Adrian Neil Jr. serves as a capacity building specialist for AIDS United’s Getting to Zero initiative. Prior to that Neil served as the program manager for the Ohio AIDS Coalition, the policy and advocacy division of Equitas Health. He shares his own personal experiences as an African-American same-gender-loving man to promote self-love, self-affirmation, self-empowerment, and healing as these elements are an integral part of his own personal journey and work.
Neil’s goal is to change the mindset about HIV and AIDS in the communities around him. He also believes in addressing other disparities that marginalized communities face.
He was diagnosed with AIDS in July 2009, a day that changed his life forever. With a CD4 count of just two and a viral load “well into the six figures, I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do,” Neil admits. “The day I found out, I actually went back to work — I’m a workaholic — as if nothing happened and put it in the back of my head hoping that I could escape it, but it wouldn’t let me. In just three to four years, I was hospitalized three times. Neil admits, even when he wasn’t hospitalized, he feared he would never have sex again or be in a healthy intimate relationship. He recalls, “I was outed by coworkers and the company that I worked for attempted to terminate me multiple times after I was outed, and my status became company knowledge.”
That experience was particularly traumatic for him because of his workaholic nature. He prided himself on doing amazing work.
With the help of his mother and her strength, his medical team, and the support of family and friends, Neil not only recovered, but reached an undetectable status in 2012. Empowered by his miraculous health turnaround, Neil began sharing his story at various community groups, schools, and universities. He also began volunteering for an Mpowerment Project program focused on supporting young black gay men living with HIV in Dayton, Ohio.
“While volunteering, I heard about a position as a testing coordinator and decided to apply,” He didn’t get the job, but instead, the organization created a position for him, where he “had the opportunity to work with congressmen and women, mayors, and senators to reduce HIV in the state of Ohio.
Now with AIDS United, Neil is developing and implementing trainings for organizations across the country on leadership development, communication, conflict management, cultural humility and other topics.
“I have been blessed to influence various communities and meaningfully influence various people in an effort to educate.”