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#71 of Our Most Amazing HIV-Positive People of 2016: Eugene Huffman

Eugene Huffman

This artist, one half of a serodiscordant couple, weaves activism into his personal and professional life.

By day, Eugene Huffman, 43, is a paralegal at a law firm in Southern California. But by night, he is an artist and musician who is living with HIV. For the past five years, he has been crafting his artistic persona and currently serves as resident artist and art director for the Art Hearts Fashion Gallery for L.A. Fashion Week.

“Painting for me, besides being my talent and passion, serves as a form of meditation and an emotional outlet where I delve within myself and translate those feelings to paint on canvas,” Huffman says. “It brings me a cathartic joy and happiness like one I’ve never known. I guess you could say it’s a healthy addiction.”

Beyond his artistic passions, Huffman is an avid HIV-activist who shares his story whenever possible. In his own words, Huffman describes the importance of spreading his message and how he finds ways to serve as an activist in his everyday life.

“I believe wholeheartedly that the more visibility I have as a public persona, the better ability I have to give back.  This also gives me a platform to bring HIV and AIDS to the conversation, to educate, and to help erase stigma and bring visibility to topics that need to have public awareness. I read recently that the CDC reported 50 percent of youth with HIV in the United States don’t know they are infected. When I mention PrEP to others I come across many people that don’t know what it is. There’s still work to be done, and I want to contribute to that in any way I possibly can."

Every donates a portion of the proceeds of any sales from his gallery exhibitions to an HIV/AIDS organizations, especially two of his favorites: The Stigma Project and The Thrive Tribe. And as an artist, his social media profiles always promote HIV education, topics, and discussion.

He says he "wrestled with my involvement" with With Art Hearts Fashion "because one of the main sponsors is AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an organization that doesn’t align with my values. However, I worked that to my advantage and found my place. I could be the visible person that is HIV-positive, an activist, and advocate, and present my views to others there. I recently had an interview by AHF on the red carpet and I was asked as an HIV-positive person what my views on safe sex were. My statement was that there needed to be more education on PrEP. Here we have a medication that prevents people from getting HIV, and yet that isn’t a focus when it should be. I’m sure that footage will likely never see the light of day, but I’m making my statement and getting that information out there."

Activism isn't just part of his art; it's actally woven into Huffman's personal life. ""I am part of a serodiscordant couple with my amazing partner and fellow creative soul, motion picture costumer Fredrick Faith, who is HIV-negative," Huffman says. "So we have plans in the very near future to do an educational campaign on serodiscordant couples. You really don’t see a lot of that coming up in conversation — not to mention you say the word 'serodiscordant' — and it often follows that you have to tell others what its definition is.”

To see some of Huffman’s artwork, visit here.

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