#EngStigma: Howard University to Host 2019 International Stigma Conference


Kahlib Barton-Garçon, 28-year-old HIV Activist, to Keynote Conference

WASHINGTON (November 4, 2019)Howard University and Howard University Hospital will host the annual International Conference on Stigma on Friday, Nov. 22. The theme of this year’s conference is “Youth Power Up for a Stigma Free Future” and it will feature 28-year-old HIV activist Kahlib Barton-Garçon as the keynote speaker.

Each year the International Conference on Stigma brings together a full roster of international and regional community activists and health officials to Washington, D.C. The purpose of the conference is to end the stigma surrounding HIV, mental health, and other intersecting stigmas, while being an important voice for marginalized people.

“Stigma is the major reason why the HIV epidemic continues and is the biggest barrier to treatment of addictions and mental illness,” says Dr. Sohail Rana, professor of pediatrics at the Howard University College of Medicine. “I am extremely grateful that we will be holding our 10th consecutive International Conference on Stigma at Howard University.”

Dr. Rana, the conference director, says youth living with HIV face unique and insurmountable challenges in the way HIV-related stigma influences their quality of life and adherence to care. Youth voices are critical to inform the development of interventions that will reduce stigma, particularly among youth in communities of color.

The Howard University stigma conference is coordinated each year by the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health in the College of Medicine and Howard University Hospital. The event promises a day full of personal stories, music, dance, artwork, research presentations and posters.

The major sponsors of the event are Gilead Sciences, DC Department of Health, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Howard University School of Social Work, the Mid-Atlantic AIDS Education and Training Center, and the DC Center For AIDS Research.

Kahlib Barton-Garçon will address his own struggles with stigma. Barton was diagnosed with HIV during his first week of school as a sophomore at Prairie View A&M University, located in Prairie View, Texas. Barton said he didn’t confront the reality of his status for another three years because, being in rural Texas, he didn’t have access to the resources necessary for proper treatment.

 “I'm going to make the case for people with lived experience, particularly youth with lived experience,” Barton-Garcon says.  “Even though they may not have degrees in social work or psychology, they do have a Ph.D. in their lived experience. They know exactly what that experience is like. No one else is a better authority than they are.”

Barton-Garçon currently lives in Washington, D.C. and works at True Colors United, an organization dedicated to ending homelessness.

Speakers, panelists, and performers for the Howard University International Stigma Conference include:

  • Richard Adkins, community advocate
  • Tranisha Darlene Arzah, HIV STI tester, Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center
  • Barrie School Choir
  • Derek Dangerfield, Ph.D., assistant professor, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and author of “A Life Course Exploration of Developmental Pathways to Sexual Risk among Black Sexual Minority Men”
  • Daniel Driffin, interim director of Programs, Living Room, Atlanta, Co-Founder THRIVE SS
  • Eleanor Roosevelt Lady Raiders Step Team
  • M. Gregory Green, advocate, Columbia, S.C.
  • Asiimwe Hajarah, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Ambassador, Uganda
  • Struther Van Horn, The Influence of Structural Stigma on Mental Illness: State Level Structural Stigma and Quality of Life and Attitudes toward Treatment Seeking
  • Richard Hutchinson, executive director and co- founder and project director of He Is Valuable, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.
  • Michael Kharfen, senior deputy director of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration in the DC Department of Health
  • Michael “Miss Mikey” Lamb, Project RED Paint Inc., Atlanta, Ga. 
  • Warren L. Miller, Jr, Ph.D., MSW, LICSW, SAP, BCD., assistant professor, BSW Program Rhode Island College, School of Social Work
  • Laura Nyblade, Ph.D., senior research health policy analyst, RTI International, Washington, D.C.
  • Murray Penner, executive director of Prevention Access Campaign, North America
  • Sohail Rana, M.D., professor of Pediatrics and Child Health, Howard University
  • Ron Simmons, Ph.D, Ron Simmons Consulting, LLC
  • Blaine Smith, Youth Perceptions of Stigma: Towards an LGBTQ+ Youth Wellness Model
  • Maranda Ward, Ed.D., assistant professor of Clinical Research and Leadership, George Washington University
  • Ronald Wilcox, M.D., professor and chief of Infectious Diseases, Howard University

About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.

Media Contact: Sholnn Freeman, sholnn.freeman@howard.edu