Friday, June 25, 2010

Wisconsin AIDS Network
Removes Name From Agency Door

(The main entrance to the HIV services org that dare not speak its name on its door: the AIDS Network of Madison, WI.)

From the Midwest, Greg Milward has operated a blog to hold his local AIDS org accountable on a number of important issues. Called, he's done an excellent job of asking tough questions about the (mis)management of the AIDS Network.

Greg alerted me to a disturbing development that echoes the awful, dark, terrible early years of the AIDS crisis, when even saying the name of the disease was risky in certain situations, such as trying to rent an apartment or commercial space.

The head of the AIDS Network has removed the agency's name from their door where they provide services. This sort of b.s. reinforces the stigma people with AIDS still face in many part of America, and should outrage every AIDS activist. I'm blogging about Greg's effort to restore the agency's name back on their door, in the spirit of activist solidarity. The more attention this name removal receives, the more it may help persuade the org to do the right thing.

From Greg's blog:

Karen Dotson is sending the message that the community she is supposed to be serving does not want to talk about AIDS. [...]

What message is Karen sending to Madison by her stupid decision to take the agency’s name off the door and replace it with “Suite H?”

* People with HIV infection are ashamed of their status; [...]

* She doesn’t give a damn about those who have walked through those doors, held their head high and weren’t cowering because of shame heaped on them by a failed Executive Director. In essence, she’s saying “We thought you would want to feel some new shame and stigma so we renamed the public’s view of the agency to “Suite H”; [...]

Through her actions Karen is telling donors, ACT Riders, Bingo go’ers, etc., that it’s OK to talk about AIDS Network when they are fabricating the fundraising song and dance. After all “Together we are all living with AIDS”, touts their PR spin machine. [...]

In reality, the only thing to be ashamed of is that Karen Dotson continues to serve as Executive Director of AIDS Network. She’s done ample damage and hopefully her departure from AIDS Network is imminent.

Keep up the excellent accountability activism, Greg. We need more if it everywhere.

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