Employee fired by St. Louis AIDS group launches new organization
February 26 2004 1:00 AM ET
Erise Williams, the former executive director of St. Louis's Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS, has launched his own organization to help combat the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in minority communities, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Williams was fired from BABAA after using federal grant money to the agency to hire a star of gay pornographic films to appear at an event dedicated to safer sex and syphilis prevention. Reports indicated the porn star, Edgar Gaines, who performs as Bobby Blake, stripped at the event, appearing only in a towel and boots, and allowed attendees to fondle him. BABAA senior director James Green also was fired over Gaines's appearance.
Williams told the Post-Dispatch that being fired from BABAA was "life-changing" and that "it was like a part of my life being sucked out of me because I had some time ago decided to dedicate my life to [HIV and STD prevention]."
Williams now heads a group called Williams and Associates, which aims to "serve as a catalyst in the fight against HIV/AIDS while providing life-enhancing education, disease prevention, health promotion, and care services that address the health disparities of minorities in the St. Louis region with particular regard to African-Americans," according to its mission statement. The organization currently is funded by several small grants.