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THANK YOU! Charlotte Pride extends a special thank you to all of our sponsors and partners. Your generous support allowed us to serve our community throughout 2021.

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inside this issue

Nov. 12 - Nov. 25, 2021 Vol 36 No 15

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contributors this issue

Writers: Chris Rudisill, David Aaron Moore, Gregg Shapiro, Joey Amato, Lainey Millen, L’Monique King, Mary Frances, Terri Schlichenmeyer

front page

Graphic Design by Tommie Pressley Photography/Illustration: Freepik Mission:

The focus of QNotes is to serve the LGBTQ and straight ally communities of the Charlotte region, North Carolina and beyond, by featuring arts, entertainment, news and views content in print and online that directly enlightens, informs and engages the readers about LGBTQ life and social justice issues. Pride Publishing & Typesetting, Inc., dba QNotes P.O. Box 221841, Charlotte, NC 28222 ph 704.531.9988 fx 704.531.1361

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Material in qnotes is copyrighted by Pride Publishing & Typesetting © 2021 and may not be reproduced in any manner without written consent of the editor or publisher. Advertisers assume full responsibility — and therefore, all liability — for securing reprint permission for copyrighted text, photographs and illustrations or trademarks published in their ads. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers, cartoonists we publish is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or photographs does not indicate the subject’s sexual orientation. qnotes nor its publisher assumes liability for typographical error or omission, beyond offering to run a correction. Official editorial positions are expressed in staff editorials and editorial notations and are determined by editorial staff. The opinions of contributing writers and guest columnists do not necessarily represent the opinions of qnotes or its staff. qnotes accepts unsolicited editorial, but cannot take responsibility for its return. Editor reserves the right to accept and reject material as well as edit for clarity, brevity.

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Well-known Wesley Thompson has touched countless lives by his love for his career and and the LGBTQ Community.

Hope for a Cure after 40 Years Nationally known HIV Specialist, Wesley Thompson Recognized for his work Developments of the HIV/ AIDS Treatment

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Out In Print Leonard, Larry and Tim

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Our People:

Meet J. Donte Prayer, busy HIV provention advocate all while balancing a personal life.

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Pride Journey Free HIV Testing Locations Our People

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Collegiate Organizations release ‘Absolute worst c ampuses for LGBTQ youth‘ Spiritual Reflections

events

charlotteobserver.com/1166/ a local news partner of The Charlotte Observer

Charlotte’s Wesley Thompson named America’s top PA for 2021

20 Remembering When I Wasn’t My Mom’s Oldest Child

World AIDs Day Events (See page 28)

life,

positively

Special world’s AID’s Day section starts on page 14

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views

Collegiate Organization Releases ‘Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth’ Charlotte-based Campus Pride Examines 180 Schools Across US

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he organization Campus Pride has officially released their 2021 Worst List, naming 180 campuses across the country as “the absolute worst, most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ youth.” The colleges and universities included in this year’s list have either received or applied for a Title IX religious exemption to openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth, or they have a demonstrated history of anti-LGBTQ policies, programs and practices. In March of 2021, 33 LGBTQ students and alumni from 29 campuses filed a classaction lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education demanding that they stop granting religious exemptions to tax-payer-funded religious colleges and universities that discriminate against and abuse their LGBTQ students. In 2019, 41 campuses filed an amicus brief in Bostock v. Clayton County, voicing their support for employment discrimination at religious institutions for LGBTQ employees. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case last year determining that discrimination against gay and transgender workers is unlawful and violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “Campus Pride was founded 20 years ago with a vision of campuses and a society free of anti-LGBTQ prejudice, bigotry and hate,” says Shane Windmeyer, Founder and Executive Director of Campus Pride, “And while much progress has been made since then, clearly there remains a lot more work to do as we develop and train future leaders to create safer, more inclusive communities on campuses. “This is the most exhaustive update to our annual ‘Worst List’ since 2016,” Windmeyer continues, “There are more than 50 new campuses added this year, in part because of the lack of updates in filing procedures since the Trump Administration’s Department of Education told campuses they did not have to apply for Title IX religious exemptions to openly discriminate against LGBTQ people. The Biden Administration has yet to clarify this DOE memo or mandate that a campus must apply for Title IX to discriminate based on religious beliefs.”

BY: QNOTES STAFF program, and for suggesting that BYU professors needed to use their “musket fire” against LGBTQ ideology rather than directing “friendly fire” against the church. Malone University qualified for the Worst List after an associate professor was forced to resign after telling the administration that she would be getting married to a woman. In an email sent to the student body, the university shares how the professor was in violation of Malone’s religious beliefs and their Community Agreement for Sexual Conduct, which states, “sex should be exclusively reserved for the marriage relationship, understood as a legal, lifelong commitment between a husband and wife.” College of the Ozarks filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, arguing that the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, “requires private religious colleges to open up female showers, restrooms, and dorm rooms to biological males who assert a female gender identity.” College of the Ozarks is on the list as one of the worst, most dangerous colleges for LGBTQ youth. Lee University is also mentioned in this year’s Worst List because of a past and recent record of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and because they specifically argued as a part of a 2019 amicus brief in Bostock v. Clayton County to allow employment discrimination against gay and transgender employees of religious institutions. In September of this year, Lee University removed “gender identity” from the campus antidiscrimination policy. For the full list of the 180 worst, most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ youth in the country, please visit www.campuspride. Brigham Young University is included on the Worst List because the school’s former president denounced valedictorian org/worstlist and find more deMatt Easton, seen here, for coming out during his commencement speech. (Photo Credit: Matt Easton/Facebook) tails about how these campuses intentionally create an unsafe Brigham Young University is Shameful mentions from this year’s Worst campus environment by openly included on the Worst List because former List include Baylor University for its past discriminating against LGBTQ people. President of the University, Elder Jeffrey and recent history of anti-LGBTQ discriminaProspective students and families who Holland, denounced LGBTQ+ students, tion and because it is one of the campuses are looking for LGBTQ-friendly campuses including Matt Easton’s heroic act of comnamed in the class-action lawsuit, Hunter v. are encouraged to visit the Campus Pride ing out in his commencement speech as the U.S. Department of Education, for abuses Index at www.campusprideindex.com. : : valedictorian of BYU’s political science to LGBTQ+ students.

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news Greenville’s LGBTQ+ Community Center and Wellness Clinic Opening

Greenville’s new LGBTQ+ Community Center and Queer Wellness Clinic is opening its doors. Staff and management are encouraging community members to help mark the historic occasion by attending the grand opening, complete with ribbon cutting ceremony and open house on Saturday, Nov. 6 from 11:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. at 30 Pointe Circle in Greenville. The event is sponsored by the Upstate SC LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce. “We are just one piece of a much larger message to the community that together we are capable of truly great things,” says Liz Serricchio, one of the co-owners of Amaryllis Counseling 864Pride, “I am grateful to the community for believing in this vision with us and humbled to be part of answering a very real need that will change lives.” “Greenville is my hometown and it feels surreal to be able to bring a much needed resource like this to the place I grew up,” explains Laura Davis, also a co-owner of Amaryllis Counseling 864 Pride, ”We have built

Franklin Graham Embarrasses NC

Franklin Graham, the son of the late Charlotte-based televangelist Billy Graham, has yet again taken aim at the LGBTQ Community, and this time he’s throwing stones at President Joe Biden as well. Neither comes a surprise, actually. Graham whole-heartedly endorsed Donald Trump during the last election and continues to support him, while he has continued to steer the remnants of his father’s legacy towards the fringes of the far right. It seems Graham is beyond upset with the Biden administration for issuing a U.S. passport with the gender designation “X” on it to Dana Zzyym, a non-binary individual (someone who does not specifically identify as male or female) on Oct 28. Graham posted on Facebook: “I hope countries will reject recognizing this passport and refuse the person carrying it into their country. The State Department is wrong. This is not truth or science. We only have two genders: Male and Female.” “Gender X is not only nonsense, it is going against God,” Graham continued, “The State Department is turning the American passport into a farce, not to mention flaunting God.” While it is unclear what Graham specifically means when he claims the Biden Administration is “flaunting God,” he didn’t end his outraged diatribe there. “Pray that those running our government will come to their sense[s],” he added, “Or be voted out of office.” Graham’s ranting – as one would suspect – serves two purposes: continue his effort to debase support for the LGBTQ community and to undermine President Biden by calling for anti-LGBTQ countries to refuse to accept a U.S. passport. Other countries around the globe, such as Canada and New Zealand, have already issued passports with gender expansive designations. In 2019 a United States federal

this space for the community with enormous help from the community and are ready to keep following our mission.” For the past two months, Pride Link, Amaryllis Counseling and 864Pride have been working hard to get the Queer Wellness Center (QWC) ready for the Greenville and surrounding area all of the LGBTQ community. “As a trans person who has lived in the Upstate my whole life and navigated the barriers in healthcare, employment and social support, I’m so thankful for all the community members and leaders before us who paved the way for this type of space to exist,” offers Ethan Johnstone, Pride Link’s Lead Community Builder. qnotes first reported on the development just after the lease was signed this past spring. “We signed the lease in June, [and] we moved into the building in September,” explains Keona Prude, the Communications and Outreach Director at the LGBTQ+ Community Center and Queer Wellness Clinic, “Now, we are so pleased to be opening this space to you and hope to see [everyone] at the grand opening and in the center after opening date.” info: bit.ly/3jZ0KVW — qnotes Staff judge ruled in favor of Dana Zzyym (after many years of litigation) that her passport should indicate she identified as non-binary, or intersex. As a result of that ruling, Zzyym became the first person issued a U.S. passport with an X gender marker yesterday. “I almost burst into tears when I opened the envelope, pulled out my new passport, and saw the ‘X’ stamped boldly under ‘sex,’” Zzyym said in a statement through Lambda Legal, “I’m also ecstatic that other intersex and non-binary U.S. citizens will soon be able to apply for passports with the correct gender marker. It took six years, but to have an accurate passport, one that doesn’t force me to identify as male or female but recognizes I am neither, is liberating.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed earlier in the year the U.S. would begin passports with X gender markers. The State Department has also confirmed the designation for passport applications in 2022. info: bit.ly/3bG2xeaW — David Aaron Moore

Non-binary individual Dana Zzyym (left) gets a passport with an intersex gender identification while Franklin Graham takes potshots at Biden and the LGBTQ community. (Photo Credit: Lambda Legal/Facebook)

Wednesday Night Live: There’s a New Way to Visit Some Charlotte Museums Free

The Levine Center for the Arts is bringing a new weekly event series to Charlotte that includes free admission to museums and concerts — and it starts this week. The Mint Museum, The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, The Harvey B. Gantt Center for AfricanAmerican Arts + Culture and the Knight Theater are partnering up with Bank of America on the series called Wednesday Night Live. Each Wednesday, guests will get free admission to the Mint, the Bechtler and the Gantt, along with special programming at one of the four Levine Center for the Arts institutions. (When there’s a fifth Wednesday in a month, there will be free admission without programming.) The series kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 5 to9 p.m. at The Mint Museum with a free Halloween-themed performance by the Youth Orchestras of Charlotte of night-themed compositions called nocturnes. In the future, event-goers can expect a variety of programming, including Brazilian dance performances, spoken-word artists and film screenings. Everyone attending indoor events must wear a mask, and the events will follow CDC guidelines and state and local regulations on COVID-19 protocols. The series is presented by Bank of America, which helped develop the program with the chief executives of each Levine Center for the Arts institution. “We believe in the power of the arts to help communities thrive and to create greater cultural understanding,” said Kieth Cockrell, president of Bank of America Charlotte, “Extending the hours and offering complimentary admission on Wednesday nights offers our community even more access to the city’s best art and programming.” This article appears courtesy of The Charlotte Observer. info: bit.ly/3k2pwEJ — Heidi Finley

