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Jeremiah Johnson

HIV Project Director

Jeremiah Johnson is TAG’s HIV Project Director. Like so many working in the field of HIV/AIDS, Jeremiah’s career in HIV/AIDS advocacy has grown from his personal experiences with the virus. Jeremiah was 25 when he was diagnosed with HIV—part of a young gay male demographic that is especially vulnerable to HIV infection in the United States. Serving as a Peace Corps volunteer at the time, Jeremiah immediately found himself dealing with discrimination when the Peace Corps decided to dismiss him from service based solely on his HIV status. He took action, and with the help of the ACLU he soon had the Peace Corps’s policy overturned. The experience fueled his passion for advocacy and, ever since, he has been determined to combat other laws and policies that discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS or those who are most at risk for it.

Prior to joining TAG in 2013, first as HIV Prevention Research and Policy Coordinator, Jeremiah sought out experiences and education in order to better understand where the system failed him and where it continues to fail others in terms of HIV treatment and prevention. This drive has taken him to Peru to work with an AIDS service organization; to rural Colorado, where he worked as a case manager and prevention specialist for two years; to an internship with the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; and, most recently, to Columbia University to study public health. Along the way, he has seen a great deal of confusion around HIV and encountered misconceptions about those living with the virus or those most at risk for it. As part of TAG, he works to counteract this by promoting better surveillance methods, effective utilization of existing and future research, and prevention strategies that take into account the true complexity of HIV in the United States.

Jeremiah was honored by POZ magazine as one of the top 100 HIV/AIDS activists in the United States in 2010.



In this talk, Jeremiah Johnson brings into question the role of fear and shame in the prevention and treatment of HIV. Through his personal journey with HIV, Johnson explains the stigma surrounding the disease and how he successfully changed, through advocacy, the Peace Corp's policy enabling HIV positive people to serve. Johnson teaches us that health campaigns should be designed using positive messaging, instead of fear, to promote safe behavior and to conquer the epidemic.

Jeremiah Johnson is a recent graduate of the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. His primary interest is in the effects of HIV-related stigma on people living with HIV and those most at risk for transmission. Diagnosed with HIV in 2008, Jeremiah has experienced consequences from stigma and discrimination firsthand. Serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer at the time of his diagnosis, the Peace Corps dismissed Jeremiah when he tested positive. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, he later changed Peace Corps' policy to allow positive volunteers to continue their service. Since then, Jeremiah has continued to raise awareness around issues and policies that contribute to the spread of HIV and negatively impact the lives of those living with the virus. For two years, he worked as a case manager and prevention specialist at the Northern Colorado AIDS Project. There, he learned that there is still much work to be done to improve the quality of life for all people living with HIV. Most recently, Jeremiah completed his practicum at the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS where he worked on a nationwide study to quantify and describe HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the US.