The Dissolution of the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA)
20130217 NAPWA Statement
GNP+NA notes with sadness and disappointment the dissolution of the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA).
NAPWA was founded 30 years ago, shortly after the meeting where the seminal “Denver Principles” self-empowerment manifesto was written and adopted by people living with AIDS. Since then, NAPWA played an important role in fostering HIV positive leadership and advocating on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS.
While we salute the historical role of NAPWA and valuable work done by those who were part of NAPWA over the years, we also know that the organization often struggled to fulfill its mission to be an effective national voice of and for people living with HIV/AIDS.
As the North American affiliate of the Global Network of People living with HIV/AIDS, GNP+NA believes that the closing of NAPWA must be the impetus for a far-ranging participatory discussion that re-imagines and strengthens PLWHA organizing and leadership in the United States.
One of the first steps must be a full, honest and transparent explanation of the circumstances and actions leading to NAPWA’s closure. Like others in the AIDS community, we have recently been made aware of troubling issues that appear to have led to the bankruptcy. Any tax-exempt group that has raised and spent tens of millions in contributions, grants and government funds over the years owes such accountability to the community they purport to represent.
There are now more people than ever living with HIV/AIDS in the US and around the world. While transmission rates have stabilized or even fallen in some communities, other communities are ravaged by an epidemic that continues to grow and rage unchecked.
The need for the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS, particularly those from the most vulnerable communities, has never been more critical. Yet the commitment to empowering people with HIV, by those in government, NGOs and civil society, seems to exist more in rhetoric than in reality.
Despite that lack of support, there are countless vibrant and effective HIV positive leaders and activists working at every level of this epidemic from the grassroots to national and global organizations. There are thousands more who are capable of leadership, but who aren’t provided the encouragement, opportunity and support to find their voices.
GNP+NA intends to work with colleagues and committed allies to turn a sad milestone—the closure of one of the very first organizations representing people with HIV—into an essential community dialogue involving the full, rich and exciting diversity of all communities of people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.
Together we can and must build a stronger, more inclusive, representative, and accountable movement by and for people living with HIV. Because like those early pioneers who met in a hotel room in Denver and wrote a radical manifesto that has been heard around the world, we are still “Fighting for our Lives” and we are fighting for the lives of each other.