Post submitted by HRC HIV & Health Equity Program Coordinator Dimetri O'Brien
For many living with HIV, this year’s World AIDS Day theme is one that resonates in the work of community-led organizations by and for people living with or affected by HIV. Announced by the Joint United Nations (U.N.) Programme on HIV & AIDS, World AIDS Day 2019 is dedicated to celebrating the ways that “communities make the difference.”
“The strong advocacy role played by communities is needed more than ever to ensure that AIDS remains on the political agenda, that human rights are respected and that decision-makers and implementers are held accountable,” UNAIDS said in a release.
This year, HRC Foundation’s HIV & Health Equity Program is celebrating the story of Housing Works, a community-led organization fighting to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through fierce advocacy, provision of services and social enterprise-businesses that sustain its work.
Founded in 1990 by four members of ACT UP, Housing Works is dedicated to serving the growing number of homeless people living with HIV and AIDS in New York City. Today, Housing Works is a major part of advancing health equity and ensuring no one is left behind in the fight for equality in New York. It has helped more than 30,000 people.
Housing Works offers health care services such as primary care, dental care and case management for legal services and housing. The organization even sponsors local house and ballroom community events, including “Kiki” balls for LGBTQ youth. Kiki Ballroom is a subculture of mainstream house and ballroom culture that caters to youth with a focus on support and public health.
“Becoming active in the ballroom community gives youth an outlet for talent as well as art that many not be otherwise cultivated in hetero-normative spaces,” Care Navigator and Phlebotomist Yohon Tatum (Legendary YoYo Milan) told HRC. “It also gives them access to navigation for care, treatment and prevention while building family and lasting relationships and a safe space to congregate with peers.” Tatum also works as a ballroom community mentor.
Looking to the future, Housing Works is focused on cultivating and diversifying its leadership base and expanding its available services to better meet the needs of clients.
This World AIDS Day, HRC is proud to celebrate Housing Works’ life-saving legacy for people living with HIV in New York.
HRC is committed to working with our allies, partners, members and supporters to end the HIV & AIDS epidemic and the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS. Learn more about HRC Foundation’s work here.