Center For AIDS Research

Special Edition: June 8, 2017

The Network News
Special Edition: June 7, 2017

Divider Rule Focus On... CFAR Community Liaison Council

Focus On...    

The CFAR Community Liaison Council (CLC) came into being in order to serve as a two way link to people in Atlanta who are at risk for, affected by, or infected with HIV. Their self-identified charge is to bring community concerns to the CFAR leadership, to assist CFAR researchers in doing effective human subjects research, and to translate CFAR research findings into lay language for communication back to the community.

Current members of the CLC include Deji Adelbayo, John Beal (Ex-officio Chair), Gwen Davies, Damaris Henderson (current Co-Chair), Nina Martinez, Khairoonisa Pathan, Ericka Patrick, Will Smith, Bri Walker (current Co-Chair), LaMar Yarborough, and Dorothy Ziemer.

On May 11, 2017 the CLC hosted the innaugural "Barbara Vick* Impact Awards" (aka the "CFAR Barbies"), inviting key members of the AIDS-savvy public to come and help celebrate 15 honorees who had been nominated for a Barbie Award by Atlanta residents.

The following is drawn from the evening's program.

"There are over 50,000 people in Georgia living with HIV and two-thirds of this group lives in metro Atlanta. That is why we are hosting this community event to celebrate local nominees who have made new or under-recognized contributions in standing up for our neighbors living with HIV.

"The nominees are artists, community advocates, government employees, clinicians, and researchers. They are also diverse with respect to age, sex, gender, race, and ethnicity. We know what it takes for a cause of this magnitude: it takes all of us, including you."
. Divider Rule
     Jennifer Barnes-Balenciaga

*Who is Barbara Vick?

The below is copied verbatim from the Lambda Archives of San Diego.

"As a regular blood donor, Barbara Vick noticed screening questions at the blood bank in early 1983 that explicitly excluded gay men from giving blood. In those early days of AIDS fear about transmission ran high. Barbara decided to establish an account with the San Diego Blood Bank that gay men could upon if they needed blood. As a member of the newly formed Women's Caucus of the San Diego Democratic Club, Barbara brought the idea to the group which resulted in unexpected success. Her efforts resulted in the formation of the "Blood Sisters". Their first blood drive in 1983 was an overwhelming success, bringing nearly 200 lesbians to the blood bank and is thought to be the first of its kind anywhere in the United States. The Blood Sisters continued to organize blood drives for the next four years and led to the adoption of similar blood drives across the country. Barbara's great leadership and creativity provided the lesbian community with an empowering outlet in a time of frustration and hopelessness over this devastating disease."

Divider Rule

With text adapted from the 2017 "Barbies" gala dinner program, the 15 Nominees and 5 Winners (highlighted in Yellow) of the inaugural Barbara Vick Impact Award included:


Rama Amara     

Rama Rao Amara, PhD is a Professor in the Division of Microbiology and Immunology at Yerkes with joint appointments in the Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology and the Emory Vaccine Center. Rama's research focuses on the development of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines for HIV. He is working on the development of a vaccine approach which was highly efficacious in a primate model and is currently being tested in healthy human volunteers in the United States in a Phase IIa trial sponsored by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN).


     Jennifer Barnes-Balenciaga

Jennifer Barnes-Balenciaga is a woman of the trans experience who has dedicated her life to working to ensure the meaningful advancement of gender equity and inclusion for all people of the trans experience. Jennifer has an organizational affiliation in the illustrious House of Balenciaga, a leader in the House and Ballroom scene. She currently works for the Empowerment Resource Center, facilitating workshops, a support group and speaking about about the injustice that continues to impact individuals and communities through the persistence of health disparities.


Mona Bennett     

Mona Bennett has 22 years of harm reduction experience. She is one of many, many co-founders of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, Inc. Mona specializes in harm reduction, health/wellness production, Shadetree Counseling, and other Shadetree Services.



     Edith Biggers

Edith Biggers, MD is a public health physician who delivers compassionate and state-of-the-art medical care to underserved people living with HIV. She does this with an emphasis on maximizing self-empowerment through education. Since 1993, Edith has been a frequent voice on the speakers' circuit, encouraging patients to develop strategies for taking charge of their lives. These include maintaining adherence with antiretroviral therapies, negotiating safer sex practices with partners, and building the confidence to live openly with HIV.


