Back HIV Policy & Advocacy Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) to End, but Networks Will Continue

Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) to End, but Networks Will Continue

On October 27, the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) announced that its board and staff had decided to end the agency's operations. CHAMP, founded by long-time AIDS activist Julie Davids in 2003, aimed to unite HIV positive people, community activists, policy-makers, and researchers in effort to attack the root causes of the epidemic such as poverty, homophobia, and racism. Two networks spearheaded by CHAMP -- the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance and Project UNSHACKLE -- will continue their work under new auspices.

Below is the text of an email announcement from CHAMP's board co-chairs to supporters describing the latest developments.

CHAMP to Close, Networks to Continue

As a supporter of HIV prevention justice, we are writing to inform you that the Board and staff of the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) have made the difficult decision to end CHAMP's operations as an independent non-profit and to shift our existing active networks -- the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA) and Project UNSHACKLE -- to other institutional homes.

The reasons for this decision are many and varied, and reflect the challenges faced by many small grassroots organizations working for social justice.

Over the last seven years, CHAMP has made a significant impact on the framing of HIV prevention in the US and has pursued the goal of building a movement that bridges HIV prevention and other struggles for economic, social and racial justice. However, in the process, we were not able to build a sustainable organization in the current economic climate that could overcome the challenges of balancing movement building and leadership development with organizational administration and operations.

We are enormously proud of CHAMP's record of pushing for progressive HIV/AIDS policies that address the demands of communities most affected by the human rights abuses and structural inequalities in our country that continue to fuel the epidemic.
  • With allies including thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS and grassroots community advocates, we fought for an unprecedented National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) that, however imperfect and unfinished, acknowledges social drivers of the epidemic and demands coordinated plans and accountability across federal agencies.
  • We fought alongside community organizations around the country for access to condoms in jails and schools, to strip abstinence-only funding from state budgets, draw together students and people with HIV to fight for syringe exchange, and build the power of women to challenge sentencing rules that marginalize sex workers.
  • We demanded significant changes to "business as usual" at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including drastic changes to burdensome data collection mandates for providers, broader discussion of social drivers and structural interventions in the epidemic, and an expanded commitment to confronting the criminalization of HIV.
  • We founded a national network, Project UNSHACKLE, dedicated to the intersection of HIV and imprisonment, linking over 1000 formerly imprisoned leaders and allies in strategicdialogue and action.
  • Through the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance and other efforts, we helped a new generation of AIDS activists of all ages, including many people living with HIV/AIDS, find their voice in struggles for HIV prevention justice.
  • We marshaled AIDS community resources for allied campaigns in LGBTQ liberation, racial justice, women's empowerment and human rights.
  • And we built the CHAMP Network of nearly 12,000 people across the United States -- like you -- who are committed to HIV prevention justice and who have taken action on issues as diverse as the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) crisis, global HIV/AIDS funding, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for LGBT work equity.

In the coming months, we will invite you to actively participate as we document these and other battles, along with successes, failures and major unsolved problems, with and for our supporters and members. We hope this record of our achievements and the lessons we have learned will serve as a tool for current and future activists who have and will take up the cause of HIV prevention justice.

While this marks an end to CHAMP as we have known and loved it for the last seven years, it also marks the beginning of a new phase in the development of the two networks that CHAMP carefully built and fostered.

The CHAMP Board and the broader HIV/AIDS community have recognized the critical importance of the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA) and Project UNSHACKLE in pushing the HIV prevention justice vision forward, and we have already identified two organizations that are eager to provide them with the institutional support necessary to further their work.

The HIV PJA will be housed by one of its co-founding organizations, AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). Founded by community activists and physicians in 1985, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is a catalyst for local, national, and international action on HIV/AIDS. In 2007, AFC was a key partner in CHAMP's HIV Prevention Justice Mobilization. One year later, AFC, CHAMP and SisterLove co-founded the HIV PJA as a coalition of organizations and individuals advocating for effective and just HIV prevention policies in the United States. Julie Davids will continue to coordinate the HIV PJA as a decentralized network under the auspices of AFC.

Project UNSHACKLE will continue as a project of the New York City AIDS Housing Network/Voices of Community Activists and Leaders (NYCAHN/VOCAL), a powerful model of grassroots community organizing and PWA leadership development. NYCAHN/VOCAL was CHAMP's fiscal sponsor for our first several years, and throughout CHAMP's existence, many NYCAHN/VOCAL members and staff have been involved as staff, members and Board members. Project UNSHACKLE fits well into their current work on healthcare in jails and prisons, and in the experiences of many of their members with imprisonment, probation, parole and re-entry.

The Board would also like to recognize the enduring contribution of two individual CHAMP leaders in particular -- Julie Davids, CHAMP'S visionary founder and current Director, and Waheedah Shabazz-El, CHAMP's long-term, volunteer Community Organizer/Trainer and powerful organizer on behalf of women and all people living with HIV. Julie has contributed inspirational leadership not only to CHAMP, but to the struggle against the epidemic in this country. We are very pleased that she plans to continue her role as a leader in the HIV PJA in its new home. Waheedah began as a CHAMP member, took on an increasing variety of organizing and leadership tasks and is the newest member of the CHAMP Board of Directors, helping to shape the concrete future of the prevention justice vision.