, NMAC, Paul Kawata, Black AIDS Institute, BAI, Jesse Milan, Peter Staley, Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, North America, GNP+NA, Sean Strub, Sero Project, Michael Petrelis

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  comments 1 - 9 (of 9 total)    

Harleymc, , 2013-03-14 18:33:20
Times change, the nature of the epidemic has changed. A completely fresh and new national organisation without the baggage of the past might be re-invigorating for the community.

Sean Patrick, Hollywood, 2013-02-26 10:56:56
I'm unfamiliar with the inner workings of NAPWA, and I hope that a bankruptcy doesn't expose any improprieties, as happens so many times when an organization waxes political in order to get things done. We do need an organization in the US that is now able, thankfully, to focus on living with HIV, instead of on being disabled and dying with it, without forgetting that HIV is still a global disaster. At home we're coming out younger and living much longer. Our voice needs a much broader sound.

Frederick Wright, Coachelle Valley, 2013-02-23 13:01:31
Ken Babauta I think in some of your comments are correct in some points, however it may seem like it is all about money for some, however for me it is about intergety,honor and truth for in my walk money can not buy or create this in a man or woman or organization. We may never know why this money is not their, for it could of been invested in a company that was getting ready to launch at new product with hopes for big returns with the motives to bring NAWPA into the Black and failed.Who Knows?

Ken Babauta, Benicia, CA, 2013-02-23 00:57:31
This is a tragedy that NAPWA is filing for bankruptcy. I think that no matter how great the vision of the organization if it isn't being managed properly, the organization will fail. How can 700,000 dollars be unaccounted for unless people incharge of the finances were asleep at the wheel. A little common sense about money and how it's spent should have been a prerequisite for everyone in charge of the organization. It always comes down to money doesn't it?

Frederick Wrightt, Coachella Valley, 2013-02-22 16:46:58
I too have ask the inter circle leadership to rebrand NAPWA many times in many venues just short of yelling in zeal to say change the name and old focus of angry, sadness to GNPNA. Do to pride, ego and the sadness of AIDS becoming a business Brand of money and leaving people out not one had the leadership skills or vision, Inter Circle TAI,BAI,NMAC,AIDS Action, etc. Change the Name and Re Brand and come out of Bankruptcy, for hope, faith and Loving action HIV people Unify, and Come together.

Sandy Swartz, PLWA, Topeka, 2013-02-22 01:51:30
As a Person Living With AIDS for 28 years I am disappointed to hear about the NAPWA and wonder just what this negative news will do to the amount of contributions to other AIDS organizations.

Jason Gagnon, Watervliet, NY, 2013-02-21 19:31:33
This made me cry.

Thomas Simmons, Shelburne Falls, MA, 2013-02-21 16:01:18
For years I wrote to them, complaining of their refusal to modernize and keep up with changes in the HIV health field. While they constantly said they were 'moving towards that goal,' they never did. They are a victim of their own intransigence.

Frederick Wright, Coachelle Valey, 2013-02-21 13:39:15
I wonder by the lack of comments on the first attempt to have conversation on NAPWA closer, if any one is any reading POZ online or most readers do not even know who NAPWA was becoming. In this attempt to rally a few comments and the lack of comments again the writing is on the wall. It is easy to point out the problems in a past tense for most in the enter circle knew... had a problem like Marion Barry and not one spoke to the problem. Remember People in NAPWA fought for Millions for GNP

comments 1 - 9 (of 9 total)    

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