"My advocacy for the elimination of HIV/AIDS came into being from the moment of the first person who died in my arms in New York City, in 1978," Harold Brown wrote of witnessing the earliest days of the epidemic while studying for his doctorate in the city. "I saw my own death through the lives of the many persons who [were] suffering from the lack of care; a failing response that denied our humanity."
Since those dark days, the now-retired professor and current community scholar at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has devoted his life to helping others, especially others living with HIV. Brown has served on numerous HIV organization boards over the years and steered countless events and delegations in his community -- most recently for this year's International AIDS Conference, for which Brown held virtual meetings throughout.
Carrie Foote, chair of the HIV Modernization Movement-Indiana, describes Brown as a tireless social justice activist working for people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and those living with HIV in Indiana.
"Harold is a long-term thriver living with HIV who has been an advocate making a positive difference in the lives of people living with HIV in our state for decades," Foote tells Plus.
Now in his 70s, Brown refuses to slow down.
"My life looks very different today from what it did when I first became sick with HIV," Brown says. "Life has been full of opportunities, experiences, and tragedies. There is still both racism and stigma out there, but I will continue to fight as long as I live."