Community Activist Mark Johnson is Today’s Honoree

MarkJohnsonMark Johnson is the founder of Brotherhood, Incorporated, a nonprofit community based organization whose primary concern is health services in the African-American community. He is a graduate of the New Orleans public school system and attended Southern University at Baton Rouge.

For the past ten years, Mr. Johnson has implemented the vision of the organization to develop innovative approaches to addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic in undeserved communities through programs such as HIV prevention, training and education, housing, case management and support services.

In 2000, Mr. Johnson served as the chairman of the New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council, which administers the Ryan White Title I Care Act Funds and maintains a seat on the Board. Mr. Johnson oversees Brotherhood’s Independent Living Housing Units for person with HIV/AIDS and selects, develops, and provides quality control at all construction sites.

Mark Johnson never set out to get involved in this type of work. It was never part of his road map.   He was an entertainer back in the 80’s working at clubs throughout the area when he began to hear about a lot of his clients dying or getting sick by a deadly virus.
Overtime, it became apparent that this virus was plaguing many of the African-Americans in the New Orleans communities, particularly those from the  at-risk communities, such as the formerly incarcerated and transgender.   He could not stand by and watch this happen; he had to help.  At first he volunteered his help and poured his own personal funds
into it, but as the task was monumental, he soon realized this issued needed his full time attention.

In 1996, he established Brotherhood as a minority non-profit organization  created to provide services to the African American community to prevent and fight the spread of HIV and STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) through education, housing services and
assistance in accessing healthcare.   In particular, it was founded to help those communities most impacted by HIV and STIs and at highest risk for to HIV to transmitting the disease to their needle sharers and partners, as well as African American men who have sex with other men (AAMSM) and eventually those in the transgender community.

What Mark found was that these communities were often denied care due to lack of insurance coverage and the pre-requisite knowledge to stop acquisition and transmission of the disease,  or merely because they neglected to obtain the proper care and treatment.  Through grants, Mark was able to provide a service that increased awareness of  HIV/AIDS within the African American community through training, education and community awareness.  He was also able to provide assistance in helping these clients obtain access to care, housing and helpful resources.

Brotherhood offers people living with HIV/AIDS a variety of different services and assistance including: Housing for those with HIV (Trinity), Safe Havens and a Place to go for Transgenders (Dollhouse), counseling and resources for employment, guidance for accessing treatment and care management, educational programs to help prevent the spread and transmission of HIV/AIDS, and many other programs.

Mark is a modest man and a caring one. He is a community leader in this space, but does not consider himself a hero but rather someone doing something that needs to be done.  He has dedicated years of his life to helping those living with HIV and AIDS. He also understands that education is key to stopping the spread of this disease and thus has educational programs as well. He hires people from the community of his clients who
understand their plight , and whom they can trust – which is critical.

Finally, he is working with other community leaders to make sure the high number of people living with HIV/AIDS is reduced increasingly and dramatically.  While these numbers are still high, he sees a huge difference.

Visit Mark Johnson for more information.

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