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The Mint Museum, The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, The Harvey B. Gantt Center for AfricanAmerican Arts + Culture and the Knight Theater are partnering up on a new weekly event called Wednesday Night Live. (Photo Credit: Hearts Beat as One)


Hearts Beat as One Foundation Appoints Inaugural Executive Director

She has served as a City Host and on the Steering Committee of the Human Rights Campaign, worked with the Humane Society of Charlotte, Special Olympics, the United Way, Twirl to the World, RAIN, Watchmen of the Streets, Outreach Council of Charlotte and the Kaboom Playground Build. In addition to her community and philanthropic efforts, she is also a small business owner. The Hearts Beat as One Foundation announced Nov. 1 the appointment of the organiza“I have been beyond blessed in this life to be able to devote as much time and tion’s inaugural Executive Director, Bethany McDonald. Citing tremendous growth and community impact, the board unanimously approved the appointment. Founder Joe Davis will dedication to the organizations making the greatest impact for those who are in continue to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors. need,” said McDonald. McDonald posted the following to her Facebook page that same day, less than an hour The Hearts Beat as One Foundation strives to solve issues impacting at risk and before midnight: marginalized communities in and around Mecklenburg County. “It takes a lot to leave me speechless, but I truly have no words to express my gratitude for The organization actively seeks gaps in services and builds- programs intended to fosall of the amazing texts, messages, calls, and encouraging comments & support I’ve received ter the forward path of all persons and families in need of assistance, all while promoting as I accept the position and transition into the inclusivity and a loving environment for all. role of the Inaugural Executive Director of the “I am humbled and proud to represent HB1 HB1 Foundation. I am so proud of this organizaas the inaugural Executive Director, and I cannot tion and all of the work we have done thus far, find words to express how excited I am to both however, I’m even more excited about all the grow and develop new programs that are life incredible opportunities we have to grow and changing and assist those who are most at risk; expand our existing initiatives while still continusuch as our houseless, veteran and senior popuing to develop impactful, sustainable programs lations (amongst so many others).” as the future unfolds. Thank you to Joe Davis Recently recognized by the Mecklenburg and our entire Hearts Beat as One Foundation County Board of Commissioners for their work family for their love, patience, and support and over the past eighteen months assisting and for having the trust and confidence in me to take managing the transitional program for former the helm and drive this wonderful organization tent city residents, the Hearts Beat as One down all of the paths that lead us to those who Foundation will continue their efforts for families are most in need.” Not surprisingly, Davis had issued a stateand individuals in need of housing, those expement of praise for McDonald earlier in the day. riencing food insecurity, animal welfare services “We are honored to have one of Charlotte’s and other emerging community needs. The orgamost passionate and committed servant leaders nization will remain committed to putting forth as the first to take the helm of our organization in this capacity.” as much energy and time as needed to ensure McDonald has worn many different hats over that every being, two or four-legged, will always the past fifteen years and has garnered the trainbe afforded the best quality of life possible. Says Bethany Johnson: ‘I am humbled and proud to represent HB1 as the ing, experience and exposure that makes her info: heartsbeatone.org uniquely qualified to serve as Executive Director inaugural Executive Director…’(Photo Credit: Hearts Beat as One) — qnotes Staff of HB1.

Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

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Religion As A Tool of Oppression or A Harbinger of Hope Spiritual Reflections

by Rev. Mary Frances Contributing Writer

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ike some of you, I grew up in religious fundamentalism. It doesn’t really matter which brand. They all have commonalities. Fundamentalists live in closed systems where questions are discouraged. Thinking outside the box is forbidden, and radical acceptance of dogma is required. Outsiders are judged, othered, and divided into the two basic categories of the converted or the damned. At least, that’s the sort of fundamentalism I experienced. As we approach the annual observance of World AIDS Day, I recall the church and minister of my youth and his response to AIDS in the early 80s. A vivid, disturbing memory remains with me after all these years. From the pulpit, the minister preached that no one with AIDS would be welcomed through the doors of his church. Unknown to him, one of his flock already had AIDS. The person contracted it from their spouse who received tainted blood during a procedure at a local hospital. Eventually, they both died from complications related to the disease. One of their family members blamed “the homosexuals” for her loved ones’ demise. I wondered why they didn’t blame the administration or the culture which was too filled with hatred and fear to realize that HIV and AIDS was not limited to one very marginalized population. While more progressive countries with more compassionate leadership were building AIDS clinics, the U.S. lagged behind, mired in ignorance and bigotry. It took Reagan four years to publically mention AIDS. By then, the crisis was of epidemic proportions. Unfortunately, fundamentalists fueled the flames of fear, proclaiming that AIDS was a punishment from God. Homophobia ruled the day, and while that mindset still has a hold in some circles, I rejoice in sharing that not all religions or denominations continue to propagate prejudice in the name of what is holy.

Many self-proclaimed religious individuals have lost sight of common tenants of every major religion ever studied. We are called not just to love one another but to be kind to one another from a place of compassion. This is the thread that runs through all religions. Our holy task is to love one another. Religion is not the enemy, but it has been misused as a tool of oppression in many of our lives and certainly across time; however, many religious institutions now seek to cultivate a truly welcoming and loving presence in the world. They recognize the beauty of diversity and offer hospitality without any requirement that we leave pieces of ourselves or major parts of our identity at the door. While some religious institutions continue to spread prejudice and promote discrimination, distracting its followers from what is truly holy, religion in its purest forms will always point us in the direction of light and love and acceptance and compassion. It will always direct us to make this world a better place for all beings-especially those groups often targeted in the name of religion: LGBTQIA+, people of color, immigrants and asylum seekers. May those of us who believe in an ineffable presence in the world be harbingers of hope for our siblings who have been rejected or harshly judged in the name of religion. May we live into who we say we are as liberal religionists by modeling revolutionary love and kindness. I wish you blessings as you simply seek to be who you are in a world that often sanctions your truest self. You are worthy, and you are beautiful. May you be filled with hope and surrounded by love. Rev. Mary Frances Comer uses she/her or they/them pronouns. She is a Unitarian Universalist minister who graduated from the Episcopal Divinity School, a member of the Boston theological Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2012. She was the minister at Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church in Charlotte

Photo Credit: Mark Oliver

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life

Kalamazoo, Michigan Pride Journey: Kalamazoo

by Joey Amato Guest Contributor

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es, Kalamazoo is a real place! I personally never questioned its realness, however, I did see a ton of souvenirs with that slogan, so I guess that may be a question on some of your minds. Kalamazoo is located in southwest Michigan, not too far from Grand Rapids and Saugatuck, two destinations I reported on a few years ago. Kalamazoo is one of those cities that you may not know a lot about, which is actually really exciting for me. I love to travel to those types of destinations, so I have absolutely zero expectations going into the trip. I really didn’t know what to expect. This may make some people nervous, but I love going on new adventures. My guest Devin and I drove to the city from Indianapolis. We were running a bit early, so we decided to swing by the Lillian Anderson Arboretum for a quick hike and to see the beautiful fall foliage. The 140acre property is a private facility, owned by Kalamazoo College and can easily be passed if you aren’t paying attention, but once you enter the property, guests are drawn in by its natural beauty. We were lucky enough to have visited at the perfect time of year to get those Instagramfriendly photos of the beautiful fall colors. The goal of this trip was a fall getaway, so Devin and I wanted to indulge in all the fall activities humanly possible in two days. We stopped by Kalamazoo Candle Company located in the heart of downtown. Here you can either purchase the perfect fall-themed candle, or if you are brave enough, you can make your own. The homemade candles, which are very affordable, take about an hour to make. While you wait for your candle to settle, you can visit the dozens of quaint boutiques along Kalamazoo Mall – it’s a street, not an indoor mall. My candle was exactly what I was hoping it would be. I’m not sure what I put in it and will certainly not be able to recreate the scent, but I love it. Conveniently located a block from the mall is Radisson Plaza Hotel, a modern property complete with tons of amenities including multiple dining options as well

as a Starbucks. Check into the Upjohn Suite, a magnificent room consisting of a full living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom and two bathrooms. This suite was larger than my loft in Indy. The property offers a huge pool, fitness center and sauna and really is in the heart of downtown. Almost every activity we had planned was a quick 5-10 minute walk from the hotel. Kalamazoo loves its beer, and Bell’s Brewery is one of the local favorites. Although not gay-owned, the brewery is a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community as well as the local pride events. If you visit, make sure you check out the gift shop and ask for one of their rainbow beer sweatshirts. You can either grab a quick bite at Bell’s or head back over to the Mall where you will find an Italian restaurant called Rustica. Devin began his meal with an incredible Wedge Salad while I opted for the Braised Heirloom Beet salad with currant, hazelnut, ricotta and port glacé. My salad was so large I decided not to finish it as I wanted to save room for the main entrée, Bouillabaisse, a seafood

stew made with shrimp, scallops, mussels, salmon and potatoes in a delicious saffron broth. This is one of the items I always look for on a menu when I travel and is wonderful on a cool fall evening. It’s the perfect sharable entrée and this time was no different. We had to order extra bread to soak up the broth. We didn’t mind consuming that many carbs at dinner because we were booked on the Haunted History of Kalamazoo walking tour organized by Paranormal Michigan. The nearly two-hour tour snakes you around downtown to some of the city’s most haunted locations and buildings. You don’t get to go inside the buildings unfortunately, but the knowledgeable tour guide recounts stories of paranormal activity that have taken place throughout history, in some cases dating back to the 1800s. After a wonderful night’s rest back at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, head to Air Zoo, one of the most unique attractions in the Midwest. The Air Zoo is a Smithsonianaffiliated museum containing over 100 air and space artifacts. The experience begins with some of the earliest forms of

flight, including a Curtis Pusher from 1911. Guests journey on a chronological history of aviation, up until the modern age and space era. Some personal favorites included the Lockheed SR-71B Blackbird, McDonnell F-4E Phantom 2 and the Grumman Cougar. This is the perfect place for LGBTQ families as well. The staff and volunteers at Air Zoo have undergone extensive diversity training and are welcoming to all! After Air Zoo, head to Henderson Castle, a magnificent mansion completed in 1895 by Frank Henderson, a successful Kalamazoo businessman. The Queen Anne style house was designed by C. A. Gombert of Milwaukee, Wis. and constructed for $72,000, a lofty sum for the time. The castle is known as the Jewel of Kalamazoo and was voted one of the top historic inns in America. Guests can stay at the inn or visit for one of their popular murder mystery dinners. Henderson Castle also offers Sunday Brunch, Afternoon Tea and is available for private events. Before heading out on the town, grab dinner at Theo & Stacy’s, a family-owned Greek restaurant originally established in my hometown of Flushing, N. Y. , before relocating to Kalamazoo in the 1970s. The menu contains traditional Greek favorites including moussaka, grape leaves and gyros, but if you want to sample a bit of everything, try the Greek Combo Plate. No trip would be complete without visiting the local LGBTQ establishment. Club Vortex is technically located in Blue Dolphin restaurant, but on Saturday evenings, the restaurant converts into the hottest spot in KZOO. Devin and I arrived a bit early to get the lay of the land and meet some of the locals. The owner of the club introduced himself to us and asked us if we wanted to be the spotlight dancers of the night. The evening’s theme was wigs and heels, and even though we had neither, the locals still made us feel welcome. It was an unexpected memory that made this trip so much fun. To book your Kalamazoo gaycation, visit www.Orbitz.com/Pride. : :

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‘Allies: Real Talk About Showing Up, Screwing Up and Trying Again’ Out in Print

by Terri Schlichenmeyer Contributing Writer Allies: Real Talk about Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again” by various authors and writers, edited by Shakirah Bourne & Dana Alison Levy ©2021, Dorling Kindersley Ltd. $16.99 / $21.99 Canada

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ou’d do anything for your friends. You help them in school when they need it, or with a loan in a pinch. Your home is their home, and vice versa. You might share clothes with your friends, seats, secrets, and for sure, support, but what about people you don’t know that well? In the new book “Allies” by various authors, you start upright and on your feet. School has started and some kids – kids of color, queer kids, different kids – are struggling. You want to help, but you don’t know how to even begin. So now what?

