William Booth Left Lasting Legacy in Ohio and Beyond | Equitas Health

Blog 12/15/23

William Booth Left Lasting Legacy in Ohio and Beyond

By Margaret L. Farnham

Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community lost a tireless advocate and dedicated friend in the passing of William Booth. The organizer/mobilizer for Ohio’s AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) died on December 12 at the age of 69.

Booth once worked in client services for AIDS Resource Center Ohio, now Equitas Health, and he helped establish the Miami Valley Positives 4 Positives support group for people living with HIV. His commitment to community outreach and advocacy earned him a 2016 Transforming Care Award from the Equitas Health Institute.

A long-time Dayton resident, Booth’s contributions to HIV prevention and education spread throughout Ohio and beyond. He worked out of Cincinnati and Columbus for AHF, but his reach extended statewide.

“William always wanted to make sure people in other parts of the state had access to resources and services,” said Randle B. Moore, community relations manager for Equitas Health. Moore collaborated with Booth and AHF on several outreach projects, including Equitas Health’s Mozaic program and the African American Male Wellness Walk in Northeast Ohio.

AHF is a global non-profit organization that provides HIV care and services to people in need. Since the Ohio locations do not provide clinical services, Booth referred AHF clients to Equitas Health for medical care and Ryan White services.

“When a lot of folks in Cincinnati or Dayton were looking for HIV medical care, he would refer them directly to Equitas Health. He wanted to make sure people could get the care they needed, and he knew our providers would offer that care,” said Moore.

A Virginia native, Booth attended Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia. He became a fierce advocate and activist after his move to Dayton and a 2002 HIV diagnosis. Booth spoke to lawmakers and wrote editorials to help end stigma and abolish laws that criminalize HIV. In a June 2022 guest editorial for the Dayton Daily News, Booth urged readers to contact their representatives and the governor about laws that, among other things, make it a felony crime for a person with HIV to spit on another person.

 “We now know that HIV is not transmitted through saliva. We know that people with undetectable viral loads can’t transmit the virus. But they can still go to jail for a crime they can’t commit,” Booth wrote. He ended the article by asking people to be kind to one another and to help end the HIV epidemic.

Booth also worked with the Ohio Health Modernization Movement (OHMM) to address these outdated laws, and he once took a group of 30 individuals to Washington and the U.S. Capitol. “He was a huge advocate when it came to public policy and community engagement,” said Moore.

Mel Carroll, program manager for Gender Affirming Care at Equitas Health, called Booth a “powerhouse.” Carroll said that even though Booth was an expert fundraiser, he often used his own money to support projects and programs.

Carroll called Booth an important mentor and trusted friend. “He took me under his wing as a Black man. Anything I needed – anything – I could go to him,” said Carroll, who also is a co-founder of Dayton Black Pride.

Whether it was Dayton Black Pride or an Equitas Health-sponsored event, Carroll said Booth always showed up. “He was somebody who cared about his community and cared about humanity. This is a great loss,” said Carroll.