Last month, Marvelyn Brown held a press conference in Shepard Hall for students in my Intro to Journalism class.Marvelyn (that’s her in the photos), an HIV/AIDS activist and author of the book, The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive, discussed her life and work. After, she answered dozens of intimate questions about how she contracted HIV and how she lives with it. She also signed copies of her book. Based on her lively, no-holds barred lecture, I assigned students to write a news story about the visit.
Here is the first of several of the best articles. Simone Tharkur, who is double majoring in English and MCA and also plays on the women’s basketball team, wrote the story below. (Let’s hope she finds time to minor in journalism!)
Marvelyn Brown Educates City College on HIV/AIDS by Simone Tharkur
Marvelyn Brown, author of The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive, proves ignorance isn’t always bliss with the testimony of her life, before and after contracting HIV. Last Thursday, the international AIDS activist spoke at City College about becoming infected in 2003. Brown, 26, is the CEO and independent consultant for Marvelous Connections and works to raise HIV/AIDS awareness throughout the world.
At 19, Brown met “Prince Charming” and immediately knew he was the one. “We were in love,” she recalled, describing the night that changed her life forever. “He told me he didn’t have a condom, and I thought ‘what’s the worst that could happen after this night, pregnancy?’ We continued to have sex without a condom.” When she contracted HIV from her “Prince Charming,” she says it just didn’t make sense to her. “He was perfect,” she says.
The Tennessee native was just as uneducated about HIV as her community was. “Some people thought you slept with this guy and got the H, slept with this guy and got the I, slept with this guy and got the V and that’s how a person contracts HIV, but that’s not how it works,” Brown says. “I contracted the H, the I, and the V from one guy.”
She believes her life would be different if formally educated on the risks of unprotected sex. “My sex education with my mom started and stopped with ‘don’t get pregnant.’ That was my sex education, that’s all I remembered.” Brown later added “I know how ignorance can play a part of being infected with HIV,” and “the only thing that would’ve stopped me from being [HIV] positive is if I loved myself enough to protect myself.”
Brown speaks at many colleges and universities educating youth through her story. She declares, “the work that I do, I’ve dedicated my life to” and promises to continue being actively involved with HIV education. She believes “you, the individual, have your own responsibility” and “the earlier you know the faster you can take control of your body.”