by Michael Ward
The news of Michael Johnson’s conviction reversal gives a glimpse of hope that lawmakers and those who preside over these cases understand the need to review antiquated HIV criminalization laws, which disproportionately affect Black people. I hope Michael feels the community rallying behind him to assist in making his release from prison is permanent. As President Obama leaves office and the presidency is turned over to less qualified hands, more than ever love must be at the core of our work. Let’s embrace our differences as Black gay men with open hearts and minds.
In 2017, as a gay Black man I hope to use my voice and pen to educate and inform others that HIV is not a crime, that being HIV positive shouldn't mean a negative effect on someone's employment, relationships, medical care or housing conditions. We must increase the visibility of PREP programs and link those with risk of infection to those services if they so choose. In addition, we must empower our community to demand quality, honest and worthwhile conversations with our Healthcare providers. HIV patients are more than just a number and much more valuable than a copay. We must continue to advocate for the change in our local communities and the nation. As always with each passing day, let alone year, I pray for the defeat of HIV.