March 10, 2016 at 5:12 pm EST | by Khadijah Tribble
Helping us get to an AIDS-free generation
AIDS Quilt, gay news, Washington Blade

The AIDS Quilt during a previous display in Washington. (Photo courtesy NAMES Project)

In 1987, the Names Project displayed the AIDS Memorial Quilt for the first time on the National Mall here in the District of Columbia during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Like many, I was overwhelmed by what I saw and I knew something special and scary was happening at the same time.

The Quilt began its 20-city national tour the next year to honor the many lives of individuals who had died from AIDS. Of the more than 9,000 national volunteers, I was one of them when the Quilt made a tour stop in Birmingham. It’s been 25 years since the planting of that HIV advocacy seed to “do something.” Over these last two decades I’ve done a few things.   Some incredible young girls who’ve lived with HIV from birth have allowed me to mentor and grow with them. As executive director of a local non-profit, I have helped children and families use the healing arts to improve their lives. I am most proud of helping to create a hospital-based infectious disease clinic that cares for people living with HIV by treating them with the dignity, respect and compassion they deserve.

Along this journey I’ve been privileged to meet incredible activists like Pat Nalls, who’ve touched my heart, informed my work and sometimes downright tongue-whipped me for getting it wrong. I wouldn’t change a thing. My pathway in this work also introduced me to an accomplished CDC-trained epidemiologist and one of the finest infectious disease physicians I know. Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, who with her vision, literally changed the trajectory of my work in HIV. From hospital operations, to research trials, to meeting Alicia Keys to working with federal partners, the impact has been limitless and so are the opportunities to continue “doing something.”

While my daily work doesn’t involve direct service or patient interaction, I consider this work to be a natural and necessary extension of all that I’ve learned in my professional and personal experience related to HIV. Nowadays I spend my time getting messages out to the community that HIV Treatment Works and how we can get to an AIDS-free generation. This is information for anyone but for my sisters in particular, I want you to be in the know about these three things at least.

HIV TREATMENT WORKS is a CDC campaign featuring people from across the United States who are living with HIV talking about how sticking with care and treatment helps them stay healthy, protect others, and live longer, healthier lives.

Meet Angie who inspires me to keep telling these stories of regular extraordinary people living well with HIV. It is possible!

PrEP IS FOR WOMEN TOO. PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It means taking medicine before being exposed to something to prevent yourself from getting a disease or condition. When we talk about PrEP in connection to HIV and women, we are referring to the idea of HIV-negative women taking HIV drugs to reduce their risk of becoming infected with HIV if they are exposed to it.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE HIV POSITIVE TO ‘DO SOMETHINGWe all need a little help from our friends. Martin Luther King Jr. said it plain and simple, “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”  Let’s be great together.

Khadijah Tribble is a longtime D.C. LGBT activist. She runs Ground Game, a public affairs and management consulting firm.

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