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For years, Angel Camacho has been a leading force in organizing activities that help fight HIV/AIDS in Miami. Known as Angel Infiniti in the Florida house and ball scene, he brings the community together in unique ways. He currently works as a peer prevention case manager at Borinquen Medical Centers of Miami-Dade and is on the Care and Treatment Committee of the Miami-Dade HIV/AIDS Partnership. Angel has an enthusiastic way of providing HIV education to the South Florida community; thanks to him, many individuals have sought HIV treatment and assistance.
Born with a rare heart defect, Derek had open-heart surgery at 3 months old. Although the surgery was a success, as Derek grew older, he often got sick and didn’t gain much weight, which doctors attributed to his heart condition. It wasn’t until he was 16 that someone suggested he be given an HIV test. It turns out, he’d contracted the virus from a blood transfusion as an infant. Today, he’s an outspoken HIV advocate, speaking at schools around Georgia and Florida as well as in the media. He founded the #EndTheStigma campaign, and as DJ D-REK, he’s taking his message to the dance floor and the karaoke booth. Sounds like a No. 1 hit to us!
As the executive director of the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC), Nicholas works to further the organization’s mission to promote accessible and high-quality systems of HIV prevention, treatment, care, housing and support services throughout the South. Before SAC, the Alabama native was executive director of the AIDS Action Coalition in Huntsville. His advocacy, which spans more than a decade in various HIV-related positions, is fueled by the loss of two uncles to AIDS. In 2006, after graduating from the University of Alabama School of Law, Nicholas founded the state’s first legal program for people living with the virus. In 2010, he joined the U.S. Peace Corps and designed HIV-related programs in Eastern Europe. He currently sits on the U.S. Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
A resident of the Rio Grande Valley, 24-year-old Adrian is focused on “collaborating, creating and increasing participation with community events, AIDS service organizations and outreach programs.” He began advocacy work shortly after his AIDS diagnosis in March 2014. Later that same year, he attended the United States Conference on AIDS as part of NMAC’s Youth Initiative to End HIV & AIDS in America. Adrian is currently a risk reduction specialist at Valley AIDS Council in McAllen. He was recently featured in a Greater Than AIDS campaign called “Somos Familia,” which focuses on the importance of family support. Adrian encourages everyone to get educated about HIV/AIDS and to support those who are living with the virus. His blog, A+ (adrianplus.com), is just one of the many ways he advocates for people living with HIV.
Palm Bay, Florida
John is a peer advocate who is currently the cochair of the Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN) in Melbourne, Florida. The group coordinates meetings with community members to develop advocacy plans; it also plans testing and educational events related to treatment and prevention in collaboration with the Black AIDS Institute and Area 7 HIV service organizations in Brevard County. John is the prevention chair for the Central Florida AIDS Planning Consortium and a member of the State of Florida Integrated Planning Body and the State of Florida Gay Men’s Advisory Group. He previously served as a board member for Unconditional Love, Inc. His commitment to the cause is clear, and in 2016, he was honored by the Women’s League of Brevard County Health Care Committee for outstanding work during National HIV Testing Day.
A former drug dealer and addict, Steve turned a positive diagnosis nearly 30 years ago into a positive lifestyle when he decided to get clean and give back to his community. As an outreach worker for the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, Steve distributes harm-reduction tools, such as sterile syringes, condoms, lube and information about preventing HIV and hepatitis C, to the drug users and sex workers populating the same streets he once prowled. What’s more, his background and nonjudgmental approach inspire those who may be alienated from traditional health care to connect to treatment when they’re ready. And at 67, he still hands out hope day after day—despite suffering from complications associated with HIV, hepatitis C and cancer.
Lack of public transportation, a shaky health care infrastructure and a shortage of specialized HIV doctors are some of the biggest barriers to HIV care in rural Alabama. Through telemedicine, Laurie is addressing those issues head-on. As the medical director and chief medical officer of Medical AIDS Outreach in Montgomery, where she’s worked for 20 years, Laurie has designated certain HIV care providers as hub locations that provide medical care and drug adherence counseling for patients at remote clinics via high-definition encrypted video and Bluetooth peripheral equipment, like stethoscopes. This means more people can “see” their health care provider without traveling long distances. Her devotion to providing holistic, compassionate medical care to people living with HIV in Alabama is inspiring—and expanding thanks to modern technology.
Dazon Dixon Diallo
In 1989, Dazon founded SisterLove, Inc., an organization focusing on women of African descent in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the struggle for human rights and reproductive justice. She holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College, which also awarded her an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Dazon is an adjunct faculty member in women’s health for the master of public health program at Morehouse School of Medicine. She also serves as cochair of the ACT NOW Coalition, a member of the Fulton County HIV Task Force and a board member of the National Women’s Health Network. In 2001, Dazon opened a SisterLove program office in rural South Africa. Each week, she speaks to hundreds of black women via her radio show, “Sista’s Time.”
Greenwood, South Carolina
Three years ago, Billy was plagued with health problems but afraid to get tested for HIV because he thought it wasn’t treatable. Eventually, after being hospitalized, he got treatment and education—much to the relief of his husband, son, dad and siblings. No longer in denial, Billy has volunteered at Upper Savannah Care Services and Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services (PALSS), offering counseling and helping others avoid his mistakes. His HIV-themed tattoo is another way Billy shares his inspiring story.
Chip is currently taking the HIV med Truvada as PrEP, and he doesn’t care who knows it. In fact, he wants as many folks as possible to hear about the pre-exposure prophylaxis. Chip believes that an effective way to spread the word about prevention—and HIV in general—is to be vocal and public. That’s why he excels as the advocacy coordinator at Philadelphia Center in Shreveport, where he puts himself front and center in the efforts to fight HIV criminalization, promote HIV testing and advocate for those living with the virus. He’s also active with the Louisiana AIDS Advocacy Network (LAAN), making his voice heard well beyond the northwest parish.
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Yvonne is a program manager at the Southern Regional Area Health Education Center in Fayetteville. She’s also a medical social worker in the infectious disease clinic. She has been instrumental in helping those infected with HIV not only get access to care but also stay in care. Yvonne also helped develop an eight-week Prevention for Positive program that educated and informed clients on how to prevent new infections and is working on ways to engage at-risk communities about PrEP. Her innovative and proactive approach renders her a valuable asset in combatting HIV in the South.
Jason is a health counselor/disease intervention specialist for the Virginia Department of Health and directly works with those in the Piedmont region who have recently been diagnosed with or exposed to HIV. Jason engages in disease surveillance, educates community members about HIV/AIDS and works tirelessly to ensure that individuals have access to the services they need. Jason is also active in the LGBT community as a speaker and entertainer and uses his formidable social media presence to dispel myths and misconceptions about HIV, sexual health and LGBT issues while also encouraging individuals to embrace self-empowerment. He hosts a weekly live online broadcast and was a spokesperson for the Greater Than AIDS #SpeakOutHIV campaign, which encourages the LGBT community to confront the silence and stigma that surrounds HIV. He’s also a spokesmodel for the CDC’s “Start Talking. Stop HIV.” campaign.
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