50+ Black Southern Individuals and Organizations “Stand Together in Power” 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Charles Stephens
Email: charles.stephens@counternarrative.org

February 20, 2019 – Atlanta, GA – Black people represent only 13% of the population but 50% of people living with HIV. The epicenter of that epidemic continues to be the Southern region of the United States and has been for some time. In response to the endurance of the epidemic and the anemic response to that epidemic as it relates to black Americans, particularly in the South, on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a group of activists and organizations are demanding change. The Counter Narrative Project, a national black gay men’s advocacy organization located in Atlanta, joined over 50 signees on a five-point statement of principled stances demanding the following: “1) We must speak for ourselves; 2) Black leadership (e.g., organizational leadership must reflect those communities most impacted); 3) Celebrate commonality and honor diversity among black people; 4) Fund us, by us (e.g., grantmaking should prioritize black-led and black serving organizations; and, 5) Accountability to us (e.g., community accountability for how organizational resources are distributed and administered to serve underserved black communities). Given that Southern blacks lead America’s HIV epidemic, these fundamentals for best practice HIV/AIDS policy and protocols, it seems, are bare minimum necessities at best.

In their five-point letter, the signed collective is merely pointing these facts out along with another stark reality: the status quo is not sustainable. One cannot reach black communities to reduce HIV without properly trained, prepared, and supported black leadership, without a cultural understanding of the diversity and range among black people (and how to make that diversity work for not against reducing HIV), without funding those entities black communities actually trust and will access for HIV services, and without ignoring and honoring community accountability processes that demands effectiveness in meeting the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating HIV in the black community. These demands are not conjecture, but statements of facts backed up by years of empirical research on community health. The Counter Narrative Project stands by these facts and asks members to join us in this stance together in black solidarity, in Southern solidarity, to meet the HIV crisis before us in black America.

Read statement here: https://blacksouth.wixsite.com/home

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