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Moving Beyond Stigma

NBJC Executive Director and CEO, Sharon Lettman-Hicks was part of a roundtable which included Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, A. Cornelius Baker and Hutson W. Inniss to discuss HIV/AIDS issues in our communities.  The article, excerpted below, is available in full at

HIV/AIDS isn’t the only health crisis facing black Americans, who also have higher rates of diseases such as diabetes and sickle-cell anemia. But understanding the real reasons for why new infections have risen dramatically has proved duly challenging. Far too often, experts and advocates say, the media have been obsessed with the “down-low” phenomenon and the false assumptions that come with it rather than concerned with how factors such as poverty and access to health care fuel the epidemic.

The Advocate recently spoke with leading experts on HIV/AIDS about how it affects African-Americans, and what both the administration and the LGBT community need to consider in order to successfully fight the disease and the stigma it sows.

Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, executive director and CEO, National Black Justice Coalition: There is a tremendous amount of progress being made, and it’s not just with HIV/AIDS. [The Department of Health and Human Services] has done an amazing job in reaching out to the full LGBT equality agenda in recognizing that there are major health issues and service issues around our community. But we can do more to be out front. The LGBT community as a whole needs to regain a priority in the conversation about HIV/AIDS, because I do believe it’s been relegated to HIV/AIDS-specific organizations.




The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.