At an age when most people are still figuring out what they want to do with their lives, Devin Hursey is changing lives. After graduating two years ago from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Hursey is pursuing dual master's degrees in public health and strategic communications at the University of Missouri. Previously, Columbia worked as a peer educator at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, helping people living with HIV stick to their regimens and guiding newly diagnosed folks through treatment.
Hursey's advocacy shows how passionate he is about addressing health disparities, especially among Black people living with HIV. As a member of the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition, Hursey lobbies for changes to antiquated laws that criminalize people with HIV. Then, there's his work for Black LGBTQ+ folks at the organization Blackout KC, and on a national level as a member of the CDC/HRSA Advisory Committee on HIV and Viral Hepatitis, an ambassador for the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation's AIDS Campaign, a steering committee member for MPACT global action for gay men's health and rights, a communications chair for U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus, and a founding member of the Black United Leadership Initiative, "which has educated and provided guidance to Black advocates fighting against HIV criminalization," Hursey told the de Beaumont Foundation, which named him one of its "40 Under 40 in Public Health."
The key to tackling health disparities among Black people with HIV is educating those in charge -- including medical industry executives and even prominent HIV advocates -- about the realities of life for this marginalized group, he said.
"We can't end the HIV epidemic using tools that threaten the freedom of Black people," Hursey tells Plus.