Emily Halden Brown     

Emily Halden Brown is Director of Health & Education Programs at Georgia Equality. She created the Youth HIV Policy Advisors' Program to pair HIV+ young people to serve as HIV policy advisors to state lawmakers. Emily also founded the Atlanta Coalition for LGBTQ Youth to improve services provided to LGBTQ youth. She is on the executive committee of the Fulton County HIV/AIDS Task Force, the youth committee of the City of Atlanta Housing Continuum of Care, the board of directors of Living Room, and coordinates the World AIDS Day-Atlanta "Living With" art exhibit.


     Andres Camacho-Gonzalez

Andres Camacho-Gonzalez, MD is a board-certified pediatrician and pediatric ID specialist. He directs the Pediatric ID Fellowship Program within SOM, where he also serves as a Society Advisor. The majority of Andres' clinical work has been devoted to the Ponce Family and Youth Clinic. He also serves as an ID consultant at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. In addition to his clinical work, Andres' research has been committed to understanding how to support linkage to care, retention in care, and viral suppression of adolescents and young adults living with HIV.


Jonathan Colasanti     

Jonathan Colasanti, MD, MSPH is an assistant professor with a dual appointment in SOM/ID and RSPH/Global Health). He also serves as the Associate Medical Director of the Ponce Clinic. Jonathan's clinical and research interests focus on the delivery of HIV care to vulnerable populations, across the spectrum of the HIV care continuum. In his research, he seeks to bridge the implementation gap in order to improve the delivery of HIV care, by addressing sociobehavioral, biomedical, and systems-level barriers.


     Tori Cooper

Tori Cooper is an HIV Health Educator at Positive Impact Health Centers. She has over 25 years of experience in the HIV field and is the first transgender women certified by CDC as a Lead Facilitator of the WILLOW intervention which she used to design "TWILLOW," a transgender-specific adaptation. Tori serves on the City of Atlanta's Jurisdictional Prevention and Planning Group and is the creator and group leader of the "Hour of Power" for transgender, gender-nonconforming people and their allies.


Christian Emile Dacus     

Christian Emile Dacus is a freelance graphic designer, photographer, and spoken word artist who is dedicated to using his skills to benefit HIV and AIDS awareness. He received a scholarship to attend AIDSWatch 2016, where he spoke to members of Georgia's Congressional Delegation to discuss federal funding for Ryan White, comprehensive sex education, HIV criminalization, and housing people living with HIV. Currently, Christian Emile is working on a photography project called "POSITIVE" depicting people living and thriving with HIV.


     Emily Getsay

Emily M. Getsay is an artist, activist, and philanthropist whose passion is to empower those most affected by HIV stigma to lift up their voices and tell their stories through art. Emily recently co-curated a show based around fighting and seeking to end HIV stigma and, as a conceptual artist, her pieces attempt to allows viewers to explore ideas through more relateable lenses. For example, her installation "Habit" representated what a person living with HIV sees and feels in a 24-hour time span.


Sophia Hussen     

Sophia Hussen, MD, MPH is an assistant professor at Emory with a dual appointment in the School of Medicine (Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases) and the School of Public Health (Department of Global Health). Her clinical and research interests focus on the treatment and prevention of HIV among adolescents and young adults. In her research, Sophia seeks to bridge sociobehavioral and biomedical approaches to improving HIV-related outcomes for racial/ethnic and sexual minority youth.


     Johnnie Ray Kornegay III

Johnnie Ray Kornegay, III is a storyteller, consultant, and coach. He is Network Director for the Counter Narrative Project, which advocates for black gay men, the Founder and Artistic Director of Static Art & Life, an arts company with the mission, "delivering beauty to the world." In 2016, two public bodies of photographic and video work he exhibited - #BeTheFlame and "untitled" - included themes dealing with the effects of HIV/AIDS on black gay men. He also co-curated "I AM... - Arts, Activism and HIV," which was presented at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.


Harvinder Makkar     

Harvinder Makkar, PhD started working in the field of HIV in New Delhi, India and was the first to organize blood donation camps, which created a directed donation of blood to serve people living with hemophilia and HIV. As Director of the HIV and AIDS Program at HOPE Atlanta Programs of Travelers Aid Harvinder develops a comprehensive program to meet the needs of homeless people living with HIV. She also serves on the Ryan White Planning Council, GA Prevention and Care Council, and the City of Atlanta's Jurisdictional HIV Prevention Planning Group.


