Philadelphia activist HIV medication
Philadelphia activist HIV medication

Philadelphia Activist Stops Taking His HIV Medications to Protest Leadership of LGBTQ Health Center

Philadelphia activist Abdul-Aliy Muhammad has pledged to stop taking his HIV medications in protest of Nurit Shein, the CEO and executive director of the Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia’s LGBTQ health center.

Muhammad’s pledge follows a walkout by 60 Mazzoni staff members during a staff meeting this last Thursday — it was the second staff walkout this month. Protesting staff members issued a statement of no confidence alleging that Shein failed to quickly investigate claims of sexual misconduct and medical negligence that surfaced as early as five years ago against Dr. Robert Winn, the center’s now-former medical director. Dr. Winn resigned last week following an investigation into the claims against him.

The statement of no confidence calls for the resignation of Shein and Mazzoni Board President/Compliance Officer Jimmy Ruiz. It reads in part:

Accounts of sexual misconduct and medical negligence that former and current staff brought to the attention of the administration should have raised red flags a long time ago but were instead dismissed as baseless, even when evidence to support the claims….

Current leadership represents a culture of secrecy, poor oversight and complicity — which has allowed institutional racism and abuse of power and authority to flourish.…

Muhammad, who worked for the Mazzoni Center for about five years, told mic.com, “I think that pressure is on for her to resign and I want to make sure that this happens. That’s why I’m committing myself to not taking my meds until this happens. I want it to be clear this is how serious to me and the community. These allegations of sexual misconduct should be taken seriously.”

When an HIV-positive person stops taking their HIV medication, they run the risk of the virus infecting more of their body’s healthy blood cells. This can cause an increase in their bloodstream’s viral load. They also run the risk of the virus developing an immunity to their current medications, reducing their medication options afterwards.

(Featured image by Juanmonino via iStock Photography)