"Marvelyn Brown never knew much about HIV and AIDS. To her, it was a disease that plagued poor children in Africa and gay men. What does a young, black female athlete in a monogamous relationship need to know about that disease?
"Seven years ago, at age 19, ... she learned her lesson too late, when she was diagnosed with the virus. ...
"'It was never my intention to be an activist, but as I grew my knowledge grew, and I wanted to bring about change,' she says. So she spoke out. She shared her story (www.marvelynbrown.com) with radio stations, CNN's 'Black in America,' 'Oprah.' She did Emmy Award-winning public service announcements, worked with BET's safe-sex campaign and founded her own organization, Marvelous Connections. And she wrote a book, 'The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful, and (HIV) Positive.'
"On Wednesday, she will be at the Kansas City Library Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., to share her story. The presentation starts at 6:30 p.m. with a reception at 6 p.m.
"In Kansas City, more than 5,700 people are living with HIV and AIDS. According to the Missouri Office of Minority Health, the rate of infection for black people is nearly 10 times that of whites.
"Marvelyn says the problem in the black community is the myths surrounding the virus. Despite the numbers, people still believe they won't be infected. She says they see Magic Johnson and think HIV is not an issue anymore.
"'It's not on their radar, but HIV is still very real. Yes, people are living with it and doing well, but there are still people dying from it, too.' ...
"'When I tell my story to people, a lot of times, it's the first time HIV is real to them. They think I am the first person they have met with HIV. But statistically speaking, everyone knows someone who is positive, whether they have been told or not.'"
To learn more about local HIV/AIDS efforts, visit the following links:
- AIDS Service Foundation
- Kansas City Free Health Clinic
- Good Samaritan Project
- Hope Care Center
- Save Inc.
- AIDS Walk Kansas City