AIDS United’s Racial Justice Index, one year on

One year ago, we announced our intentions of creating the Racial Justice Index for the HIV community. Around this National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we wanted to update the HIV community on our progress in this endeavor. After several months of conversations and acting on the feedback of members of the Public Policy Council’s  Racial Justice Index Committee, we have been hard at work to make this index into something the HIV sector will benefit from. The Index’s development is guided by consultation with members of our Policy Policy Council who serve on our Racial Justice Index Committee, led by Carl Baloney Jr., vice president and chief advocacy office at AIDS United, and co-chaired by A. Toni Young, founder and executive director of Community Education Group, and Christina Adeleke, policy and communications manager at North Carolina AIDS Action Network. 

“Our Racial Justice Index has taken time, but it is critical to us that we get this right for the community,” said Baloney. “With Black and Brown people the brunt of the burden of HIV in our communities across the nation and particularly in the South, we must get this right in order to end the HIV epidemic. We must see leadership that is reflective of the communities we serve and we hope that the Racial Justice Index will do just that.”

In addition, the Racial Justice Committee receives feedback on the index from our Community Expert Council, made up of members of the HIV community from across the United States, of various backgrounds and lived experiences to ensure that the Index not only serves the organization working to end the HIV epidemic but centers those receiving services or care from those organizations. 

Since announcing this initiative, we have held meetings to discuss what values and methodologies on which we want to base the Index.  The intended outcome of the Racial Justice Index is to create awareness — and eventually sustainable change — around the misalignment between who holds power and resources in HIV organizations and the epidemic’s disproportionate impact on Black Americans. 

The Index’s mission is to assess and improve the HIV sector’s commitment to racial equity by creating assessment tools and resources to combat anti-Black racism and other forms of racism that will first be analyzed in Public Policy Council organizations and then the HIV sector. This includes hiring practices, leadership, talent retention and decision-making in the HIV movement. The Index’s methodical implementation process will seek to onboard HIV organizations to respond to an online national survey that will inform a publicly-released report, which will facilitate critical leadership conversations among HIV stakeholders.

Later this coming summer, AIDS United’s Public Policy Council will pilot the Racial Justice Index to ensure it is of the quality we want to provide to the HIV sector. We hope, that will this Index, we are able to support the goals around ensuring racial justice is enfolded into our work to end the HIV epidemic, as outlined in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.