Fighting for health justice in 2020

When I was offered the opportunity to lead JustUs Health last April, I knew two things: the organization had been through a lot of change, and its future had incredible potential to keep improving lives.

Building on a legacy of nearly four decades leading the fight against HIV and AIDS, our integration of LGBTQ health and elder care advocacy last year positioned JustUs Health to have an even bigger impact. Our new ventures providing innovative mental health care and aging services are reaching new audiences and touching more members of our communities.

Moving into 2020, we’re refocused our work with an updated mission and renewed commitment to achieve it which I would like to share with you.

The new mission of JustUs Health is to work for equitable health care access and outcomes for people who experience injustice at the intersection of health status and identity.

JustUs Health centers our work on individuals and communities at risk of and living with HIV or facing barriers to equitable health care access and outcomes because of their identity as gender, sexual and/or racial minorities. 

To advance our mission over the next three years, we will focus on six strategies:

Embrace and lead a campaign to End HIV. With even greater urgency we will continue to lead community-based efforts to End HIV by ensuring HIV testing is wide-spread and easy to access, fighting for PrEP access, and combating HIV stigma by promoting U=U as one of the best ways for people living with HIV to have long, healthy lives. Keeping clients connected to care is at the core of our work. We have the tools to end HIV now, and it’s time to make it happen.

Expand our training to providers of health and older-adult services. A critical component of ending health disparities and injustice is educating health and older-adult care providers about current science and inclusive care practices. We will expand this work as a sustainable, statewide social enterprise that ensures more quality care is available to those who need it.

Respond to the growing needs of older LGBTQ+ and HIV communities. Too many LGBTQ and HIV positive Minnesotans have difficulty finding and navigating quality elder care. Our newly launched Aging Initiative will fight isolation, strengthen services offered to older adults, and adapt existing services to better match the needs of our aging population.

Increase community engagement and empowerment. Forging partnerships, being a community voice, standing up as an advocate and being counted improves our community and gives it strength.  Our work will continue to empower those who need a voice.  

Explore options for expanding targeted LGBTQ+ direct care services. Building on the experience of our Behavioral Health clinic, we’ll continue to explore ways to address unmet health care needs in our community in ways that existing systems cannot.

Strengthen operational and financial stability. We will be good stewards of our community by ensuring that JustUs Health makes decisions that will continue to improve stability, so our clients are always well served. Thank you for being part of our support network to make this possible.

With a renewed sense of purpose and clear vision, I’m confident that JustUs Health will continue to have a significant impact, as we have for nearly forty years. JustUs Health exists because we need health care that works for all of us. I’m encouraged by the hundreds of individuals and organizations - people like you - who have supported our work over the past year and make our impact possible.

Thank you for your commitment to a future where all Minnesotans experience equitable health care access and outcomes and are able to live full, healthy lives.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Hanson Willis, CEO