5 Questions with Aunjuan Wiley
Auntjuan M. Wiley is the coordinator for the Syphilis Elimination Project at La Sima Foundation, an organization that focuses on out-patient substance abuse counseling and HIV testing and advocacy for the homeless. He will be given a Community Service Award recognizing his “dedicated service and loyal efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS and other STDs” at the Legacy of Success’ “Heritage Celebration Goes Mardi Gras” banquet on Saturday, Feb. 17.
What other work do you do in addition to your job with La Sima Foundation?
I am a national trainer for the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families out of Washington, D.C. I travel around doing training sessions to teach people how to be advocates for themselves in regard to HIV and AIDS. I have been with the alliance for five or six years.
How long have you been involved in HIV advocacy work?
I’ve been involved in working around HIV issues for going on 14 years now. I was the coordinator for the Positive Personals program at the Resource Center of Dallas. It was a lifestyle connection event for people with HIV. My first major job was with the Resource Center of Dallas.
Why did you get involved in AIDS advocacy to begin with?
I just saw the need for people to learn to advocate for themselves. These were people who needed a voice, and I wanted to be that voice, especially when it came to AIDS and HIV in the African-American community. Also, as a person who is living with HIV, I can definitely relate to their needs. I have been positive for about 11 years, and I think it has made me more aggressive and determined in my work.
Do you ever feel like you are getting burned out in this work?
I wouldn’t say I get burned out. But I do get very frustrated sometimes. But that just makes me even more determined, more focused and more motivated. I want to see more people get involved and empowered. The more people are involved, the more they are empowered. I just believe that.
How can celebrating African-American history help in the fight against AIDS in the community?
We have to recognize the leadership our community has had in its history people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Louis Farrakhan. We have to remember their values, their struggles and their determination and bring those to the forefront of our lives. We have to all join forces and make our voices heard. We have to stand up and be as determined and vigilant as they were. We have to be the leaders they were. That is how we can protect our future.
Soundout is a weekly column featuring people whose jobs and interests have an impact on the daily lives of members of the GLBT community. It features those who often go unnoticed by the press and community. If you’d like to recommend someone to cover in this column, contact senior editor Tammye Nash at email@example.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 16, 2007.