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13 Moments in Black Celebrity HIV/AIDS Activism

February 7, 2013


Marvelyn Brown

Marvelyn Brown Tells The Naked Truth (2008)

Marvelyn Brown was diagnosed with HIV at 19 years old, unaware that the virus was spread through unprotected sex. After her diagnosis, Marvelyn Brown became an outspoken advocate and acquired a hefty, hefty resume of speaking engagements and community work. In 2004, she won the Positive Youth Leadership Award from the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA). In 2007, she won an Emmy for her public service announcement with MTV's "Think HIV" campaign, and in 2009, she won the DO Something Award, which resulted in her face and story being featured on millions of Doritos bags nationwide. Brown also wrote a memoir, The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful, and (HIV) Positive.

In her book, she says, "How did I not know that the virus was sexually transmitted? I felt I had been robbed by my community, my school and my church. The mantras I had heard over and over again growing up -- 'Don't do drugs; don't get pregnant; don't smoke' -- suddenly seemed so worthless. Never had someone mentioned the possibility of me, Marvelyn Brown, contracting HIV from unprotected sex. I had seen it as something only Africans or gay men got." She expanded on that quote in an interview with

She has appeared on MTV, BET, America's Next Top Model and Oprah. She has also toured colleges and universities worldwide. She is now the CEO and an independent HIV consultant for Marvelous Connections.

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