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The first thing to know about being an ally is in the first chapter of this book: You will screw up sometimes. It’s not fun, it’s uncomfortable, and you can’t just dump your guilt back on whoever you’re trying to support. Instead, learn from it, and

get used to it. But wait. Can’t you help? “It’s complicated,” says Dana Alison Levy, the first author. You can loudly be an ally, but when it’s

Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

not your time to speak, then hush. Allies remember that pronouns are important things (see above: you’ll screw up), and when someone reveals their preferred name, an ally makes sure it’s used. Allies know that the letters “LGBTQIA” don’t stop at “G.” When they see someone with a disability, they don’t rush in and act like superheroes. They ask first if they can help, and they never see a disabled person as a “tool” to get extra privileges. Likewise, they don’t finish sentences for a stutterer and it should go without saying that allies are never bullies. Nope, they reach for understanding, and if they don’t understand, they can be schooled. Being an ally doesn’t stop at sexuality or disability, though. You can be an ally for women by standing up to misogyny. You can stand up by seeing color and acknowledging it. You can stand up and admit that there are things you’ll never experience. And sometimes, being an ally is knowing when it’s time to walk away... When it comes to being a better friend

to those who need one, you always want to do what’s right – but sometimes, right is wrong and arrrrgh! It seems like maybe you need something of an ally to be an ally, and this book can help. With straight talk but a light touch, “Allies” helps young readers dispense with the awkwardness of not knowing how to act, through reassuring stories meant to show that merely just showing up is a great start. The chapters aren’t long – some are told with artwork – and they’re as diverse as the writers themselves. They’re not preachy, either: each is told by an appreciative person who’s received much-needed support and others whose eyes were opened, giving readers the upbeat, forward-looking, I-cando-this feeling they might get in the eager moments before a march or a rally. That makes “Allies” a great first step for any progressive-thinking 12-to-18year-old who needs a good launch-point. Find this book, read it, and share it with your friends. : :


Leonard, Larry & Tim

An Interview with Gay Comics Legend Tim Barela by Gregg Shapiro Contributing Writer

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n the pantheon of queer comic strips, especially those that ran in LGBTQ+ publications, certain names instantly come to mind including Alison Bechdel (Dykes to Watch Out For), Howard Cruse (Wendel), Diane DiMassa (Hothead Paisan), and, of course, Tim Barela (Leonard & Larry). Barela, whose final comic strip ran in print almost 20 years ago, is celebrated in The Complete Leonard & Larry Collection (Rattling Good Yarns Press, 2021), featuring forewords by Charles Solomon and Andy Mangels, and an introduction by Barela (as well as blurbs from Chip Kidd and Bechdel). Beginning in 1983, Barela was able to incorporate subjects that still resonate today, including committed relationships, gay fatherhood, AIDS, same-sex marriage, gay priests, queer offspring, and finding connection (see the part where bearded leather-man Jim bonds with his gay Texan lover Merle’s mother over opera). To his credit, Barela also manages to effortlessly pull of being meta on a few occasions. All of this and more make this book a must- have. Tim was kind enough to answer a few questions about his career in autumn 2021. Gregg Shapiro: Tim, I’d like to begin with the basics. When did you become aware of your talent for drawing and visual art? Tim Barela: I just always drew as a kid. I never knew a time when I wasn’t interested in drawing or understood the basics of art. It came naturally. When I got to grade school, what I couldn’t understand was that most other kids didn’t get it the way I did. That all they could do was draw clunky stick figures and worse. That they didn’t grasp the mechanics of drawing shapes and shading and perspective. I guess, for me, it was just instinctive somehow. GS: Who were some of your influences when it came to illustrating comics? TB: Most influential was what I saw on TV and in newspaper funny pages. But as far as the development of my personal style, I think the most significant influence was a cartoonist named - if I remember correctly - Dave Berg who drew features in Mad Magazine. He had a realistic, cartoony style that I really liked and tried to emulate. GS: I can certainly see Berg’s influence. One of the things that stands out is the detail in your drawings, from rain on a car to the various shapes of noses to male pattern balding to fashions of the period.

TB: The funny thing about your pointing out the unique features of my various characters is that so many previous reviewers have always complained about not being able to tell them apart, who was who, that everyone looked alike. When I drew Leonard & Larry, I did try to make everyone individual and unique. Whether I succeeded or not is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. As far as fashion was concerned, I always thought I was really bad at it. Mostly, I don’t care much about fashion and barely notice what people wear. At least until I needed to pay attention for something I was drawing. GS: Seeing as how the characters age over time, as they would in, say, a novel, do you begin the process by writing an outline or creating a timeline? TB: I never do outlines or timelines. I just come up with characters and situations and figure out how they relate to each other. It goes from there. Everything about my storytelling just evolves organically. GS: Because Leonard & Larry was serialized, were there other serials, perhaps Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City (which you reference in the book) owing to the gay subject matter, to which you can see parallels? TB: Tales of The City was very influential as far as my storytelling goes. I regret to this day being such a gushing fan the first time I met Armistead Maupin at a signing at a bookstore in Belmont Shore in Long Beach. By the time Armistead came to a signing in San Francisco, years later, with me and several other cartoonists, the tables were turned. I had my own gushy fans to deal with. But yes, Armistead was a big influence. After all, I’ve never been a gag cartoonist. I tell stories. Stories with jokes and gags. That’s how my characters work best in my head and on paper. GS: How much, if any, of Tim is in Leonard or Larry, or any of the other characters for that matter? TB: There are a lot of different aspects of my personality in all my characters. Both Leonard and Larry. But Jim, Larry’s employee, probably has more of me in his character than any of the others. GS: Larry owns Larry’s Leather, a shop on trendy Melrose Avenue. Your recent book launch was held at The Barracks, a leather bar in Palm Springs. Would you please say a few words about your association with the leather community? TB: I’ve always been associated with the leather community. I used to be a real, Harley-riding biker, after all. I got my start drawing cartoons for motorcycle magazines, long before Leonard & Larry came along. And I’ve never been able to keep bikers, leather and the occasional bit of kink from creeping into my storytelling and cartoons.

GS: Your fondness for classical music also plays a role in the series. Are you just a fan or are you also a musician? TB: I’m just a fan of classical music. I always have been, ever since I discovered the genre as a ten-year-old with a transistor radio. I’ve had lots of musician friends over the years, but mostly pop and rock. I used to do art for album covers in the ‘70s and ‘80s. As a former voting member of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, I’ve attended the Grammys more than once. Music has always been a big part of my life. But personally, I have no musical talent or inclination to play a musical instrument, whatsoever. GS: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, with a surname such as Barela, you probably aren’t Jewish. And yet you have flawlessly captured the mishegas of Jewish co-lead character Leonard’s mishpucha. TB: [Laughs] you’re right, I’m not Jewish and never have been. But my family always had Jewish neighbors or friends, and I’ve had Jewish employers and editors. Jewish characters have always just been a part of my mix, and always will be. GS: The book closes with a new, 2021 four-panel comic by you, your first in several years. How did this come about? TB: My current editor and publisher, Ian Henzel, insisted that the story in my new book, which ends abruptly because the strip was canceled back in 2002 and no one else wanted to pick it up, needed to have a sense of closure. That the new book, as Ian put it, needed “a bow” on it. And he was right. And since my strip took place in real time - one of only three North American comic strips to ever do so, I can proudly say - and my characters aged, I thought it would be fun to do a sort of “where are they now” kind of cartoon to close the book with. To show that Leonard and Larry are still around, but, like the rest of us, they’ve both grown old. And yet, nothing about their relationship over these long years has changed all that much. : :

WANTED Danny Downs

I am looking for Danny Downs or his son, who would be about 25 years old now. We knew each other before. I moved to Atlanta in 1993. Please email me or call me with any information about Danny. Thank You FrankieLesterATL@aol.com 404-876-5111

Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

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This year, QNotes, looks at 40 years of the HIV/AID’s epidemic in the U.S. We have lost so many friends and family members. With this issue we find new hope in trials for a cure, a sister telas of losing her brother, we talk about new treatments and celebrate accolades for a leading Charlotte HIV medical provider.

Thank you to these sponsors for this special coverage

PRESENTING SPONSOR DUDLEY’S PLACE

J. Pierce, Executive Director said, “we knew the need existed, but we never imagined the exponential growth that occurred inn just 24 months.” Programing and offerings have taken off and have been focused on reducing barriers to care, preventing the spread of HIV, community education, and overall better health for the clients and community. We offer support in the form of Couch Talks, a buddy program, and individual, couples and group therapy. Nutrition is hugely important to an HIV client, so our full-time dietitian is here to help evaluate your habits and menu needs. This department also offers referrals to food pantries, an emergency food voucher program, grocery store tours, and Dudley’s Garden (a community garden) to produce fresh produce for our client’s art their visits. Housing and transportation are always brought up as barriers to care, so we are working hard to help eliminate that when possible. With an emergency Lyft system, we can help arrange rides to your provider

appointments. In addition, we have secured funding through HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS). This program can help with late rent, mortgage, or utilities. Prevention is on our radar, as is education. We have dedicated a full-time advocate to work on patient retention, serve a s new patient ambassador, facilitate outreach and prevention events and testing. Linking you, the client, to medical care and keeping you in care and suppressed is our goal. Providing all these invaluable services to HVI clients in our area take vision and funding. No gift is too small. If you would like to help us with this important mission, you can visit the website and donate online. Dudley’s Place is an official 501c3 entity, so your donations are tax deductible. We are always looking for volunteers and actively seeking Board Member applications for a 2022 term. You can learn all about us at www. dudleysplace.org or by calling us directly at 704-977-2972.

ROSEDALE

fective HIV/AIDS treatment and therapy medicines. From national to international drug trials and programs, we want to make sure we contribute to our client’s treatment and therapy needs. We have specialty and primary care physicians who are well-trained, highly skilled medical professionals with many years of experience in treating patients with HIV. Since our goal is centered on the wellness of our clients, rest assured, we provide the most relevant treatment for every case under our care. An on-site Walgreen’s pharmacy, onsite laboratory, access to national and international research studies, mental health counseling, nutrition counseling, and patient advocates all make Rosedale Health and Wellness the clear choice to be your partner in health. And with our non-profit partnership through Dudley’s Place, we are positioned to be the leading health care provider for clients who live HIV positive.

