Jenkins alumni battle spread of HIV in Africa

Published: July 19, 2011

LaRon E. Nelson’s was 12 years old when he learned his estranged grandfather was dying.
 
“They didn’t call it HIV,” said Nelson, remembering family conversations about the grandfather he never knew.
 
“I remembered that people were getting this disease, like Rock Hudson and Magic Johnson. And how I understood it was that this guy, my grandfather, had also contracted this disease and was dying.”
 
Nelson, who grew up in the Carver Heights neighborhood, later learned that his grandfather was gay.
 
“That stuck in my head, the idea of social marginalization,” Nelson said. “I was curious about the health of people who are marginalized within a community, like gay people or teenage parents.”
 
Today, 21 years later, Nelson has become the recipient of a $100,000 grant from the Canadian government to reduce the spread of HIV among African men.
 
He is one of two thirtysomething Jenkins High School graduates to receive recent acclaim for their work fighting HIV.
 
Dr. Paul Young, a pediatrician in Lesotho, southern Africa, was featured in an April 3 story in The New York Times on efforts to battle the epidemic in some of the most desperate areas.

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