As health advocates, the Reginald and Dionne Smith Foundation, Inc. (RDSF) team provides direct service to men and women living with HIV/AIDS, viral Hepatitis, and addictions or Substance Use Disorders (SUD) as well as their partners, family members, and advocates. We also provide information and tools for self-empowerment in patients’ health and social care while working both alone and with others to ensure that the needs of those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS, viral Hepatitis, and addictions or Substance Use Disorders (SUD) are recognized, heard, and acted upon.
Advocacy in HIV/AIDS and viral Hepatitis takes many forms. Some organizations provide advocacy at the local level, aiming to improve treatment and support programs for persons infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS, viral Hepatitis, and addictions or Substance Use Disorders (SUD) in their community. Other organizations work nationally to increase funding for treatment, research, or prevention of those diseases. Others advocate for services for specific groups such as men who have sex with men, women, and the LGBTQ. The RDSF has been engaged in all these areas of concern since our inception. Our attention to the needs of the underserved was the motivation for our creation.
What is missing is an organization that advocates specifically for the straight and heterosexual people and families living with HIV, and those in serodiscordant relationships. We serve ALL communities, but our lived experience as a serodiscordant couple for over 35 years, and the input and feedback from the many heterosexual people whom we have counseled, helps us to better understand how stigma has affected us all. We unashamedly advocate for more diverse imagery in media, and targeted educational opportunities for straight people that address our unique concerns as a way to diminish the stigma of AIDS, stem the proliferation of the contributing factors to these conditions, and make sure we all remember that HIV is NOT a gay disease.