Pastor Curt D. Thomas

Everyone who enters the glass doors of Renewed Church of Los Angeles is family, so much that Pastor Curt D. Thomas allowed unhoused members to sleep on his couch. After several members required emergency housing, Curt chatted with a close friend who owned multiple transitional housing facilities. Their spirited conversation led to the opening of his transitional housing facility, Momma’s House, which offers 22 beds. Since opening its doors in 2019, Momma’s House has housed over 200 individuals. Sixty percent of them reported being HIV positive, and 80% identified as LGBTQ+.

“We received funding from VIV Healthcare to create space for healthy housing for people who are HIV+ or at risk for being HIV+,” Curt stated.

At Momma’s House, educational material on sexually transmitted infections and condoms are available for clients, along with drop-in group talks about healthy sex practices.

When Curt was in middle school in the early 90s, the health of the choir director at his church, Pentecostal Holiness, deteriorated quickly. Another church member stated that the choir director contracted AIDS. That was the first time he had heard the word AIDS. The new word and the symptoms fused with homosexuality, creating an unshakeable image. The choir director passed away in 1998. During that same time, he explored his sexuality and engaged in unprotected sex, rationalizing it as AIDS happened to other people.

While at Stillman College in the early 2000s, a conversation with a peer counselor at a wellness clinic changed his mind about unprotected sex. The exchange allowed Curt to recognize that access prepares young people to engage in conversations about healthier sex practices. Conversations about sex practices encourage people to understand how HIV spreads and learn activities that contain zero risk and reduced risk.

Sometime after seeing the peer counselor, he stated, “A friend tested positive. I sat with him for hours. He thought that his life was over.”

His early experiences with HIV helped shape the client experience at Momma’s House and Curt’s activism. In 2016, Curt helped lead a training on how to break the silence around HIV through an open town hall discussion with local faith leaders and their congregations.

In 2017, he joined with over 120 local churches to acknowledge that HIV is a social justice issue and to enlighten their members about HIV.

Last year, he spoke at the 74th Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). According to the website HIV.gov, “PACHA provides advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective prevention, treatment, and cure of HIV disease and AIDS.”

He also sits on the task force for Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Curt went on to say, “eradicating AIDS can happen through education and finding sustainable drugs to manage and cure HIV.”

Until scientists develop a cure, all who are unhoused and HIV+ or at risk for being HIV+ will always have a bed waiting for them at Momma’s House, and Curt will greet them with a welcoming smile.

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