Tez Anderson, the founder of Let’s Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome), started HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day to celebrate the strength, determination, and lives of people who have lived with HIV for 20, 30, or more years. Many long-term survivors were part of the early days of activism and have roots in the development of the systems that work to prevent and treat HIV today.
The first HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day was June 5, 2014. The date of June 5th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the first reporting of cases by the CDC of what would later be known as AIDS.
Long-term HIV survivors bring so many strengths with them to the fight to end HIV. Many also face a number of unique challenges, including: medical care, medication, housing, and social isolation, and more. You can read more about aging with HIV in Barry Waller’s wonderfully-written previous post HIV and Aging.
This Friday June 5th, Achieving Together is honored to host, listen, and learn from a panel of long-term survivors here in Texas moderated by Barry Waller. Please see the information below on the webinar and read the panelists and host’s bios.
Friday June 5th, 2020
You do not need to download any additional software as the platform (GoToMeeting) will run in your web browser.
Or by phone at: (872) 240-3311 Access Code: 160-952-933
Barry Waller, Austin, Texas
For over 36 years, Barry Waller has worked in the mental health, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, and aging fields at both the community and state agency levels in various administrative and management positions. He has a Master’s Degree in Social Work. As the Texas Legislature combined various state agencies, Barry went to work at the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) as Assistant Commissioner over Provider Services. In this position, he managed directly administered services and various contracts with several thousand providers of disability and/or aging services throughout Texas.
Now retired, Barry spends his time working with different community and volunteer organizations. He served for nine years on the Board of Directors at AIDS Services of Austin, where he still remains as a volunteer. He has also served twice on the Board of Directors for OutYouth Austin and currently serves on the HIV Planning Council, a workgroup at the City of Austin on the City’s Age-Friendly Plan, and the Steering Committee of the LGBT Coalition on Aging.
Gary Cooper, Austin
I had just arrived back in Texas and started life with a new partner in 1985 when I tested positive and learned that my t-cells were already depleted; my new partner tested negative, and opted to stay together (we still are.) As the crisis worsened—most of our friends died—I struggled to continue professional employment, hiding my status and coping with several relocations as my partner’s career progressed. Although I’d never been involved in community volunteer work, I threw myself into helping to create the response to AIDS in Little Rock and later St. Louis, continuing my involvement in Austin as a board member of AIDS Services of Austin in the early 2000’s. Once I had gone on disability in 1993 after hospitalization with complications, I no longer tried to conceal my status and continue to make myself available to local media as a long-term survivor (most recently in a Statesman/USA Today article on lessons learned from the AIDS epidemic that apply to our current pandemic).
Glenda Small, San Antonio
I am 63 years old, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. I relocated to San Antonio because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and I decided to make San Antonio my home because I didn’t want to go back & start all over again. I have been HIV+ for 28 years, I have been on the Executive Board of Director’s for B.E.A.T. Coalition Trust for over 10 years; I have been on the Executive Board of P.E.E.R.S. for women (a support group for Women infected & affected by HIV/AIDS) for about 9 years; I’ve served 2 terms on the Ryan White planning Council here in San Antonio; I am on the End Stigma End HIV/AIDS Alliance known as ESEHA; I am a member of the peer mentoring advocacy group here in San Antonio; I was inducted in to Sister Love the Leading Women Society, also the Black Women’s Initiative for San Antonio, and two years ago I received an award from the Top Ladies of Distinction for Hidden Heroes!
Steven Vargas, Houston
Steven began helping people living with HIV in 1989, has been living with HIV since 1995, and was recognized as one of Poz Magazine’s “100 Long Term Survivors” in its annual “Top 100” December 2015 issue. Steven is a board member of Houston’s OH Project which preserves the experiences of Houstonians impacted by HIV, and is serving a four-year term as a Community Member representative to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. He also serves as a Trainer for NMAC’s Building Leaders of Color program and as a consultant with Project CHATT (Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Training and Technical Assistance), which provides technical assistance to Ryan White planning bodies in reaching their legislative requirements. He is also the Community Co-Chair of Houston’s HIV Prevention Community Planning Group (2020-2021), and serves on the local Ryan White Planning Council as the Co-Chair of the Comprehensive HIV Planning Committee.