With a staff that brings decades of experience and leadership in the field of HIV and AIDS work, we are uniquely positioned to share with you not only the latest in care and treatment, but the benefit of the knowledge gained, and lessons learned since the beginning of the epidemic. Fast and easy appointment scheduling, patient advocates, an onsite laboratory, clinical research trials, access to support services through Dudley’s Place, and a Walgreens pharmacy on site makes Rosedale Health and Wellness your one stop shop for healthcare. Our unique approach to treatment and our varied team members also are attracting folks from the LGBTQA+ community to seek us out for general medicine and preventative care. We look forward to having you as part of our family. You can find out more about us at our website www.myrosedalehealth.com or by calling us directly at 704-948-8582

Founded in 2019 by Dr. Frederick Cruickshank, Medical Director at Rosedale Health and Wellness, Dudley’s Place was created to meet the growing needs of HIV positive patients in the Charlotte region and to provide HIV prevention to the community. Dudley’s Place operates on five core values: Respect, Empowerment, Collaboration, Diversity, and Advocacy. Named after his best animal friend, Dr. Cruickshank’s goal for Dudley’s Place is to provide love and support to clients like Dudley (the puppy) provided him- “Your new best friend”. I wanted to create a nonprofit arm of Rosedale Health and Wellness to provide an extra layer of support to ensure that the clients were not only medically compliant and healthy but also have a complete support system where they had a “best friend” they could rely on “, said Cruickshank. In just 2 short years, Dudley’s Place ahs enrolled and served over 650 clients! Dale

Rosedale Health and Wellness was established in 2006 and in that 15-year span has become the destination care facility for HIV and AIDS in the Carolinas. Our vision is to be the unmatched leader in improving healthcare and reducing the barriers to health care for people in the communities we serve. We can serve all clients’ general medical needs and accept new clients for primary care, specialty care, or both. Rosedale makes it a priority to treat the entire patient, not just the symptoms or disease. Still offering the highest and most innovative treatment plans for HIV/AIDS, we aim to reduce your barriers to better health. At Rosedale Health & Wellness, we specialize in providing the best and most comprehensive treatment and therapy for HIV/AIDS. We run clinical trials that are reliable using the latest, cutting-edge technology, protocols, and the most ef-

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RED RIBBON SPONSOR Affinity Health Center has provided compassionate HIV prevention and care services for more than 20 years. Affinity Health Center is a non-profit, community health center located in Rock Hill, SC that provides patient-centered healthcare, including HIV and Hepatitis C treatment, PrEP and support for accessing PrEP, hormone replacement therapy, primary care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment

for opioid use disorder, and dental care on a sliding fee scale, regardless of insurance status. Affinity provides free testing for HIV (including self-test kits that can be mailed to you at no cost), Hepatitis C, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Affinity also provides pharmacy services with access to low- cost medications, HIV peer support, financial assistance programs for people living with HIV, diabetes support, and case manage1

Amity Medical Group is a 501(c)3 non-profit independent family medicine practice that proudly serves the Charlotte community in 3 convenient locations. It is our mission to provide patient-centered team-based care with excellence in quality, services, and access to all despite any barriers, stigma, socioeconomic or health disparity. We specialize in primary and chronic care, including the best regional HIV specialists, transgender care, access to PrEP, diabetes specialists, and preventative care

services. We offer on-site labs, on-site radiology, and on-site pharmacy. Amity Medical Group is trusted by patients, a valued community partner, and a creator of positive change for all people. We provide a caring and welcoming environment to enhance quality of life by bridging the gaps in patient care through connections, innovative services, and patient empowerment so that our patients may achieve their full potential of health and well-being.

Our story began 12 years ago when our founder and visionary, Dr. Amina Abubakar had a vision of how pharmacists can deliver quality patient care in the community setting. Her drive and passion for the profession has led her to making Avant Pharmacy and Wellness Center one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial Pharmacy locations in the country. Now, with three locations all associated with a medical provider’s office, the team

RAIN empowers persons living with HIV and those at risk to be healthy and stigma free and is one of the largest HIV nonprofits in the Carolinas providing direct client support. Through 11 core services and programs, RAIN educates and advocates for all people living with HIV and to work for a greater understanding of how it affects everyone regardless of race, gender, immigration status, and sexual orientation. RAIN’s services include: • Medical Case Management • Empowering Positive Youth (EPY) • Early Intervention Services (EIS) • Health Insurance Assistance

at Avant Pharmacy and Wellness Center is ready to meet any of our patient’s needs. ` Our Mission is to enhance the quality of life by bridging the gaps in patient care through connections, innovative services, and patient empowerment and our Vision to create an innovative patient centered medical community that transforms healthcare delivery in the U.S. globally.

• • •

PrEP Program Counseling Services CREW (Community Resources for Empowerment & Wellness) • HIV/STI Testing • Research Studies • Support Groups • Awareness, Education & Outreach Prevention As a result of RAIN’s work, they inspire and empower more people to live, open more minds, and help break down HIV stigma. Learn, support and become engaged with our community by going to www. carolinarain.org.

40 Years of HIV/AIDS 35 Years of Telling the Stories

Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

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Hope For a Cure After 40 Years Human Trials for a Cure Approved

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orty years after the start of the HIV/ AIDS epidemic in the United States, more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the country, and there are more than 35,000 new infections each year. As of December 2019, the number of people in North Carolina living with the virus was 38,400 and in South Carolina was 20,334. Antiretroviral treatment, often known as ART, has drastically impacted treatment over the past decade, meaning that people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. While not a cure, ART keeps HIV under control and reduces a person’s viral load to an undetectable level. This means that people with HIV who are undergoing antiretroviral treatment have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex. It does not eliminate HIV completely, however, but recent news of a possible cure have many in the community hopeful. In a statement on June 5, President Joe Biden said, “Thanks to the tireless dedication of activists, scientific researchers and medical professionals, we have made tremendous progress to advance HIV research, prevention, treatment and care.” The U.S. has invested more than $85 billion since 2002 to support HIV programs around the world, including $250 million provided in the American Rescue Plan to address the impacts of COVID-19 on progress to fight against HIV. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given clearance for human trials of a “functional cure” of HIV. The CRISPR-based therapy, developed by Excision BioTherapeutics, Inc. is a unique gene therapy and is intended to treat individuals living with chronic HIV

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BY CHRIS RUDISILL who are currently using ART. According to a press release, the clearance enables Excision to initiate a first-inhuman Phase 1/2 clinical trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of EBT101 in people living with HIV. “Although antiviral treatments can manage HIV infection, they require life-long treatment, cause side effects, and do not provide the possibility of a functional cure,” said Daniel Dornbusch, CEO of Excision. Researchers at Temple University are in partnership with Excision to proceed with the clinical trials and commercialize treatments. Excision secured $60 million in investor financing in February, and in August Temple received a grant from NIH that will provide the team with $4.8 million each year for five years to support the team’s “CRISPR for Cure” project. CRISPR gene-editing technology is designed to target and eliminate HIV from infected cells. What is a “functional cure?” According to Elizabeth Boskey, Ph.D., “When most people talk about a cure for HIV, they generally imagine a drug or vaccine that would remove all traces of the virus from the body (referred to as a sterilizing cure).” Boskey is a social worker and adjunct lecturer at Boston University. Such a cure is highly unlikely for HIV. HIV quickly infects human T-cells, an important component of the immune system. The virus embeds itself into cells and tissues throughout the body, creating what’s called a viral reservoir. That reservoir is the greatest obstacle to an HIV cure, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). These latently infected cells are invisible to the body’s immune system. If a person stops treatment, the virus from the

reservoir starts replicating again. Stemcell transplantation, like that of the “Berlin Patient.” have resulted in positive results, but the NIAID points to how the risk, difficulty and expense of such treatments make this a highly impractical approach to curing HIV in most people. “A functional cure would not eradicate the virus but rather enable the body to stop HIV from proliferating without the need for further treatment,” states Boskey. Excision’s EBT-101 has been tested in nonhuman primates, which showed it reached every tissue in the body where HIV reservoirs reside. The biotech plans to initiate its clinical trial later this year, according to the press statement. Other research American Gene Technologies in Rockville, Md. is currently in Phase 1 human trials for a single dose, autologous cell therapy intended to cure HIV. The treatment is also a functional cure. In a statement from September, the biotech announced that the independent Data Safety and Monitoring Board found no serious adverse events from the treatment of a second patient and voted to allow AGT’s HIV cure program to continue without modification. “We’re putting viruses into their bodies that are going to specific cells and that are making very, very specific changes in a targeted way,” said Jeff Gavin, CEO of AGT in an interview with WUSA-9 in Washington, D.C. Gavin explained that the process included taking blood from a man with HIV to get to his infected T-cells. They then modified the T-cells to make them resistant and put them back into the patient. If all goes as planned, this should keep the virus from spreading. “We have learned so much about virus-


es, specifically about HIV, that we can now crack them open, scoop out their disease software,” Gavin said in the interview,“The HIV community has been waiting for a cure for so long.” At the Sanford Burnham Prebys (SBP) Medical Discovery Institute in California, researchers are trying a “shock and kill” approach. In a recent online panel discussion, Lars Pache, Ph.D. said that a treatment that awakens the virus might help actually eliminate it. “It may sound counterintuitive that you want to activate the virus if you’re actually trying to combat it,” says Pache, “It may sound dangerous. However, you need to consider that anyone who would undergo a treatment like this is also on therapy with antiretroviral drugs, meaning that even if these cells are reawakened – that the virus is reawakened – due to the antiretroviral drugs, this virus cannot spread. It cannot infect any cells. The only thing that happens is that these cells become visible for destruction.” Pache is the Research Assistant Professor for the Immunity and Pathogenesis Program at SBP’s Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases Center. The group’s new drug, Ciapavir, reactivates dormant HIV cells, making them a target for elimination. The team has completed preclinical studies and will now move forward into the safety and formulation stage before filing with the FDA for approval. This stage includes determining appropriate human dose and dosing strategies, identifying any potential liabilities or side effects and refining the drug for safety and tolerability in humans. Max Disposti is the founder and executive director of North County LGBTQ Resource Center, just a two hour drive from SBP’s research facility and brought together Pache, along with Raphael Rubalcaba, an HIV supportive services specialist with Advantage Healthcare Services and Allison Limpert, Ph.D., a scientist in cell and molecular biology at SBP for a discussion in May. Disposti understands why such news is important for the LGBTQ community, especially those in rural areas. “Not everyone in the U.S. has the ability to have specialized providers that are at the forefront of medication,” he said, “Many people who live in rural areas, where a diagnosis of HIV could be really devastating, and now you become the disease – you’re not a person with HIV, now you become an HIV person.” While robust prevention programs have created downward trends in HIV infection in many of America’s largest cities, rates are increasing in rural areas. In 2010, the two U.S. counties with the highest prevalence of HIV were both rural counties (Walker County, Texas and Union County, Fla.). And, the proportion of Black, Hispanic and other minority populations exceeds the nation in seven of the eight highest prevalence rural counties. In recent years, nearly 50% of all new HIV infections have occurred in the South with 40% of all new cases coming from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Disposti says a cure would help destigmatize HIV as well. People who are HIV positive often store drugs at the Resource Center because they fear coming out to their families. A functional cure for HIV could change that for thousands. : :

Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

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Nationally-known HIV Specialist, Wesley Thompson Recognized for his Work Named America’s Top PA for 2021

by David Aaron Moore qnotes Staff Writer

C

hances are, if you’ve been in Charlotte for a while you’ve heard of Wesley Thompson. He’s been around town for a number of years along with his partner, Trey Owen. The two made the decision to call Charlotte home in 1997. Thompson is well-known by his colleagues and in the LGBTQ community for his expertise and knowledge with HIV care and as the HIV Medical Director at Amity Medical Group. In a career that has touched parts of five different decades (and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon) he recently was nominated and received the 2021 America’s Top PA (Physician’s Assistant) award in HIV/AIDS treatment. “I was surprised that I was nominated,” Thompson offers, “I love what I do, but I was a little taken aback when I stopped to think I was chosen by a group of more than 400,000 nurses that collaborate on care and advocacy.” As for actually winning, Thompson’s

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Wes Thompson: ‘I feel honored and humbled.’ reaction is sincere and modest. “I am honored and humbled I was chosen,” he says. Coming from an expert so revered for his knowledge of treatment options for HIV, his reply may seem a bit understated. But that’s just Thompson. His top concerns and priorities are always with the patients.

Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

Reflecting back on his career, Thompson is aware of what led him to where he is today. While furthering his education as a grad student at Duke University Hospital, Thompson met his first AIDS patient there in the 1980s. “I watched a nurse refuse to treat him,” he recalls, “She

threw her badge down and said, ‘I refuse to touch those people,’ so I went into his room instead. “There was this small little guy, gay – and clearly not doing very well. Back in those days, the gloves you wore to take samples of blood were thick and difficult to work with, so I removed them and put my hand on his arm. “He was obviously nervous and very upset. When I touched him, he responded with, ‘Don’t touch me. I’ve got it. I’ve got AIDS.’ He was afraid he could somehow infect me just by contact,” Thompson recalls. He explained to the young man that he was gay, too. He was there to help, and it wasn’t possible for him to infect another person just by letting someone touch him. “When we were finished I told him I needed to go to class and I would stop by later and check on him; I pulled my respirator down, gave him a kiss on the forehead and told him I would see him after I finished supper. “By the time I got back, the room was empty. The charge nurse ran up to me and said, ‘I want you to know he told me what you did. You were the last person to touch


him, and actually treat him like a human.” Thompson confirms that from the beginning, when the first cases of AIDS were diagnosed, he was frightened. In the early years he would work with HIVpositive patients in intake, but would refer to them over to physicians for primary care. That would change when he encountered a young blond man who resembled someone he had dated previously, minus a substantial amount of weight loss. When he realized the patient and his former boyfriend were one in the same, he agreed to work with him directly. Medications prescribed to treat cases of full-blown AIDS during that time could often have a negative impact on an already weakened individual’s health. Drugs like AZT and pentamidine frequently left fragile and immune depleted patients feeling far worse than they were prior to treatment. “I remember during his sixth treatment he was shaking so badly I sat and held him. I had done that before, but this time the shaking stopped, and he just passed away in my arms,” Thompson recalls, “It was another one of those moments that was life-changing, and it made me realize I was somewhere I was supposed to be. I was needed.” Over the next twenty years or so, new drug treatments would become available. Eventually, combination “cocktail” medications proved to be successful, and led to the capability of suppressing an HIV-positive individual’s viral load to detectable. And undetectable means incapable of passing on an infection. “So we’ve seen patients go from this state of fighting to survive, to actually thriving, and living long, full lives,” says Thompson, who serves as the co-lead of Mecklenburg County’s Getting to Zero Campaign, which is designed to eliminate new HIV infections by 2030. “We have a cure,” says Thompson, “It’s knowledge. It’s called PEP, PrEP and TasP.” Thompson explains the concept: PEP means immediate Post Exposure Prophylaxis (drug treatment within 72 hours), PrEP is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (medication taken before potential exposure) and TasP (Treatment as Prevention, which means an ongoing regimen to prevent the possibility of infection). “I believe we can get there,” says Thompson, “If we can educate people so they use the medications we have, we can finally stop the epidemic in its tracks.” : :

Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

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Remembering When I Wasn’t My Mother’s Eldest Child A Look Back at 40 Years of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

(AIDS) and identified four “risk factors:” male homosexuality, intravenous drug use, Haitian origin, and Hemophilia A. Within two years [1983] of making its unwelcome appearance, AIDS cases in the still remember asking my mother what U.S. rose to 2,807 cases and 2,118 deaths. to tell a southern relative who called By 1983 AIDS cases had been reported in to offer condolences for my brother’s 33 countries. The year my brother Dennis death. “Just say it was cancer,” she replied died, 1987, he was one of 40,849 deaths of with a hushed and shaky voice, hoping the 50,378 Americans living with HIV/AIDS. to escape any accurate suspicions or The year 1987 also saw the introducjudgement of her first-born child, a vibrant tion of Zidovudine (AZT) becoming the young gay man. first anti-HIV drug approved by the Food My experience with my brother was and Drug Administration (FDA). At $10,000 for a one-year supply, AZT was the most in the late 1980s, and people still weren’t expensive drug in history – shining a light comfortable using the A word. It was an on health care disparities based on race utterance that was interpreted by some and social-economic background. as a mysterious disease brought to the Simply stated, when the FDA finally United States by migrating Haitians. came up with something the world hoped Early on it was referred to as GRID (Gaywould work in putting a stop to this disRelated Immune Deficiency, aka Gay ease, it wasn’t accessible to the majority Cancer). Later that year – in 1981 – the of the Black community, straight, gay or medical community gave it a designated otherwise. It seems like just yesterday name: AIDS. That was an acronym for when my brother mentioned how his Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. friend and famed photographer, Robert In 1984 the root cause for AIDS was Mapplethorpe, was looking into getting discovered: a retrovirus aptly named him access to the drug, AZT. Sadly, that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or never happened, HIV, a virus that led and Mapplethorpe to what was then succumbed to the an almost certain disease himself two case of full-blown years after my brothAIDS and, for an er in 1989. estimated 700,000 Two years prior Americans, death. in 1987, I watched But back in the my older brother, later 1980s (and Dennis R. Speight, often still today), the Jr., go from spirAfrican American ited Ashford and community my Simpson lip synchmother is part of was ing, disco floor spinless likely to acknowlning and an aspiring edge and claim this model to a frail disease, which was 29-year-old lying in primarily afflicting a hospital bed with gay white men. a stigmatizing red Black families, caution sign on his many with southern room door. roots, have historicalHis roommate ly struggled to accept was an Asian man of about his age whose family and friends family visited often. that were a part of The day I walked into the LGBTQ communitheir hospital room ty. Being afflicted with and looked past my a disease thought to brother’s bed to nocome from sexual tice his roommate’s activity between two empty one – was a men was doubly sobering day. It was stigmatizing. almost as surreal as Some believed the day my brother it was “proof” that seriously tried to call homosexuality was attention to longa punishable sin and deceased Marilyn spread by gay white Monroe, who he men. For others it insisted was standwas purely frighting behind me at his ening and dehubedside. manizing. For my HIV-associated mother, a victim of dementia occurs life’s most unnatural Dennis R. Speight, Jr., the author’s brother, died from AIDS-related causes in 1987. when the virus occurrence (a par-

BY L’MONIQUE KING QNOTES STAFF WRITER

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ent outliving their offspring) it was all of the above. Back then, I was my mother’s middle child, not her eldest. In June of 1981, Drs. Michael S. Gottlieb, Joel D. Weisman, et al., reported five cases of gay men with Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia, a rare form of pneumonia usually found only in severely immunosuppressed patients. The report was published in the June 5, 1981, issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). By the following month the MMWR reported 26 cases of Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS), a rare cancer, in gay men in both New York and California. Within a year, the United States had 771 cases of AIDS reported and 618 fatalities as a result of AIDS. In addition to cases in men – particularly gay men – cases of AIDS were reported in hemophiliacs and in a few women, infants, and recipients of blood transfusions. Transmission of an infectious agent through blood and sexual contact was strongly suspected. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) established the term Acquired Immune Deficiency syndrome


Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

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life,, positively spreads to the brain. As hard as that was to take and witness, there were moments when I wished I weren’t in possession of all my mental faculties either. Maybe, just maybe, the devastation wouldn’t have been so great. Like the month I attended one to two funerals each week and all the deceased were under 35 years old. Or the period of time when my mother began to bond and make friends with other mothers who also had “sick,” dying or dead children. It was a time in history I hope to never revisit for anything other than eliminating it. A time I wish I didn’t recall so clearly, when we knew so little about how HIV was spread. Infected and ill individuals were routinely ostracized in private, public and professional settings.

The June 3, 1981 cover of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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I personally witnessed that kind of behavior from far too many health care and social service professionals. Meanwhile, traumatized patients internalized stigma and many went through what we now know were extreme and unnecessary measures to keep loved ones “safe.” For my brother, it meant never holding my first-born child (born just months before his passing) and stocking his kitchen with a few dishes, cups and cutlery items purely for his use. That was nearly 40 years ago. Back in 1981, when it all started, so did the LGBTQ community’s mobilization efforts. Our community came together (initially with little to no support from outside entities) to help its own. One concerned group consisted of nine friends gathered at the home of writer Larry Kramer to address “gay cancer” and raise money for research. That meeting laid the foundation for what soon became known as Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). Within one year, GMHC set up the world’s first AIDS hotline, created the landmark Buddy Program to assist PWAs (People with AIDS) with their day-to-day needs and produced and distributed 50,000 free copies of its first newsletter to doctors, hospitals, clinics and the Library of Congress. Today GMHC has lots of help in the fight against HIV/AIDS. A host of organizations (including many that speak to the intersection of race and sexuality) have joined the fight. Organizations like Black AIDS Institute (BAI) now work independently and collaboratively towards ending the AIDS crisis. BAI was founded by three Black individuals: a gay man living with HIV, a gay doctor and a lesbian doctor. They

Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

care providers have established BAI in joined in delivering 1999 to mobilize inclusive services and educate Black with compassion and Americans about integrity. According to HIV/AIDS treatthe CDC, as the U.S. ment and care. continues to respond They envisioned an to COVID-19, inorganization that creased investments directly challenged in the Ending the HIV the systems of Epidemic in the U.S. oppression that (EHE) initiative are marginalize Black vital to regain mohealth and that mentum, advance inalso developed novation and achieve culturally specific health equity. programming to The EHE initiaaddress the unique tive is scaling up needs of Black four science-based people. With a strategies that can foundation in adend the HIV epidemic: vocacy and policy Diagnose, Treat, work, BAI works Prevent and Respond. towards improvFor maximum impact, ing the health and the CDC is continuing wellness of Black to invest in communipeople through reties most affected by search, community HIV – to help local HIV efforts and clinical programs recover, work. By and large, rebuild and begin to the face of HIV/ expand EHE strateAIDS has changed gies in the wake of from gay white Actor Billy Porter – seen here in a publicity COVID-19. The EHE men to gay Black image for the hit TV series ‘Pose’ –revealed initiative aims to men and straight his HIV status earlier this year. reduce the number Black women. of new HIV infections Organizations like domestically by 75 % in five years and 90% BAI are addressing that disparity head on. by 2030. Thankfully, humanity has made some In a recent statement acknowledging strides in the fight. City, state and federal the 40th anniversary of the appearance of agencies are on board with initiatives HIV, President Joseph Biden pledged, “To and campaigns while numerous health


help accelerate and strengthen our efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the United States, I have requested $670 million from Congress, an increase of $267 million over previous levels, to aggressively reduce new HIV cases by increasing access to treatment, expanding the use of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and ensuring equitable access to services free from stigma and discrimination. Despite the progress we’ve made, our work is not yet finished. In honor of all those we have lost and all those living with the virus – and the selfless caregivers, advocates and loved ones who have helped carry the burden of this crisis – we must rededicate ourselves to reducing HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. We must continue empowering researchers, scientists and health care providers to ensure equitable access to prevention, care and treatment in every community – particularly for communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community.” Currently, approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV. About 13% of them don’t know it and need testing. Though HIV is largely an urban disease, with most cases occurring in metropolitan areas with 500,000 or more people, the South has the highest number of people living with HIV. However, if population size is taken into account, the Northeast has the highest rate of people living with HIV. Fortunately, four decades after the first cases were discovered, free HIV testing is widely available, and medications like Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) can be prescribed without any out of patient costs for the uninsured.

