"...and I will be able to exuberantly live out that purpose.”
Hartsel Shirley is a Bishop based in Atlanta, Georgia, who has been involved with HIV advocacy since 2002. He has participated in numerous conferences, panels, and workshops to educate others about aging with HIV and combat the stigma faced by people living with HIV, particularly in the Black community. “Hartsel” has 3 meanings – full of grace, a bright flame, a living marvel.
“I believe when people see me and my husband, out in the community, living, thriving, doing the work; they will understand that HIV is no longer a death sentence.”
Malcolm Reid is based in Atlanta, Georgia and has been involved with HIV advocacy since 2014. He created THRIVE SS’s group for Black men living with HIV over the age of 50, Silver Lining Project, and works to help participants grapple with aging, PTSD, loss, and stigma while training them in political advocacy. Malcolm is an avid thrill-seeker and rollercoaster enthusiast having ridden over 50 of the world's fastest.
Sergei Dawson is a Community Advisory Board Member for HIVE, an APLA Health program for HIV-Elders. He lives in LA County and works to help those aging with HIV accept their status and access the resources that helped save his life. Sergei loves to dance, cook and bake during his free time.
“My anger and frustration have been replaced with hope, self-respect and love.”
Claude Bowen is a Reverend based in Atlanta, Georgia, who has been involved with HIV advocacy for over 35 years. He works with THRIVE SS and found his purpose in service and in educating others on HIV infection, transmission, prevention, and care. In addition to facilitating THRIVE’s emotional wellness group and being one of the authors of THRIVE’s homegrown intervention for Black gay men living with HIV over the age of 50, “The Silver Lining Project,” Claude is an avid performer and member of THRIVE SS’ “Clever Collective” of poets, singers and performers.
“Seeing the impact of our efforts through advocacy, as well as the allies and community partners furthering our cause, makes me hopeful for the future.”
Nathan Townsend is a singer, songwriter, motivational speaker, creative director, and social advocate based in Fulton County, Georgia. He has been involved with HIV advocacy since 2005 and works with THRIVE SS to support people living with HIV, using art and music to tell his story and combat the stigma people living with HIV experience. Nathan is a commentator at fashion shows.
While the challenges continue to be daunting, there are numerous signs of progress in the fight to eradicate HIV by 2030.
Between 2012 and 2016, new infections in New York City decreased by 26 percent. In 2017, new infections in San Francisco fell to a record low of 221 in the city that was once known as ground zero for the AIDS epidemic. While we still have a long way to go, each of these headlines would have been unthinkable 24 years ago.