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Cornelius Mabin Is #12 of Our Most Amazing HIV+ People of 2018

Cornelius Mabin

The Arkansas bases activist has turned a "patchwork" system into a viable model for the rest of the country.

Cornelius Mabin’s legacy in the state of Arkansas stretches across four decades. One of the first accolades he received came in 1983, when he served as the first African-American president of Arkansas Gay Rights, the state’s first LGBT rights organization.

Mabin later spoke to the Arkansas State Legislature about the importance of HIV resources in the state. His efforts around HIV/AIDS led to a co-chair position on the board of the Arkansas HIV Planning Group — the accomplishment Mabin says he’s most proud of: “With my election, I was both the first person of color and an individual living with HIV to serve.”

Mabin has served on the boards of Black and White Men Together and Arkansas AIDS Foundation, and is the founder and editor of CorneliusOnpoint, which served as one of the state’s leading LGBT news outlets for a decade. Looking back on his accomplishments, Mabin says, “All my work has challenged me to assess my viewpoints, check my privilege, make me acutely aware of the racism that I’ve endured and witnessed, and cause me to seek deep-dive conversations about the impact of living and loving with HIV as a black man in America. Through all of this, I’ve gained strength, stamina, growth, and have become fearless about living my life out loud with no regrets.”

Among the hats Mabin, 56, currently wears on a regular basis, one is reserved for Arkansas RAPPS, a community based program of The Strilite Foundation that facilitates connections to health care, education programming, and other support for people living with and impacted by HIV. While Mabin acknowledges there’s still work to be done in Arkansas, the strides made have been impressive.

“When I began my advocacy,” he recalls, “oftentimes our system of care was referred to as a ‘patchwork’ system. We’ve moved past that observation with the creation of more Ryan White service access centers; a statewide empowerment group system; scaling up our Community Connectors program to provide peer-to-peer, localized HIV education, testing, and linkage to care navigation; and the impending launch of a PrEP clinic founded and staffed by... LinQ for Life, Incorporated.”

On his part, Mabin says, “I want to leave [Arkansas] not as I found it, but at least [as a] work in progress that the next set of leaders can continue to build upon and make the entire LGBTQ community a better place to live, grow and love!”

Mike Halterman is the editor of Hotspots Central.

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