According to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 36,800 new HIV infections occurred in the United States in 2019. Annual infections in the U.S. have been reduced by more than twothirds since the height of the epidemic in the mid-1980s. Further, the CDC estimates of annual HIV infections in the United States show hopeful signs of progress in recent years: New HIV infections have declined 8% from 37,800 in 2015, to 34,800 in 2019 after a period of general stability. Much of this progress was the result of larger declines among young gay and bisexual men in recent years. From 2015 to 2019, new infections among young gay and bisexual men (ages 13-24) dropped 33% overall, with declines in young men of all races, but African Americans and Hispanics/Latinx continue to be severely and disproportionately affected. So, here we are, 40 years later. Magic Johnson is still alive, confirming that HIV is no longer a death sentence. Actor Billy Porter is too, reminding us of what stigma is capable of and how much work we’ve left to do. Those of us who are old enough to remember the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic lost a little piece of ourselves with each loved one’s passing. But we’re still standing, the old Ashford and Simpson songs my brother used to dance around lip-syncing to, “Solid as a Rock.” And we’re ready to explain to our children about a time in history before medication to fight, treat and prevent HIV was available, to make it a disease of the past, like Polio or Smallpox. : :

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AIDS Service Organizations Providing a Vital Lifeline for Those Affected by HIV/AIDS BY LAINEY MILLEN | QNOTES STAFF WRITER

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he Carolinas has a variety of community organizations, resources and services for those living with HIV/ AIDS or those seeking to get involved in HIV/AIDS prevention, education and advocacy. In addition to these services, this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the following also provide novel coronavirus testing, healthcare support and other related services, in addition to vital information for prevention, as well as medical assistance for those who havebeen infected.

North Carolina ASHEVILLE Western North Carolina AIDS Project 554 Fairview Rd., Asheville, NC 28803 828-252-7489 wncap.org. Established in 1986. WNCAP provides case management, prevention and education programs, outreach, HIV testing and other services throughout Western North Carolina. In addition to its main office in Asheville, the group also has offices and a presence in Franklin and Shelby. CHARLOTTE Amity Medical Group East Charlotte 6010 E. W.T. Harris Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28215 704-208-4134 South Charlotte 10508 Park Rd., Suite 130 Charlotte, NC 28210 704-208-4134 amitymed.org. Established in 2015. Amity Medical Group provides fullservice, primary care medical treatment, as well as HIV/AIDS managed care under the direction of Dr. Richard Wynn and J. Wesley Thompson, MHS, PA, AAHIVS, DFAAPA. The practice also has an onsite pharmacy operating under the umbrella of Rx Clinic Pharmacy with Olivia Bentley, PharmD, CFts, AAHIVP as the director of clinical pharmacy services, provides free/confidential HIV testing, case management and prescribes HIV/ AIDS medications. Its offices are open to the community as a part of a collaborative effort to provide care and access to agencies and services outside its doors. Carolinas CARE Partnership 5855 Executive Center Dr., Suite 101, Charlotte, NC 28212 704-531-2467 carolinascare.org. Established in 1990 as Regional HIV/ AIDS Consortium. Carolinas CARE Partnership provides free HIV/STD testing and counseling, mobile testing unit, housing assistance, peer training, case management and other services, prevention and education.

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Dudley’s Place 103 Commerce Centre Drive, Suite 103 Huntersville, NC 28078 704-977-2972 myrosedalehealth.com/dudley. Established in 2019. Dudley’s Place is an HIV non-profit housed at Rosedale Health and Wellness. The mission is to enhance the overall care of Rosedale’s HIV population. Offering a wide range of services including mental health counseling, nutrition counseling, food and toiletries assistance, support groups, peer navigation, community education, free testing and transportation services. House of Mercy P.O. Box 808 (304 McAuley Cir.), Belmont, NC 28012 704-825-4711 (administration) 704-825-3000 (residence) thehouseofmercy.org. Established in 1991. House of Mercy provides housing and compassionate care for persons living with AIDS. In addition to room and board, House of Mercy coordinates medical care and therapies plus a variety of supplemental services to enhance the physical, emotional and spiritual lives of its residents. Mecklenburg County Department of Health 249 Billingsley Rd., Charlotte, NC 28211 704-336-6500 704-432-TEST (8378) bit.ly/2FpddQK. Provides testing, case management, awareness, education and other services at various locations, events and times throughout the county and year. The PowerHouse Project 1420 Beatties Ford Rd., Charlotte, NC 28216 980-999-5295 facebook.com/ThePowerhouseProject/. Established in 2005 under Quality Home Care Services umbrella. The PowerHouse Project is a drop-in center and safe space for Black and Latino gay or bisexual men or men who have sex with men. The group offers a computer lab, weekly empowerment programs and workshops, retreats for men over 25 years old, social events, monthly discussion groups for men 18-29 years old and free and confidential HIV testing, which is always available during hours of operation. The PowerHouse Project is a program of Quality Home Care Services. Quality Home Care Services 3552 Beatties Ford Rd., Charlotte, NC 28216 704-394-8968 qhcsnc.org. Established in 1992. Quality Home Care Services provides a variety of services for those living with HIV including case management, HIV/ AIDS prevention programs and testing,

substance abuse treatment, communitybased rehabilitation services for those with mental development disabilities and other services. RAIN 601 E. 5th Street, Suite 470, Charlotte, NC 28202 704-372-7246 carolinarain.org. Established in 1992. RAIN engages the community to transform lives and promote respect and dignity for all people touched by HIV through compassionate care, education and leadership development. Services include CARE Management, Peer2Peer support and outreach, support groups for youth, faith-based training, chaplain services and caring volunteers who provide practical support to persons living with HIV and AIDS. RAIN also provides HIV awareness and prevention education programs to thousands of people each year and is the only HIV non-profit in the Charlotte metropolitan area providing direct client services. RAO Community Health 321 W. 11th St., Charlotte, NC 28202 704-237-8793 raoassist.org. Established in 2017. RAO Community Health is a non-profit committed to providing awareness, support, and services for those living with HIV/ AIDS and other health disparities; along with providing prevention and education for those looking to protect their sexual health. Some of the services and programs include: PrEP program, support group for those living with HIV, and educational training for volunteers. RAO also provides housing assistance and toiletry pantry services for those in need with HIV. Rosedale Health and Wellness 321 W 11th St Charlotte, NC 28202 (704) 237-8793 myrosedalehealth.com. Established in 2006. Rosedale Health and Wellness is a full-service HIV/infectious diseases clinic that offers a variety of medical services. Staff, under the direction of Dr. Frederick Cruickshank, work closely with medical case management organizations and engage in clinical trials, among other services. It houses a Walgreen’s Specialty Pharmacy to support the needs of its clients and patients. Eastern PiCASO (Pitt County AIDS Service Organization) 3219 Landmark St. Suite 1B, Greenville NC, 27834 252-830-1660 picaso.org. Established in 1991. Starting as a grassroots organization focused on supporting those living with HIV/AIDS, providing buddy programs, See “Carolina AIDS Service” on page 26


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life,, positively nutritional support and healthcare advocacy, the agency changed over the years to a case-management-focused agency working with long-term client support. Currently, the group provides HIV testing, education and advocacy and emergency funding for those living with HIV/AIDS. TRIAD Positive Wellness Alliance 400 E. Center St., Lexington, NC 27292 336-248-4646 704 Brooktown Ave., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 336-722-0976 positivewellnessalliance.org. Established in 1992. Positive Wellness Alliance is a community-based organization that provides medical case management, financial assistance, life skills management classes, support groups and housing assistance. It serves Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Iredell, Rowan, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin Counties. Triad Health Project 801 Summit Ave., Greensboro, NC 27406 336-275-1654 501 W. Westwood Ave., High Point, NC 27262 336-884-4116 triadhealthproject.org. Established in 1986. Triad Health Project provides case management and other client support services, HIV testing and prevention outreach, medical, social service and legal referrals, food pantry and nutritional resources and education, support groups and education, art and exercise programs. TRIANGLE Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolina 1637 Old Louisburg Rd., Raleigh, NC 27604 919-834-2437 aas-c.org. Established in 1999. Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina provides case management, HIV/STD testing and counseling, emergency assistance for rent and utilities, transportation assistance, housing information and referrals, mental health, substance abuse and support group resources, referrals and programs. CAARE – The Healing Center (Community Action Advocacy Restoration and Empowerment) 214 Broadway St., Durham, NC, 27701 919-683-5300 caare-inc.org. Established in 1995. CAARE – The Healing Center’s mission is to provide effective prevention and case management services to at-risk persons and their families in Durham by referring health and social resources that can alleviate isolation yet foster independence; to empower the population with preventative health education, counseling, and testing by establishing and maintaining networks and utilizing resources that address the health and social needs of the community; and to provide decent housing that is affordable to low- to moderate-income people. COASTAL

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New Hanover Regional Medical Center 2131 S. 17th St., Wilmington, NC 28401

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910-667-7000 nhrmc.org/services/hiv-aids. Established in 1967. New Hanover Regional Medical Center provides comprehensive care for patients of all ages and throughout each stage of HIV, from acute HIV to latency to AIDS. Satellite clinics are in Whiteville, N.C., Jacksonville, N.C. and Burgaw, N.C. WESTERN ALFA 1120 Fairgrove Church Rd. S.E., Suite 28, Hickory, NC 28602 828-322-1447 alfainfo.org. Established in 1987. ALFA, formerly known as AIDS Leadership Foothills Area-Alliance, has provided supportive services to those infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS. ALFA currently provides supportive and medical case management, prevention education, and outreach to a nine-county service area. ALFA’s service area consists of Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Lincoln, Watauga and Wilkes Counties. SOUTH CAROLINA Affinity Health Center 455 Lakeshore Pky., Rock Hill, SC 29730 803-909-6363 affinityhealthcenter.org. Established in 1994 as Catawba Care Coalition. Affinity Health Center, formerly known as Catawba Health Care, provides primary care and specialist referrals, nutritional counseling, counseling and mental healthcare/services, dental care, case management and support, HIV specialty care and HIV/STD testing. It serves York, Chester and Lancaster Counties with satellites in Clover, Fort Mill and York, S.C. AID Upstate 13 S. Calhoun St., Greenville, SC 29601 864-250-0607 aidupstate.org. Founded in 1987. AID Upstate provides supportive services to people affected by HIV/AIDS in Anderson, Greenville, Oconee and Pickens Counties of South Carolina. Its medical needs are handled in partnership with New Horizon Family Health Services (Greenville, S.C.) and ANMED Infectious Disease Clinic (Anderson, S.C.). Careteam + 100 Professional Park Dr., Conway, SC 29526 843-234-0005 careteamplus.org. Established in 1993. Careteam provides supportive services for individuals living with HIV, including medical care, case management, HIV testing, counseling and education, risk assessment and counseling and screening in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties. Palmetto Community Care 3547 Meeting Street Rd., Charleston, SC 29405 843-747-2273 aids-services.com. Established in 1990s. For more than two decades, Palmetto Community Care (formerly known as Lowcountry AIDS Services) has been serv-

ing those living with HIV/AIDS in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties. It provides case management, access to medical care and housing, financial, nutritional and legal assistance along with other supportive services in the Charleston area. PCC also works to prevent the growth of the epidemic through education, media campaigns, community outreach and free, daily HIV/STD testing. PALSS (Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services) 2638 Two Notch Rd., Suite 108, Columbia, SC 29204 803-779-7257 palss.org. Established in 1985. Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services offers free services to individuals who have been diagnosed with or are at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, as well as providing support to its clients’ loved ones. It offers HIV testing, among other healthcare needs, along with support groups and adjunct assistance. PALSS maintains a food pantry for its clients. Piedmont Care Inc. Wells Fargo Building 101 N. Pine St., Suite 200, Spartanburg, SC 29302 864-582-7773 piedmontcare.org. Established in 1997. Piedmont Care is a non-profit organization providing HIV/AIDS care, prevention and advocacy in Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Union counties of South Carolina. CareSouth Carolina/Care Innovations 201 S. Fifth St., Hartsville, SC 29551 843-857-0111 268 Main St., Society Hill, SC 29593 843-378-3441 caresouth-carolina.com/care-services/hiv-aids/. Established in 1980. CareSouth Carolina, through Care Innovations, provides comprehensive HIV/AIDS primary health care for individuals in Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Lee and Marlboro Counties. These services are made possible through a federal Ryan White Part C grant. Patients can have a “one-stop shop” experience at CareSouth Carolina. South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council 1813 Laurel St., Columbia, SC 28201 803-254-6644 Established in 1994. The South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council works to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS statewide. It provides this through community mobilization, prevention, education and advocacy, while improving the quality of life for those affected by HIV/ AIDS.

