Venton Jones, 24, has been involved in local HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and services since 2003 with various agencies. Jones has a bachelor’s degree in community health and is working on his master’s in health care administration. He’s been nominated to receive the Legacy of Success Foundation’s Next Generation Award during the group’s Heritage Celebration Weekend from Feb. 21-24. For more info, go to www.losf.org
What made you decide to go into the field of HIV/AIDS services?
I have always had an interest in health care, and in particular addressing health disparities in minority populations. Growing up in Dallas, I have seen the effects that HIV/AIDS has had in the LGBT and African-American communities. In college, I was able to do research on HIV/AIDS and had the opportunity to present at a few conferences. After volunteering for several years, I noticed that services for the African-American LGBT community and the prevention efforts in Dallas County were severely lacking.
What are some of the accomplishments thus far that you are most proud of?
A major accomplishment that I am proud of is the response that the community (providers and individual community members) are having to the different events being hosted dealing with HIV and other issues in the African-American LGBT community. I have been recently accepted into the Black AIDS Institute’s 2008 African American HIV University Community Mobilization College. It is an honor to be a fellow in this program because only 25 individuals were accepted from across the nation. Also, I was awarded the 2007 Hazel Hatcher Scholarship sponsored by the Legacy of Success Foundation..
What are the biggest challenges you and others face in trying to combat HIV/AIDS in the African-American community?
Funding! I have worked with several organizations and the major barrier that has been encountered is funding. here are so many great ideas and activities that can be done, but due to the lack of funding, it is hard to implement or continue the needed intervention and support systems in the community.
How can you overcome those challenges?
We must continue to build relationships with other organizations to gain support. Also, we must work with the community to continue to advocate for these services.
What can people do to get involved?
There are not enough people involved in the places where decisions are made about the African-American LGBT population. Becoming informed about what is going on and taking action is critical in fighting this pandemic.
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