     Vince Marconi

Vincent Marconi, MD is a Professor of Medicine (SOM/Medicine/ID) and an Associate Professor of Global Health (RSPH/Global Health). He serves as Director of the ID Research Program at the Atlanta VAMC Infectious Disease Clinic, which is the country's largest provider of healthcare to veterans living with HIV. The main focus of Vince's research is to identify the biological, social and behavioral conditions that lead to disparities in HIV treatment response. Results from these studies inform the design of interventional trials to improve the quality of life for people with HIV.


Melody Palmore     

Melody Pratt Palmore, MD is a long-time ID physician who has overseen the growth of services for women receiving care at the Ponce Clinic, to include comprehensive preventive and gynecological outpatient care. She also serves as consultant and primary care provider in the Main Outpatient Clinic, as well as on the inpatient Special Immunology Service. Melody has been actively involved with the AIDS Clinical Trial Group as a researcher for 22 years. She is an outspoken advocate for increasing women's participation in clinical trials and other observational studies.


     Masonia Traylor

Masonia Traylor is a mother of two and a proponent of equipping future generations with the knowledge they need to stop new acquisitions of HIV. She dedicates herself to service as a passionate HIV advocate for youth and young adults through her non-profit organization, Lady BurgAndy. Masonia provides health and wellness initiatives with a specialty focus on the intersectionality of youth, women of color, and HIV.


Kristin Wall     

Kristin Wall, PhD is an Assistant Professor (RPSH/Epidemiology) and a collaborating researcher with the Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group. She also collaborates with the Programs, Research, & Innovation in Sexual Minority Health Group and the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). Her research focuses on HIV prevention, family planning, and studies of intervention/program cost-effectiveness to advance evidence-based decision-making.


     Craig Washington

Craig Washington serves as a Prevention Programs Manager for gay men's HIV prevention programs at AID Atlanta. Since 1992 Craig has developed education programs for Black communities, engaged in multi-issue organizing and training throughout the Southeast, and coordinated training services and cultural proficiency workshops for clinicians. Craig is a widely-published writer, having authored numerous articles, editorials, and essays centered around his belief in the unleashed power of Black gay men.


Fulton County, GA     

Kathy Whyte has been serving people living with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic in Atlanta. She worked for the state of Georgia as well as Fulton County, and was the heart of the Ryan White program for many years. During her retirement Kathy has coordinated the creation of the Georgia Integrated HIV Care and Prevention Plan.


Divider Rule

In addition to the 2017 Barbies nominees and winners named above, CLC charter member Nina Martinez was the suprised recipient of a Founders Award presentation, honoring her service to the initiation of the CLC's ambitions, goals, structure, and activities.

     Nina Martinez

Nina Martinez became one of the first transfusion-associated cases of HIV infection shortly after she was born. That life-changing event, and the passion for social justice activism that arose from it, has been the guiding force of Nina's adult life. A meeting with Jim Curran -- who, in his role as head of the CDC task force investigating the new disease -- had corresponded with Nina's parents shortly after she was diagnosed in her infancy -- brought Nina to Emory for grad school.

Since earning her MPH degree (Epidemiology) from RSPH, Nina has worked as a public health analyst for the CDC, a program analyst for the Vaccine Safety Datalink project, and a vaccine trials outreach staff member for The Hope Clinic at Emory.

She was also recently appointed to the City of Atlanta's Human Relations Commission and has served as a board member for The Grassroot Project, as a CAB member for the Atlanta WIHS, and as a Youth HIV Policy Advisor for Georgia Equality.

Congratulations to Nina -- a truly worthy recipient of the CLC's first ever Founder's Award.


Divider Rule
CFAR logo

The Network News is a periodic email, detailing HIV/AIDS related events, funding opportunities, and achievements of CFAR members. If you have items that you wish to have included, please send them to us at by Friday of each week. Please put "The Network News" in the subject line.

The Network News is distributed to CFAR members and fans by email every Tuesday. Except when it isn't.

Editor, Kimberley (Kimbi) Sessions Hagen, EdD

Divider Rule
Twitter Are you on Twitter? Follow us here