Monday, May 13, 2013

Meet the New NAPWA, Same as the Old NAPWA?

Friday is the traditional day to dump bad news or news you don't want to get too much scrutiny, and last Friday, May 10th, an announcement from Washington, DC, heralded the formation of a new group for people living with HIV/AIDS called Pozitively Healthy. The timing alone raised my suspicions about whomever was behind the group and when I read some of the names of the people involved alarms went off because they were associated the defunct National Association of People With AIDS.

The announcement was issued by Health HIV, an advocacy group in the nation's capital, that as far as I can tell from their staff directory and roster of board members, does not include a single openly-identified PWA.

You may recall that after months of no communication about serious fiscal and management troubles at NAPWA, it went out of business in February. Since NAPWA's demise, there has been no accountability of what led to the demise and who was responsible. Not that NAPWA was any great shakes or vital organization for PWAs, considering it really pushed more of the federal government's HIV testing agenda than empowerment for PWAs, but it was a nominal voice for us.

Among Pozitively Healthy's leadership is Judi Billings, former board chair of NAPWA, Stephen Bailous, former veep of NAPWA, James McCullough, former development associate at NAPWA, Mini Minier, former Latino/a outreach associate for NAPWA, and finally Frank Oldham, the former executive director of NAPWA.

With five key persons from NAPWA involved with Pozitively Healthy questions must be first raised about why they should be trusted when years of lack of transparency, questionable stewardship and failure to respectfully engage the PWA community were the modus operandi.

Regarding the lingering questions over NAPWA's demise, AIDS accountability advocate and blogger Greg J. Milward who's based in Wisconsin and blogs at USAHIV, check out his post about NAPWA's site is still operating and asking folks to join it, his post about no funds are available to pay off NAPWA's creditors, and his post about Oldham's removal from the National Minority AIDS Council's board of directors web page.

Speaking of NMAC, they are promoting a live town hall in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, May 14 starting at 5 PM East Coast time that will have several online components, which is ostensibly for PWAs and I'm very curious to observe the meeting and who the speakers are.

I'm curious why the Pozitively Healthy release went out last Friday, and four-days later a town hall meeting is happening to discuss the news of PWAs at the national level. Frankly, it seems like a whole lot of decisions about the new group have already been made behind closed doors, and how the usual suspects in AIDS Inc hand their fingerprints all over Pozitively Healthy and the town hall.

You may recall that in 2011 I waged a campaigned to have NAPWA and NMAC post their three most current IRS 990s on their site, and it took weeks of lobbying and stress to convince NAPWA and NMAC to provide this voluntary fiscal transparency to the PWA community. NAPWA eventually posted the 990s, after much arm-twisting, while NMAC's Paul Kawata adamantly refused to be transparent.

Almost two years later, as Milward reported at USAHIV in March of this year, Kawata finally saw the transparency light and posted NMAC's IRS 990 filings on the group's site.

Unfortunately, Health HIV is not yet on the transparency bandwagon. There are no financials at their About Us page. Not a single IRS 990 is shared at the sponsor for Pozitively Healthy. It is never a good stewardship sign when an AIDS agency fails to share their three most current tax filings are nowhere to be found on their site.

Health HIV's latest 990, by the way, for 2011 and available here, shows it had revenue of $3,846,792 that year and they took in $3,094,313 in government grants (see page 9).

When almost 80% of a group's budget comes from the government, presumably in this case since Health HIV is a national organization from the federal government, don't expect the group to be independent and free to criticize its primary funder.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow. now the ex director is testifying on behalf of people with AIDS in front of the DC City Council. What a credible source of information that must be. As a person living with HIV, I am disgusted that Health HIV would give credibility to a person who it appears has stolen money intended for serving our community. Just shows it's not about honor, ethics, and justice. It's about protecting the insider group of AIDS leaders. How sad for us.