"Us Helping Us" pushes forward with expanding scope, respect for its roots, and celebration of the whole human being

Published: February 3, 2011

There are different ways to mark the anniversaries of Us Helping Us, People Into Living Inc. Bishop Kwabena Rainey Cheeks formed the organization in 1985. Incorporation followed in 1988. Other years brought other milestones, such as purchasing a building to call its own in 2001, and actually moving in after all the renovations in 2005.

When it comes to fighting HIV/AIDS, however – particularly in the District of Columbia, and particularly when much of the focus is on African-American gay and bisexual men – anniversaries are rarely occasions to celebrate. More often, they’re simply thorns pricking a community to remind them that the epidemic continues. It may look different than it did when it began, but it continues. The same can be said of UHU.

”Over our more than 20 years, we have become a much more comprehensive agency,” says Ron Simmons, who has served as the organization’s executive director since 1992. ”Back in ’88, we only served HIV-positive, black gay men. Now we serve HIV-negative, black gay men. We have a transgender drop-in center. We serve youth. We started doing testing for heterosexual women as well.

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