Progress report on END HIV Houston’s first annual advocacy week

END HIV Houston supporters at City Hall

By James Lee

Last week, END HIV Houston (END) held its first-ever HIV Advocacy Week to bring more awareness to Houston’s HIV epidemic and the END campaign. The week-long effort included a civic-engagement training, testifying before Houston City Council, a conversation with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s district office and a meeting with Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. With each meeting, we learned more about opportunities to collaborate and continued to build on relationships with their staff.

At City Hall

At City Hall, END supporters came together to call on city council members to rededicate resources to ending the HIV epidemic in Houston. At public session, Mayor Sylvester Turner reiterated his support of END’s efforts and said it was time to “raise the volume and discuss it,” adding “it can’t be quietly discussed, it needs to be publicly discussed.” Several members of council also reaffirmed their support for HIV treatment and prevention, including Council Members Mike Laster, Robert Gallegos, Brenda Stardig, Larry Green and Greg Travis, who requested a meeting to see how we may be able to work together. We look forward to that meeting.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

With Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s district staff, we had a long and in-depth conversation about opportunities to address HIV in congressional district 18. Booker Morris III, the congresswoman’s district director, gave our supporters helpful advice and committed to work with us in the future.

 Sheriff ED Gonzales/World AIDS Day

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez was pleased to learn of END’s ongoing effort to address HIV from a criminal justice perspective in Harris County. Sheriff Gonzalez, whose department is already leading significant HIV treatment programs, has been a long time supporter of efforts to address HIV and pledged to work with END HIV Houston in 2018, to address the needs of the incarcerated, upon entry and exit of Harris County jails.

 World AIDS Day

The week concluded at Legacy Community Health’s World AIDS Day vigil, where we commemorated those lost to HIV/AIDS and spoke about END’s ongoing fight.

The END HIV Houston Campaign is excited about the support we have received this far and look forward to moving closer to our goal, with the help of our partners. We thank all of the END supporters who attended these meetings with us throughout the week, including our partners at AAMA and Windsor Village Church.

Let’s END HIV Houston. Be in it to END it.