Regional/Advocacy/Info AIDS Legal Project at Duke School of Law law.duke.edu/aidsproject/. The AIDS Legal Project provides confidential legal representation to low-income HIV-infected clients with legal problems relating to their diagnosis. Legal assistance is provided by law students under the supervision of attorneys. Hearts Beat as One Foundation 3110 N. Davidson St., Suite #229, Charlotte, NC 28205 P.O. Box 18232, Charlotte, NC 28218


heartsbeatone.org. Established in 2014. The Hearts Beat as One Foundation strives to raise funds and awareness for organizations and people based in and around the Queen City. North Carolina AIDS Action Network P.O. Box 25044, Raleigh, NC, 27611-5044 ncaan.org. The North Carolina AIDS Action Network is a statewide advocacy organization fighting for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, their loved ones and those at risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS in North Carolina. North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services HIV/STD Prevention and Care https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/stds/program. html NC Harm Reduction Network nchrc.org. The North Carolina Harm Reduction Network is a statewide grassroots advocacy, resource development and coalitionbuilding organization that provides direct services for a variety of issues, including drug use, sex work, immigration issues, genders, sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV. Planned Parenthood Various locations bit.ly/2zEFblq. Planned Parenthood’s various locations across the state provide safer sex education and information and HIV testing. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control HIV/STD Education and Prevention bit.ly/2NVkWHw.

National ADAP Advocacy Association adap.directory. Centers for Disease Control cdc.gov/hiv/. Government AIDS Resources hiv.gov. Help Stop the Virus bit.ly/32D2DfH. Health Resources & Services Administration Ryan White & Global HIV/AIDS Programs hab.hrsa.gov/. National Institute of Health aidsinfo.nih.gov. [Ed. Note: qnotes has prepared this comprehensive list of ASOs, etc., for our readers. To that extent, organizations and agencies may have been omitted. If readers will email editor@goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging. com with other listings (must have full name, address, phone number and website), qnotes will be happy to add them to the compilation. List accuracy and integrity are vital. Please report any errors or changes that need to be made.] Join us: This story is made possible with the help of qnotes’ contributors. If you’d like to show your support so qnotes can provide more news, features and opinion pieces like this, give a regular or one-time

Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

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Developments From The HIV/AIDS Treatment Frontier Monthly Injectables May Be an Option to Replace Daily pills BY: QNOTES STAFF

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arlier this year the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Cabenuva, a once-monthly injectable for the treatment of HIV infection in adults. The drug is provided as a copack with two injectable medicines, ViiV Healthcare’s Cabotegravir and Janssen’s Rilpivirine. Dosed once monthly, for many patients they offer a viable option to replace the antiretroviral (ARV) regimen for those who are currently HIV undetectable on a stable regimen, with no history of treatment failure, and with no known or suspected resistance to either Cabotegravir or Rilpivirine. Prior to initiating the injectable treatment, it’s been the standard to use an oral dosing of the drugs for approximately one month to determine tolerance levels.

Currently in trials, but expected to be approved by the FDA soon will be a similar treatment with the same medications, but dosed every other month. In June, Gilead submitted a new drug approval request to the FDA for Lenacapavir, a long-acting HIV-1 Capsid Inhibitor for the treatment of HIV infection in individuals with multi-drug resistant infection. Like Cabotegravir, Lenacapavir is in development for the treatment and prevention (see below) of HIV infection. The drug’s multi-stage mechanism of action is different from currently approved classes of antiviral agents. It is designed to inhibit HIV at multiple stages of its lifecycle and has no known cross resistance to other existing drug classes. Lenacapavir is currently being studied for an every six month injectable and a

subcutaneous implant. PrEP Injectables In trial and awaiting approval is Cabotegravir as an injectable PrEP (preexposure prophylaxis). The FDA has granted it priority review status and an FDA decision is expected by the end of January 2022. If approved, the drug would be the first long-acting (projected reinjection every two to three months) HIV prevention option and may be available as a suspension for patients to self-inject at home. Currently approved PrEP pills like Truvada or Descovy must be taken daily or before and after sex. Descovy, however, is only approved for men who have sex with men and trans women. It is currently not available for cisgender females. : :

World AIDS Day 2021 Events In-Person Observances Impacted by COVID-19

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aking part in 2021 World AIDS Day observances is, as last year, impacted by the global pandemic. Regardless, some events will move forward in-person, while others will be virtual. The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day, as established by the U.S. government, is “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice.” The United Nations’ AIDS global theme this year is “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.” Perhaps with new medications and guidelines, we will finally see such a result. World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988. Each year on Dec. 1, organizations and individuals across the world bring attention to the HIV epidemic, endeavor to increase HIV awareness and knowledge, speak out against HIV stigma and call for an increased response to move toward an end to HIV/AIDS. The continuing global COVID-19 pandemic has shown that no one is safe until everyone is safe. Those living with HIV are even more challenged during these times – so it’s important to remember when you’re wearing a mask during the current COVID pandemic, you’re wearing it for yourself and the many immune-compromised individuals out there who are at higher risk for health challenges. The list below includes various some of the ways the community can remember those lost and bring awareness to the cause of ending HIV/AIDS. RAIN World AIDS Day Luncheon Dec. 2, 11:30 or 12:30 -2 p.m. (subject to change) Charlotte Marriott City Center 100 West Trade St., Charlotte, N.C.

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BY QNOTES STAFF WRITER RAIN is moving forward with their World AIDS Day Luncheon in person. COVID precautions for the event will likely include a vaccine requirement for all guests, volunteers and patrons. The organization plans to continue monitoring regulations and recommendations on large event gatherings from local, state and national officials and adjust plans accordingly. House of Mercy’s Virtual World AIDS Day World AIDS Day raises AIDS awareness to support those living with and affected by HIV. Join House of Mercy for their virtual World AIDS Day reception on Wednesday, Dec. 1 to remember House of Mercy residents from 1991-2021, and to honor those affected by HIV/AIDS and the allies who support them. Times and virtual events to be announced. Visit their website for updated details. https://www. thehouseofmercy.org/news-events World AIDS Day Testing at Affinity Health Center Dec. 1, 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. 455 Lakeshore Parkway, Rock Hill, S.C. Walk-in testing is available for those seeking to know their status. Mail in (self-test, home test) HIV testing available. (*Screen by phone) affinithyhealthcenter.org. Extended Testing Hours for World AIDS Day at Piedmont Care Dec. 1, 8:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. 101 N. Pine St., Suite 200 Spartanburg Piedmont Care will be extending their hours of operation to give

the community extra time to get tested. Walk-ins are welcome. piedmontcare.org. World AIDS Day 2021 A National Conversation National AIDS Memorial Dec. 1, 9 a.m. The National AIDS Memorial will deliver its annual World AIDS Day National Observance to the nation through a virtual forum, bringing together powerful voices from the AIDS movement for an inspiring series of conversations focused on health and social justice, particularly among communities of color. Join us for a series of conversations presented throughout the day. Choose to participate online with the discussions you choose to watch or watch at your convenience, as all the discussions that are part of the conversation series will remain on our website. Some of our confirmed speakers and guests include: Dr. Anthony Fauci U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock Monica Gandhi, M.D., Professor of Medicine and HIV Division, University of California, San Francisco Paul Kawata, Exec. Dir., National Minority AIDS Council. Toni Newman, Interim CEO, Black AIDS Institute Leonard Valentino, M.D., President & CEO, National Hemophilia Foundation Suzanne Brennan Firstenburg, Curator, COVID-19 National Mall Installation The forum is presented virtually and can be watched anytime from the organization’s website Dec. 1, 2021. For more details, visit www.aidsmemorial.org/wad2021


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FREE HIV TESTING LOCATIONS Providing a Vital Lifeline for Those Affected by HIV/AIDS BY LAINEY MILLEN | QNOTES STAFF WRITER

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ccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many individuals have never been tested for HIV. In addition, the CDC states that of the thousands of new HIV diagnoses every year, many are likely transmitted by those unaware that they are HIV-positive. There are a number of free HIV testing sites across North Carolina and South Carolina. Many also offer testing for other STDs, as well as vaccines for hepatitis and HPV. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of the following agencies and testing centers also offer COVID-19 testing. Call for information on days, times and for information on all the services they offer. You can also visit gettested.cdc.gov to search for more testing sites in your area.

North Carolina CHARLOTTE Amity Medical Group 6010 East W.T. Harris Blvd., Charlotte 10508 Park Rd., Suite 130, Charlotte 704-208-4134 amitymed.org. Atrium Health NorthPark 251 Eastway Dr., Charlotte 704-446-9991 atriumhealth.org. Carolinas Care Partnership 5855 Executive Dr., Ste. 101, Charlotte 704-531-2467 carolinascare.org. Lake Norman Community Health Clinic 14230 Hunters Rd., Huntersville 704-316-6611 lnchc.org. Mecklenburg County Health Department 1500 E. 3rd St., Charlotte 704-432-8378 bit.ly/38hfcUi. Mecklenburg County Health Department Southeast Campus

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249 Billingsley Rd., Charlotte 704-336-6500 bit.ly/2qGKnkY. Mecklenburg County Health Department Northwest Campus 2845 Beatties Ford Rd., Charlotte 704-336-6500 bit.ly/2qGKnkY. Novant Health (Fee based) 1900 Randolph Rd., Suite 216, Charlotte 704-316-5330 bit.ly/36cVfLH. Novant Health Midtown Family Medicine (Fee based) 335 N. Caswell Rd., Charlotte 704-384-7980 nhmidtownfamilymedicine.org. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Charlotte Health Center 700 S. Torrence St., Charlotte 704-536-7233 bit.ly/2GIKJzV. RAO Community Health 321 W. 11th St., Charlotte 704-237-8793 raoassist.org. RAIN 601 E. 5th St., Ste. 470, Charlotte 704-372-7246 carolinarain.org. Rosedale Health and Wellness 103 Commerce Centre Dr., #103, Huntersville 704-948-8582 myrosedalehealth.com. Quality Home Care Services Inc. 3552 Beatties Ford Rd., Charlotte 704-394-8968 qhcsnc.org. Reserve Health (Fee based) 135 W. 10th St., Charlotte 704-626-3994 reservehealth.com.

