Washington Blade (05.16.2013)
Organizers have announced that their new coalition Pozitively Healthy will assume the advocacy role formerly filled by the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA), which closed its doors in February due to bankruptcy. Pozitively Healthy will be the advocacy arm of the Washington D.C.-based AIDS organization HealthHIV, which will assume all responsibility for managing Pozitively Healthy’s finances and infrastructure. Advocacy goals include access to prevention, care, and treatment in the context of healthcare reform. The coalition also will include the Names Project Foundation and AIDS-related publications. High-priority stakeholders include African-American men who have sex with men, women, and transgender persons. Pozitively Healthy will be an all-volunteer effort with no dues.
HealthHIV Executive Director Brian Hujdich invited AIDS activists and supporters to apply for membership on the nationwide steering committee that will set the agenda for the coalition. The steering committee currently has 16 members, five of whom previously served as NAPWA officials, including Frank Oldham, NAPWA executive director and chief executive officer; Judi Billings, NAPWA board chair; and Stephen Bailous, NAPWA deputy executive director. Billings and AIDS magazine A&U founder and publisher David Waggoner will serve as Pozitively Healthy steering committee co-chairs.
AIDS activists and bloggers voiced concerns about NAPWA staffers and officials having leadership positions in Pozitively Healthy, since NAPWA owed more than $750,000 at bankruptcy. Oldham resigned from NAPWA in October 2012. According to Bailous, NAPWA was unable to sustain fundraising during the recession.
Hujdich asserted that former NAPWA staffers and officials are part of the Pozitively Health leadership because of their experience and commitment. He stated that the steering committee will be responsible only for policy and advocacy, with no infrastructure or money management responsibilities.
Information about Pozitively Healthy and membership sign-up are available at http://www.healthhiv.org/.