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The January/February 2016 issue of POZ magazine is online.

Here's an excerpt from my editor's letter:

Some of us have the luxury of being able to choose how to identify racially, but based on our appearance, most of us do not. As a result, society labels us and we then label each other. Those labels carry assumptions and lead to consequences. For black people, those consequences too often can be deadly.

The Black Lives Matter movement was born out of frustration with those deadly consequences. Although the deaths of black people at the hands of police remain a focus of the movement, the idea of confronting violence committed against black bodies in general has expanded its scope of advocacy.

Our cover guy, Ashton P. Woods of Black Lives Matter Houston, is a great example. As an HIV-positive gay black man, Ashton brings all those identities to the table. Black Lives Matter activists are now finding common cause in fighting violence and related issues like HIV. Click here to read more about the intersections of both movements.
To read my complete letter from the editor, click here.
From left: Sa'id Abdur-Rahman, Lisa Evers,
Rosie Perez, Glenda Smith, Oriol Gutierrez

Bridging Access to Care (BAC, formerly known as the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force) was kind to honor POZ at its 2015 World AIDS Day event with an award for excellence in journalism. I was humbled to accept on behalf of POZ.

BAC also honored actress and activist Rosie Perez, a Brooklyn native, with a humanitarian award for her longtime support of people with HIV/AIDS. She gave an emotional acceptance speech that didn't leave a dry eye.

Mistress of ceremonies was FOX-5 NY news reporter Lisa Evers. In addition to BAC staff and supporters, also in attendance at the event were New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and other local politicians.

The event was a fundraiser benefiting BAC's supportive housing programs, which have proven vital for those who have been helped. Sa'id Abdur-Rahman, a former BAC client who went on to earn a master's degree, gave moving testimony.

Guest speaker Jennifer Flynn, executive director of VOCAL-NY, further educated and inspired the event attendees as to the importance of housing for people with HIV/AIDS. Glenda Smith, BAC executive director, presented the awards.

I was deeply moved by the passion of BAC's supporters for its mission, which is to provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance use related services to underserved communities.

Thanks again to BAC for honoring POZ and our ongoing work to serve as a mirror for the HIV/AIDS community.

Watch video of the event:
The December 2015 issue of POZ magazine is online.

Here's an excerpt from my editor's letter:

The honorees on the 2015 POZ 100 list are fellow long-term survivors. Diagnosed with HIV in 1995 or earlier, they all were living with the virus before effective treatment. Most of them got HIV as adults, but some of them seroconverted as teenagers and a few were born with the virus.

In addition to sharing all that comes with living with the virus, they also share a commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS. They aren't meant to be the definitive group of long-term survivors, but they're a great representative subset. They come from across the country and all walks of life.

The POZ 100 honorees on our cover--Fred Hersch, Luna Luis Ortiz, Erin Secker, Lolisa Gibson-Hunte and Ron Simmons--are fine examples from the list. They show the diversity of the list while representing its commonalities. Click here to read about them and the other honorees.
To read my complete letter from the editor, click here.
The October/November 2015 issue of POZ magazine is online.

Here's an excerpt from my editor's letter:

Being a gay man in uniform back then was difficult enough, but being HIV positive made me want to leave. I'm not the only one. According to a report from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, about half of those service members diagnosed with HIV eventually leave. The report doesn't shed light on why, but stigma and discrimination are my most likely suspects.

Despite great strides forward by the U.S. military--abolishing racial discrimination, advancing roles for women and ending "don't ask, don't tell"--only recently has improving the circumstances of those serving while HIV positive made the radar...

In honor of Veterans Day, click here to read about our cover gal, Heather Arculeo, a former Marine; Michael Subra, a current Coast Guard recruiter; Aaron Laxton, an Army veteran; and other service members, past and present, who are living with HIV.
To read my complete letter from the editor, click here.
I'm happy to highlight an NPR interview featuring two very deserving HIV/AIDS advocates -- Mark S. King (a POZ blogger and a 2011 POZ 100 honoree) and Guy Anthony (a POZ blogger and a 2014 POZ 100 honoree).

In the wake of the recent HIV outbreak in Indiana (click here for an in-depth article by former POZ editor-in-chief Walter Armstrong on the aftermath of that outbreak), NPR wanted to get an update on the epidemic in general.

Mark, as a long-term survivor, and Guy, as someone diagnosed two decades after Mark, offer their respective insights. It comes as no surprise to me that both cite stigma as a persistent obstacle for people living with the virus.

From the interview:

"It's my firm belief that as medications have improved, and as the lives of those of us with HIV have improved, social stigma has risen," King says. "In the early years, we were doing everything we could just to help the dying, and there was no time to point fingers or blame or judge people ...

"Now, if you were to test positive today, how did that happen? What a disappointment you are. Why weren't you listening to all these prevention messages that we've been giving you all these years? You must be a terrible person."

That rings true for Anthony.

"I was more so afraid of the stigma attached to the disease than the actual disease," he says. "You know, because every day I have to sort of wake up and deal with the fact that I am a black gay man in America. And that's difficult in itself. So, to add, HIV positive serostatus onto that, it can be a lot."

Please listen to the full interview.

The September 2015 issue of POZ magazine is online.

Here's an excerpt from my editor's letter:

Fighting for justice was and still is what superheroes represent.

Despite not really knowing the source material, I did love watching Saturday morning cartoons, especially Super Friends, which featured Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. Their aggression was trumped by their teamwork (and their skintight outfits).

The Undetectables--a new program from New York City's Housing Works that helps participants reduce their viral loads--taps into that superhero spirit. The program uses a comic book series to educate participants about HIV treatment adherence. That series was the inspiration for our cover.

The Undetectables comic books include fictional characters, but our cover and the accompanying feature article include real participants in the program. Click here to read how London Gray, Benjamin Ball, Adonis Porch and Ervin Rogers are lowering their viral loads without superpowers.
To read my complete letter from the editor, click here.


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