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Black treatment advocates travel to International AIDS Conference

Black-TreatmentBlack treatment advocates travel to International AIDS Conference

Members of the Black Treatment Advocates Network

      This week Black Treatment Advocates sponsored by the Black AIDS Institute will travel to Durban, South Africa, where they will attend the International AIDS Conference, which is returning to South Africa for the first time since 2000.

Delegates will attend a wide variety of conference sessions with the goal of transferring knowledge back to Blacks in the U.S.

Historically, community participation in the Basic Science, Clinical Science, and Epidemiology and Prevention Science Tracks has been relatively small. Many PLWHA and/or working with community-based organizations or non-governmental organizations have found the information presented to be unnecessarily inaccessible. The delegates will help maximize community participation in the core science tracks of the conference and broaden the dissemination of treatment and prevention science research to underserved communities. Their work is being funded by Gilead, The Ford Foundation’s Institute of International Edu-cation, Merck and UNAIDS.

Lauren Gauthier is the Prevention Program Manager for the NO/AIDS Task Force d/b/a Crescent Care.

She is a member of Black AIDS Institute’s Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN), New Orleans chapter, and is a graduate and fellow of Black AIDS Institute’s African American HIV/AIDS University (AAHU) Community Mobilization College. She has been active in advocacy work since high school, promoting adolescent pregnancy prevention and working with Girls on the Run International, an empowerment program for young girls. She also helps supervise the cultural and athletic programs at a local New Orleans neighborhood park. The Baton Rouge native received a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and a Bachelor Arts in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Emory University. She also holds a Masters from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine where she concentrated in International Health and Development.

John Curry is an Adherent Educator in the outreach program at Unconditional Love Inc. in Melbourne, Florida, where he works with high-risk patients who require assistance in adhering to their medication regimens. A graduate of the AAHU Community Mobilization College and the Science and Treatment College, John is the implementer of the BTAN Melbourne chapter and serves as one of the co-chairs. John also sits on the Florida HIV Patient Care and Prevention Planning Body, which writes the HIV prevention plan for all PLWHA in Florida and is the Prevention Representative for Area-7 (Central Florida). He chairs the Brevard County Prevention Committee and serves on Florida’s Gay Men’s Advisory Board, which creates HIV initiatives for men having sex with men. He received an Associate of Arts degree from Eastern Florida College and will graduate from the University of Phoenix with a Bachelor’s in Human Services next spring. He would like to do HIV work abroad.

Sylvia Britt currently works as a Health & Wellness Coach at Lifelong Medical, serving the homeless population. She was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2003 and soon after found her calling as a peer advocate helping women overcome the stigma associated with HIV. Her journey began in 2004 at Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Disease, a female-led foundation to combat HIV and AIDS. Her own hard fought battle through drug addiction and recovery, took her to Spelman College before returning to Oakland to care for family members. She has worked as a HIV Wellness Navigator at the Summit Medical Center’s East Bay AIDS Center in Oakland helping non-adherent clients get back into care. Her openness about personal struggles, willingness to accompany HIV women to appointments and the discussion groups she held helped the women gain self confidence. In 2013 she received a National HIV Hero Award and was honored with a college scholarship in her name. She is currently working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Laney College, working on a memoir, and is proud that she was able to raise the money to attend the conference, and adds: “I am basically staying connected to the world of HIV but not working directly (in HIV).”

Ingrid Floyd is the Executive Director at Iris House, an AIDS-service organization in New York City, where she oversees the administrative and financial operations of the agency. After 10 years at Deloitte Consulting, she turned her attention to improving the lives of underserved women and families, especially those impacted by HIV. She is credited with bringing HIV testing and counseling programs to Iris House as well as the social media marketing campaign Love Your Life, Keep It 100 that features young Black male models and scannable “quick response” (QR) codes that instantly direct smartphone users to an HIV-prevention website. Posters and palm cards bearing the same catchy images and phrase carry the message throughout New York City’s Harlem and South Bronx neighborhoods. “Keep It 100” is one of the first marketing campaigns to use QR codes as an interactive tool to prevent HIV/AIDS. Ms. Floyd is also a board member of the National Women and AIDS Collective NWAC, a member of the NJ HIV Prevention Group, and is a member of Black Agency Executives.

Shalaurey Jones is a Resident Director, Management Services Officer at UCLA where she manages a resident hall, deals with emergency student conduct and student development. She also chairs the UCLA Sexual Health Coalition and works with Sexual Assault Prevention. The Chicago native is a 2015 graduate of AAHU and an active participant in BTAN Los Angeles chapter’s faith and spirituality committee presenting HIV education to the church community. Before relocating to Los Angeles, Shalaurey received her Bachelor and Master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and held similar resident coordinator responsibilities at the university. She was also the Director/Administrator of the Multi-Cultural Health Center there. Later this year Shalaurey will enter the PhD program at Loma Linda University as a doctorate fellow in public health and health policies. She is grateful for the support she has received from the Residential Life department to attend the conference.

Darrin K. Johnson is the Project Director for the Online Safe Space Initiative, empowerment Coordinator at the PowerHouse Project, and a full-time doctoral student in health services research. Co-Chair of BTAN Charlotte, Darrin has nine years of experience working in community engagement, HIV prevention, and research with Black gay and bisexual men, and transgender women. His previous experiences include being a Project Coordinator and an ducation Department Manager at Metrolina AIDS Project, a Senior Prevention Coordinator at Carolinas CARE Partnership and doing HIV-prevention research at UNC Charlotte. He is also a co-chair on the Mecklenburg County HIV/AIDS Council, steering committee member of the North Carolina Black MSM Initiative, a member of the NC HIV Prevention and Care Advisory Committee. Yet he still finds time to be a chapter leader in the House of Blahnik, Inc, a national services organization focused on improving the conditions young people experience and live through social support and the arts. Darrin is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University with a B.S. in Mass Communication. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Keller Graduate School.

Ron Simmons, CEO/President of Us Helping Us, People Into Living Inc. (UHU), a gay men’s organization which has grown from a grassroots empowerment organization to a service health organization under his leadership. With Simmons at the helm, UHU also became the first gay-identified AIDS agency in the country to purchase a building for its headquarters and service facility. Previously Simmons was a professor at Howard University, during which time he earned a PhD in Mass Communications. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies, Master of Arts in African Studies, Master of Sciences in Educational Studies—all from the State University of New York at Albany. Simmons is a member of the Metropolitan Washington Regional HIV Health Services Planning Council, the Executive Committee of the D.C. Mayor’s Advisory Committee on LGBT Affairs and the D.C. Board of Medicine and has served as a member of the D.C. HIV Prevention Community Planning Committee. The New York native is a published author many times over. Simmons will be retiring at the end of the year and plans to stay active writing grants, his memoir and studying African culture.

April Eugene is a Philadelphia-based writer.

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