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Danielle M. Campbell – QandA
How has HIV affected my life and what motivated me to become an advocate?
HIV has affected my life in many, many ways that have had profound impacts on when, where, how and I became an advocate. African- Americans and other people of African descent are consistently overrepresented among HIV diagnoses. Living with that fact keeps me focused in the HIV related efforts I lend myself to. It wasn’t until in college while working on a research project for a class, that I began learning more about some of the sociocultural and structural contexts that have long had negative impacts on people living with HIV, specifically women. The natural inquisitor in me pressed on to learn more; I had to know. From that single research project, and my interests in HIV science further spurred, I volunteered a food pantry at one of the largest AIDS Service Organizations in Orange County. From there, I had the privilege of membership of several prevention, research, and treatment community advisory boards; served in leadership capacities within my membership roles; participated in formal science and treatment fellowships, and research. My motivation to learn coupled with my own personal strife, keeps me grounded and determined to see this thing through till we find a CURE. For as long as we have someone diagnosed (both incident and prevalent) I will be there. I have been called to continue to this work from an unapologetically women-centered space.
What would an HIV cure mean to me and my community?
I had to sit and reflect at great lengths to find the appropriate words to respond to this question, so here goes. Finding an HIV CURE would be transcendental. It is more than the provision of a curative agent, it would be the culmination of a movement that started with loss of life and staunch advocacy and leadership of a few brave souls who may or may not have lived long enough to see it. HIV rests at the intersection of some of the nastiest societal ills: hate, homophobia, poverty, racism, patriarchy, sexism- I could go on, but I won’t While a cure for HIV may prevent the biological mechanisms from that allow HIV to wreak physical havoc, it will not cure any of the other perhaps less addressed factors that facilitates HIV’s mainstay in communities of color. A cure would mean half of the battle is won, but more will remain to be done.
What scientific and community engagement work excites me most about the DARE Collaboratory?
All of the work of the DARE collaboratory is exciting!!!!! However, if I had to chose the most exciting scientific engagement work, it’s the characterization of the latent reservoir. The latent reservoir is an exploratory hot bed in CURE research, and its understanding will perhaps bring us one step closer to a true sterilizing cure. My recent interests have been learning about the technology being developed to measure the reservoir. Being afforded a membership into the DARE collaboratory would be an honor and indeed a privilege not only for myself, but also for the countless other women who must be part of current and future discussions around CURE. Science has shown that HIV persists differently in men and women, and so too might a CURE.
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