Joshua Brown, HIV Outreach and Health Educator

“We need to continue to raise awareness about HIV. We need to erase the stigma by making it less of a taboo subject to talk about.”

As a lifelong community advocate, Joshua Brown is a strong believer in the impact that outreach initiatives can have on a community. He was able to see that impact firsthand as part of his volunteer service as a Boy Scout during his youth and throughout his professional career after graduating from Xavier University with a criminal justice degree.

Joshua joined the Minority Health Coalition of Marion County in 2014 as its HIV Outreach and Health Educator, a role that was similar to the one he had while working at the Damien Center, a nonprofit in Indianapolis. He also has worked as a domestic violence advocate.

He believes that much more work needs to be done to raise awareness about HIV, especially the ongoing stigma of talking about it.

“From the perspective of someone who works in an organization focused on minority communities, I see a cultural conservatism,” Joshua says. “The way people think about HIV in those communities is still stuck in the 1990s when Magic Johnson announced he had HIV.”

A lot has changed since that time, Joshua pointed out. “The advances in medical treatment have really come a long way. We’re in an era in which people are living longer and healthier lives with HIV treatment and medication,” he says. “I don’t think young people are being educated about it in the public sphere.”

As part of his role as an HIV Outreach and Health Educator, Joshua regularly talks to people of different ages, including youth, about HIV and those medical advances.

“We do educational presentations and workshops that cover a whole spectrum of audiences, from schools to jails and homeless shelters,” he says. “We offer for anyone who wants to gain that type of educational knowledge about the disease that’s generally not talked about. We also offer counseling and testing for HIV and other STDs.”

Joshua also said he takes the time to interact with his audiences, which can be equally important to many of them. “I listen to a lot of stories,” he says.