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MAR04

Meet Carl Baloney, Jr., Director of Government Affairs

Carl Baloney, Jr. is the Director of Government Affairs at AIDS United. A longtime advocate for vulnerable populations, Carl has focused his career on developing innovative policy solutions that benefit disenfranchised communities across the country, with a particular focus on the rural south. He is currently in the midst of planning AIDSWatch, the nation's largest domestic HIV advocacy event. We caught up with him to learn more about this year's AIDSWatch event and how he stays on top of it all.

(AIDSWatch registration price increases soon, register by Friday, March 8 to save $35!)

Tell me a bit about yourself and how you got involved in this work?

I’m a black gay man from the deep south and have built my career in public and non-profit service working to advance the well being of marginalized populations, including the most economically disadvantaged and people facing barriers accessing health care, education, and financial opportunity.

I began my career in health policy working on state and federal candidate and issue-specific campaigns. Later I joined the staff of then U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon where I served as senior legislative assistant. Most recently, I served as a senior member of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s legislative affairs team, where I worked to advance the reproductive health and rights of women and families in the United States. I’ve been director of government affairs at AIDS United since 2015 and it’s been an incredible role to support grass-roots advocacy and political engagement.

You've been working hard to organize AIDSWatch, the largest domestic HIV advocacy event is right around the corner (April 1-2). What are you most looking forward to?

AIDSWatch is the singular event that energizes my work for the rest of the year. I most look forward to talking to both new and more seasoned advocates, learning from their stories and seeing them become empowered to advocate for the policies they view as key to helping them live healthier more full lives.

Last year we had over 500 advocates from 36 states, DC, and Puerto Rico came together to advocate for the changes needed to end the epidemic in the United States, meeting with over 300 Congressional offices. AIDSWatch in 2019 will only continue to build on that momentum.

For people interested in attending, you can learn more and register at www.aidsunited.org/aidswatch. The registration price jumps from $35 to $70 on March 9!

What have been the highlights of your experience attending AIDSWatch in the past? What advice would you share with someone attending AIDSWatch for the first time?

Aside from learning advocates’ personal stories, it has been quite rewarding to be a part of educating Members of Congress and their staff on the current HIV epidemic. It’s surprising how in 2019 many policy makers know so little about HIV, including major advances such as U=U and PrEP. I would advise advocates take nothing for granted. Share the basics about HIV as well as their lived experience with HIV to have an honest conversation about how we can make communities healthier.

The president recently announced a plan to end the HIV epidemic in the next 10 years. How is AIDSWatch an opportunity for advocates to build on this momentum and hold the administration accountable?

AIDSWatch is the first major opportunity since the State of the Union announcement for hundreds of advocates to share the community’s commitment to ending the epidemic in person on Capitol Hill. Advocates must take advantage of this opportunity to convey to Congress that it must provide extensive new funding to bring about an end to the epidemic and ensure that the community’s Roadmap to Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States is taken into account.

How do you stay motivated in this work?

My motivation is fed by seeing the impact of our work on people most living with and affected by HIV across the country, particularly in the rural south. Seeing folks granted access to health insurance for the first time and now engaged in care fuels my passion for this work.



Posted By: Sarah Hashmall, Communications Manager - Monday, March 04, 2019



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