In the Fight Against HIV/AIDS, We're All In This Together

Published: February 11, 2015

HRC Blog
Original Article:

Justin Lofton considers himself a “warrior” against HIV/AIDS, a fitting term for a young gay Black man living in Mississippi. In 2013, African Americans accounted for 76 percent of the new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in Mississippi; and in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the state capitol, Jackson, ranked fourth among all major metropolitan areas in the nation for the highest rates of HIV infection.

While these statistics are staggering, Lofton knows all too well the reasons Mississippians have thus far failed to curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their state.

“There’s no talking about it, no communication about HIV,” Lofton told HRC. “Resources exist, but people don’t have access to them, especially in rural areas where people don’t always have jobs and can’t always afford to get to treatment.”

Despite these challenges, Lofton said he is “passionately committed to supporting those in my community who are most affected by HIV.”

“Doing this work in a conservative state is a challenge,” he explained. “People don’t want to create dialogue. They want to push it under the rug and act like it’s not real, instead of listening to our voices.”

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