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Black HIV Leaders on What They Want From Biden in 2021

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata from Pexels

"Mr. President, let my people be healed and let them be cured.”

After an unprecedented and emotionally exhausting year, Plus asked some of the most respected Black leaders in the HIV community what they want to see happen in 2021.


Raniyah Copeland
President and CEO, Black AIDS Institute  

“Despite a pandemic that has disproportionately ravaged Black communities, the Black AIDS Institute and our Black Treatment Advocates Networks [BTANs] are proud to have contributed to the voter mobilization that propelled this historic presidential win. While we are cautiously optimistic about a new leadership that has acknowledged white supremacy, our commitments to ending HIV will continue to be driven by the communities most impacted in 2021 and beyond. In 2021 we will be launching a national biomedical research initiative to educate Black communities about scientific advancements like HIV and COVID vaccine trials; expand our direct HIV and health services in Los Angeles; a new celebrity engagement video conversation series called Black Voices Matter; and a just-launched website to better engage Black communities. Ending HIV in Black America will only happen if our efforts to end HIV are led by Black communities most impacted, and BAI is at the forefront of ensuring that Black America isn’t left behind in those efforts.”


Donté Smith
Lead patient educator for infectious disease, Legacy Community Health

“This year has seen so much beautiful mobilization and community support building in queer/ trans/people of color communities. I’m so proud of the work my folks have been doing. I pray that we can keep this momentum up in the next year. Also, as people living with HIV who are involved in health justice activism, I hope that we can grant ourselves the spaces to grieve, breathe, and re-center ourselves, and to recognize that our communities face intense systemic health challenges from institutional racism — not just COVID-19.”


Harold Brown
Retired educator & advocate, founder of the Hoosier IAC Scholarship

“I, as a person living with HIV, am honored to be asked to convey my request to the honorable President-Elect Joe Biden to what would begin to fulfill my hopes in 2021. The far-reaching impact of Plus magazine has become a vital connection among LGBTQ+ elders who have survived the HIV pandemic. I am reminded of the story of God telling Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell him ‘let my people go.’ Moses spoke and said he was of poor speech and asked who was he to tell Pharaoh what to do. Since I have only such authority in my heart, I, too, have no words to tell Biden what to do. This is my quote: Mr. President, let my people be healed and let them be cured.”


Ahmier Gibson
Lead community engagement coordinator, Legacy Community Health

“My hope for American HIV care in 2021 is that systems seeking to provide well-care services continue to embrace technology and new multi-level approaches that are creative, people-centered, culturally responsive, and trauma-informed. Many people living with and vulnerable to HIV deal with a wide range of identified challenges, barriers, and needs that are systematically unmet before HIV is ever added to their experience. The reimagining of outdated care policies and practices, being intentional about focusing on the quality of care, and genuinely diversifying the administrators of care services far beyond the front desk must not be overlooked when implementing modern strategies to bring and keep people in care. The world is changing rapidly, and the response from provider to community in partnership with each other needs to change with it. The time to be innovative is now, and technology and science are both on our side. Together, we can end the epidemic.”

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