Global Experts to Discuss Stigma of HIV and other Conditions at Howard University

Stigma Activist Hydeia Broadbent will be a featured speaker at this year's conference

Stigma Activist Hydeia Broadbent will be a featured speaker at this year's conference.


WASHINGTON - Howard University is set to bring together a full roster of international and regional community activists and health officials at its Sixth Annual International Conference on Stigma on Friday, Nov. 20.

This year’s speakers are at the forefront of confronting HIV/AIDS and other health-related conditions. The International Conference on Stigma takes place at the Armour J. Blackburn Center, 2397 Sixth Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20059.

Hydeia Broadbent, the keynote speaker, was born with HIV and adopted as an infant. She began a career as a speaker and AIDS activist at the age of six. She went on to capture the attention of the world from Oprah Winfrey’s couch and the pages of Essence where she played an important role in humanizing the HIV epidemic in the 1990s.

Director/Producer Valerie Cummings, from Los Angeles, will show her documentary, “Women at Risk: Black Women and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic,” which will be followed by a panel discussion.

Loretta Jay, executive director of  B Stigma-Free, along with fellow activists Laurin Hodge, Patrick Henry, Denise Spivak and Melinda Watman, will hold a workshop to discuss stigma of obesity, mental illness, LGBT and incarceration.

Major speakers from the regional and international community include (in alphabetical order):

  • Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, director of the Fairfax County Department of Health in Virginia. She will discuss her pioneering work with faith-based communities to eradicate the stigma of HIV.
  • Cecilia Chung, senior strategist of the Transgender Law Center, San Francisco, and internationally recognized leader of HIV policies, LGBT equality and social justice.
  • Laurin Hodge, executive director of Mission: Launch Inc., a non-profit she created after the unexpected incarceration of her mother. She will talk about the social stigma people face upon release from prison.
  • Megan McLemore, senior researcher in the Health and Human Rights Division of Human Rights, whose research explores HIV/AIDS and drug policy, particularly its impact on sex workers, transgender women and incarcerated people.
  • Sean Strub, long-time HIV survivor, original member of ACT UP and founder of POZ magazine. He also founded the Sero project, a network of people fighting for freedom from HIV stigma and injustice.
  • Melinda J. Watman of Obesity Action Coalition. She will discuss ways to improve awareness and elimination of weight bias, discrimination and fat-shaming.

“Stigma is the major reason why the HIV epidemic continues. It is also the biggest barrier to treatment of addictions and mental illness,” said Dr. Sohail Rana, conference director and professor of pediatrics at the Howard University College of Medicine. “We are all responsible for this stigma, and we must work together to eliminate it.”

This year’s conference expands its scope to include stigma of incarceration, obesity, mental illness and human rights of the LGBT community.

The annual international stigma conference is coordinated each year by the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health in the Howard University College of Medicine and Howard University Hospital. The event will feature multiple tracks covering 10 sessions across the day that will facilitate in-depth conversations across a range of topics. A Stigma Art Project will display the works of local artists, and scientific posters will be exhibited.

Additional speakers and panelists include (in alphabetical order):

  • Rev. Todd A. Brown, pastor, First Baptist Church of Chesterbrook, McLean, Virginia
  • Dwayne Lawson Brown, HIV activist, Whitman Walker Health, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. Agorom Dike, executive director, Caribbean and African Faith-based Leadership Conference
  • Dr. Walter Faggett, pediatrician
  • Patrick Hendry, vice president, Mental Health America
  • Loretta Jay, executive director, B Stigma Free, Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Mark S. King, activist and blogger (
  • Rodney McCoy, Jr., health educator, Nova Salud, Falls Church, Virginia
  • Garland Nixon, WPFW radio host and progressive political commentator
  • Dr. Natella Rakhmanina, special immunology, Children’s National Medical Center
  • Linda Scruggs, director, Ribbon Consulting Group
  • Rev. Keron Sadler, manager of Health Programs, NAACP National Headquarters
  • Martha Sichone-Cameron of  The Women’s Collective, Washington, D.C.
  • Denise Spivak of CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
  • Bernadine Toye, Mid-Atlantic AIDS Education and Training Center
  • David Watt, Mr. Friendly HIV anti-stigma campaign
  • Justin Wooley, marketing consultant, minority health and HIV prevention
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