Meet Tim Vincent, capacity builder tackling health inequities

Tim Vincent
Rapper and LGTBQ activist Milan Christopher talked about being an out gay black man in the music industry. Filmmaker David Weissman shared his film Conversations with Gay Elders and held a cross-generational conversation. Minister Rob Newells’ workshop addressed the ways churches can hurt or heal.

These leaders and more brought together hundreds of men in Oakland for a free, community-driven event called Mind, Body, Soul in January, produced and hosted by the California Prevention Training Center under the leadership of Tim Vincent. The event celebrated and supported the health and well-being of diverse gay communities. It went beyond healthcare; they dove into dynamic and personal issues like relationship communication and spirituality. Participants connected in workshops and discussion sessions and, as one participant said, they aimed to “improve the holistic health and wellness of my community.”

Creating this type of safe space for diverse groups to relate is just one of the ways that Tim Vincent promotes health equity in his role as the Senior Capacity Building Assistance Specialist at CAPTC. Reflecting on his work as we approach the end of Pride month, Tim says, “A value of ours is that we are supporting and being instructive to our audiences about the diverse needs of the LGBT community, and how important it is to understand some of the challenges, as well as the resiliency and strength we have in the community.”

Tim has over 25 years of experience working in healthcare for people living with HIV. At CAPTC, he trains social workers, nurses, health educators and providers around the country. Strides in medicine have provided better treatments so people living with HIV can maintain healthy lives. Tim sees the next big challenge to the field as addressing the social determinants that block people’s access to these medical advances. “We do a lot of work around examining the impact of stigma and building sensitivity for providers who are working with LGBTQ communities. Some of our work has focused on helping providers to understand the context in which people may be living in order for them to better address the barriers that exist.”

Those challenges inspire Tim to see the major structural changes required to deliver accessible and respectful health care. That includes increasing the diversity of the workforce and making sure services are accessible to everyone. He has worked with his colleagues to develop curriculum on structural interventions to address social determinants of health as a means to respond to current HIV-related disparities. “What often happens is that people work on an individual level to support prevention or treatment efforts rather than working on a larger community level or an organizational level or even societal level to make a more lasting change.”

Tim hopes to build on the success of Mind, Body, Soul with another event in Oakland next year or to take this model and adapt it for other locations and continue working toward systemic change. As the LGBTQ community faces fresh attacks on their rights, providers need the sensitivity and knowledge to serve them. Tim is taking that challenge head on. “I want to feel like I’ve inspired people and give providers a sense of empowerment that they really are doing wonderful work – especially if they continue to be honest about themselves and think about the intricate ways in which their clients might be challenged.”