Alicia Diggs has been living with HIV for 20 of her 49 years, and she’s made good use of every year. Not only is she an author, a PhD, and a fierce advocate for people living with HIV, she’s also a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, the manager for the Office of Community Engagement of the North Carolina-Chapel Hill Center for AIDS Research, and a member of many other HIV support organizations.
“Through my trials and tribulations, I made a decision to fight and stand strong as a woman living with HIV so that I can help my fellow brothers and sisters fight and stand strong,” she says about her decision to be a leader in her community. “It has been important to me to help build coalitions and solidarity within and amongst our diverse communities so that we can dispel the myths, rid the stigma, and educate others about HIV.”
Being included on this list reminds her that there are “so many amazing, inspiring, and fabulous leaders out there doing this work,” and that the work she does really does make a difference.
Before she became a leader herself, Diggs says she had other leaders and community members who supported, protected, and pushed her, and she wants to live up to that legacy, passing the torch to others like herself.
“As people living with HIV, it is important that we know that decisions about us cannot be made without us. Our voices and input are the key to ending the HIV epidemic,” she says. “If you feel like the door is not open to you, create your own door. If you feel there is not room at the table for you, create your own table. Do not take no for an answer and make sure that your voice is heard because you are the change we want and need to see in the world.”