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University of North Carolina at Charlotte Student Health Center 9530 Poplar Terrace Dr., Charlotte 704-687-7400 studenthealth.uncc.edu. Urban Ministry Center 945 N. College St., Charlotte 704-347-0278 urbanministrycenter.org. Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy 1500 E. 3rd St., Charlotte 704-526-4651 bit.ly/2zwQgVt. ASHEVILLE Buncombe County Department of Health 53 S. French Broad Ave., Asheville 828-250-5016 buncombecounty.org/Governing/Depts/ Health. Asheville VA Medical Center 1100 Tunnel Rd., Asheville 828-298-7911 asheville.va.gov. Eligibility requirement: Only open to veterans. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Asheville Health Center 68 McDowell St., Asheville 828-252-7928 plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic. Western North Carolina AIDS Project 554 Fairview Rd., Asheville 828-252-7489 wncap.org. Carrboro University of North Carolina School of Medicine 301 Lloyd St., Carrboro 984-538-1031 Appointment Only unc.live/2PomrRU. Chapel Hill Piedmont Health Services Inc. 127 Kingston Dr., Chapel Hill 919-933-8494 piedmonthealth.org.

Planned Parenthood Chapel Hill Health Center 1765 Dobbins Dr., Chapel Hill 919-942-7762 plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic. Orange County Health Department Southern Human Services 2501 Homestead Rd., Chapel Hill 919-245-2400 orangecountync.gov/health. DURHAM CAARE – The Healing Center 214 Broadway St., Durham 919-683-5300 caare-inc.org. Durham County Department of Public Health 414 E. Main St., Durham 919-560-7600 dconc.gov/publichealth. Gateway Campus, Durham 4113 Capitol St., Suite B, Durham 919-251-9444 https://gatewaywomens.care/services/stitesting/ Lincoln Community Health Center 1301 Fayetteville St., Durham 919-956-4000 lincolnchc.org. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Durham Health Center 105 Newsom St., Suite 101, Durham 919-286-2872 plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic. Samaritan Health Clinic-East 507 E. Knox St., Durham 919-407-8223 samaritanhealthcenter.org. Samaritan Health Clinic-South 3205 University Drive, Suite 107, Durham 919-407-8223 See “Free HIV Testing” on page 32


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life,, positively samaritanhealthcenter.org. Triangle Empowerment Center 931 E Main St, Durham, NC 27701 800-806-3558 triempowerment.org. FAYETTEVILLE Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Fayetteville Health Center 4551 Yadkin Rd., Fayetteville 866-942-7762 plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic. Fuquay Varina Hand of Hope Pregnancy Centers 607 N. Ennis St., Fuquay Varina 919-577-9050 yourchoicepregnancyclinic.com.

Guilford County Health Department 1100 E. Wendover Ave., Greensboro 336-641-3245 bit.ly/2T2TUzO.

Services- Carolina 1637 Old Louisburg Rd., Raleigh 919-834-2437 aas-c.org.

Nia Community Action Center Self Help Building 122 N. Elm St., Ste. 520, Greensboro 336-617-7722 niacacinc.org.

1st Choice Pregnancy Solutions 4237 Louisburg Rd., Raleigh 919-554-8093

Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency 1102 E. Market St., Greensboro 336-274-1507 piedmonthealthservices.org.

GREENSBORO

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Greensboro Health Center 1704 Battleground Ave., Greensboro 336-373-0678 plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic.

Alcohol and Drug Services 1101 Carolina St, Greensboro, NC 27401 336-333-6860, ext 250 adsyes.org/free-hiv-testing.

Triad Health Project 801 Summit Ave., Greensboro 336-275-1654 triadhealthproject.org. GREENVILLE Pitt County AIDS Service Organization (PiCASO) 3219 Landmark St., Ste. 1B, Greenville 252-830-1660 bit.ly/2Nz4NIT. High Point Guilford County Health Department 501 E. Green Dr., High Point 336-641-3245 bit.ly/2T2TUzO. Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency 401 Taylor St., High Point 336-886-6261 piedmonthealthservices.org. Triad Health Project 501 W. Westwood Ave., High Point 336-884-4116 triadhealthproject. org. HILLSBOROUGH Orange County Health Department Whitted Human Services Center 300 W. Tryon St., Hillsborough 919-245-2400 orangecountync. gov/health. RALEIGH Alliance of AIDS

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Gateway Campus, Hillsborough 1306 Hillsborough St., Raleigh 919-250-3950 https://gatewaywomens.care/services/stitesting/ LGBT Center of Raleigh 19 W Hargett St UNIT 507, Raleigh, NC 27601 919-832-4484 lgbtcenterofraleigh.com. Urban Ministries of Wake County Open Door Clinic 1390 Capital Blvd., Raleigh 919-832-0820 urbanmin.org. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Raleigh Health Center 100 S. Boylan Ave., Raleigh 919-833-7526 plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic. Wake County Human Services Division of Public Health and Clinics 10 Sunnybrook Rd., Clinic A, Raleigh 10 Sunnybrook Rd., Clinic E, Raleigh 919-212-7000 bit.ly/2JWiz4A. Wake County Human Services Millbrook Human Services Center 2809 E. Millbrook Rd., Raleigh 919-431-4000 bit.ly/2JWiz4A. Womens Center of Wake County Incorporated 112 Cox Ave., Raleigh 919-829-3711 wcwc.org. Your Choice Pregnancy 1701 Jones Franklin Rd., Raleigh 919-758-8444 yourchoicepregnancyclinic.com. WILMINGTON Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Wilmington Health Center 1925 Tradd Ct., Wilmington 910-762-5566 plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic. WINSTON-SALEM Forsyth County Department of Public Health 799 N. Highland Ave., Winston-Salem 336-703-3100 bit.ly/2RO7NA7. Nia Community Action Center Incorporated 1001 S. Marshall St., Suite 238A, Winston-Salem 336-293-8408 niacacinc.org. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Winston-Salem Health Center 3000 Maplewood Ave., Suite 112,


Winston-Salem 336-768-2980 plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic. Positive Wellness Alliance Winston-Salem Office 1001 S. Marshall St., Suite L7, Winston-Salem 336-772-0976 positivewellnessalliance.org. SOUTH CAROLINA Charleston Fetter Health Care Network Downtown Health Center 51 Nassau St., Charleston 843-722-4112 fetterhealthcare.org. Palmetto Community Care 3547 Meeting Street Rd., Charleston 843-747-2273 palmettocommunitycare.org. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Charleston Health Center 1312 Ashley River Rd., Charleston 843-628-4380 plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic. COLUMBIA Acercamiento Hispano de Carolina del Sur 87 Wild Wood Ave., Columbia 803-419-5112 schispanicoutreach.org. AIDS Healthcare Foundation AHF Columbia Grace Medical Group 3052 Farrow Rd., Columbia 803-933-0288 aidshealth.org. Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services of South Carolina 2638 Two Notch Rd., Ste. 108, Columbia 803-779-7257 palss.org. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Columbia Health Center 2712 Middleburg Dr., Suite 107, Columbia 803-256-4908 plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic. South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control 2000 Hampton Street, Columbia 803-898-0749 https://scdhec.gov/ ROCK HILL Affinity Health Center 455 Lakeshore Pky., Rock Hill 803-909-6363 affinityhealthcenter.org

Nov. 12-Nov. 25, 2021

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life,, positively

Our People: J. Donte Prayer Only Child, Big Brother and HIV Advocate

BY L’MONIQUE KING QNOTES STAFF WRITER

O

n a chilly fall evening a group of friends volunteered at a local pantry to hand out food to people in need. Afterwards they went to dinner, as usual. Among the crew was J. Donte Prayer, who has routinely volunteered at the pantry since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He spoke with qnotes following the meal about his life as a volunteer, an HIV advocate and an eligible bachelor, with dreams of marrying Cleveland Browns’ Wide Receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. Born and reared in Greenville, N. C., after graduating from Elizabeth City State University, Prayer relocated to Charlotte in 2016. What brought him to Charlotte? “A job in HIV Prevention,” Prayer told qnotes, “I started out at Quality Comprehensive Health Care. They had a prevention program called The Powerhouse Project where a dear friend of mine, Dr. Darrin, Johnson worked. He suggested I apply.” In the beginning, he assisted Dr. Johnson with research studies and ballroom related interventions. The two had worked together previously with Prayer volunteering his time towards HIV Intervention and Prevention activities. Later on, when he was hired as a Prevention Coordinator, Prayer’s responsibilities and passion for the work expanded. As a Prevention Coordinator he tested clients for HIV and HepC, performed valued community outreach, provided event coordination and nurtured community partnerships to spread the word on HIV awareness, care and resources. He did that for The Powerhouse Project for three years. Today, Prayer is a morehouse College student working towards his Master’s degree in public health. Currently, he works as a Health Access Coordinator for the North Carolina AIDS Action Network (NCAAN). “Basically, I do policy and advocacy work,” he explains, “One of my primary focuses right now is making sure there is Medicaid expansion in North Carolina and other states. That means making sure state budgets include HIV testing and other HIV comprehensive

experiments. Current services, whether it’s disparities, stigma prevention or care.” and situations like But that’s not his these prevent people only job. from seeing doctors.” Prayer is a busy HIV Intervention man who also serves and Prevention take as HIV Program up quite a bit of Manager for the Prayer’s time, both Center for Black professionally and Health and Equity. personally. Recently, “They were formerly he created and the National African spearheaded ROLE American Tobacco (Reach, Organize, Prevention Network. Learn, Empower) They started out Models. “It’s a soon focusing on tobacco to be non-profit prevention and over initiative that uses the years became more comprefashion as a health Community minded and a busy advocate: hensive, including promotion tool to inJ. Donte Prayer other services like fluence health equity, HIV Prevention. Many especially among the funders are apprehensive about funding Black Community. organizations with AIDS in the name, so I “Because I have a passion for fashion think that may have also factored into the and I also have a passion for health, I name change. Funders today seem to be decided to merge the two. I feel like when looking for programs and organizations it comes to LGBT Black people, we have an that offer more comprehensive services, image focus. We care about style. So, I felt especially harm reduction.” like adding a fashion component [to HIV Harm reduction includes syringe advocacy] would not only raise awareness, exchange programs, condom distribution, mental health awareness and access and substance use issues.” But wait – there’s more! Additionally he serves on boards such as the Getting to Zero Planning Council, the Ryan White Planning Body and the HPTN096 HIV Vaccine Study. With all that responsibility on his plate, one might feel inclined to ask, why so much? “I do this work because so many that share my intersectionality are impacted by health care disparities,” says Prayer, “Because I want Black people to advocate for themselves and know that it’s okay to go to a doctor because their clinicians are providing culturally affirming safe spaces. “I want to break down systemic barriers and historical trauma from situations like the medical mistreatment of Henrietta Lacks and participants of the Tuskegee

but also help make health awareness more memorable and lasting. [Once] I saw a lady wearing condom earrings. It was an immediate reminder of prevention options that include condom use.” Somehow though, with advocacy heavily coursing through his veins, Prayer still makes time to serve as a mentor and Big Brother for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Central Carolinas – something he quite enjoys doing. As an only child himself, Prayer knows a little something about feeling like “the only” and needing an extra someone who could offer guidance, safety and compassion. These are all things he hopes to impart while sitting on the floor playing with trucks and cars with a seven-year-old he spends time with through the program. When not working in HIV advocacy, Prayer enjoys travel, charity events, shopping and theater. “I’m very into anything involving the arts and performance, too. I [also] love amusement parks and have season passes to Carowinds!” When asked where he sees himself 10 years from now, he doesn’t skip a beat. “I hope that I will not be working in HIV because I hope it will have been eradicated or at least managed. But I do see myself continuing to make sure that all people still have equitable health care and access to health care.” : :

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