Dealing with the stigma of AIDS will be the topic of an all-day conference at Howard University Nov. 30.
The Third Annual International Conference on Stigma will be held at Howard’s Blackburn Center. The free, all-day conference will feature speakers from university hospitals in the Washington, D.C. area, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and speakers from Uganda and Peru.
The keynote speaker will be Jeanne White Ginder, mother of Ryan White, the HIV-positive teenager who, after being diagnosed, found that he had to contend with both the disease and social ostracism because he was HIV-positive. His expulsion from middle school was linked to being an AIDS patient.
A hemophiliac who contracted AIDS from a contaminated needle, White was an early victim of the disease in the 1980s. His return to school after his HIV diagnosis drew protests from students and teachers at Kokomo, Ind. school he attended. He died in 1990 after an eight-year struggle with the disease. Shortly after his death Congress enacted the Ryan White Care Act that now serves as one of the primary funding sources, along with Medicaid, for AIDS treatment.
The conference will address ways to deal with the stigma of an HIV or AIDS diagnosis. Currently round 1.2 million Americans are HIV-positive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.