As an activist against HIV/AIDS, twenty nine year old Stephanie Janelle Brown has faced many obstacles in life but still has in her heart to share her own experience being diagnosed with the virus at the young age of nineteen in hopes that others will not make the same mistake in trusting someone with their life before loving themselves first.
Born November 10, 1986 in Staunton, VA Stephanie grew up in a typical military home moving from state to state with her two older brothers. She was an Honor Roll student and was very active in school playing sports and participating in the school choir. After completing high school in May 2005 at Seventy First High School in Fayetteville, NC she entered into college at Fayetteville State University.
Despite being diagnosed with HIV at nineteen right before her sophomore year at Fayetteville State, Stephanie continued with school and graduated in May 2011 with a BA in Mass Communications from Fayetteville State University. After graduating she quit working to continue her career and passion for being a HIV/AIDS speaker and educator. In the late summer of 2012 Stephanie saw a post from MTV on Facebook calling for HIV positive individuals to share their story in a special documentary for World AIDS Day. She didn’t hesitate to reply to the post and she received a reply back that same night. A month later MTV showed up at her one bedroom apartment in Fayetteville NC and recorded her life in a short weekend.
Since the premiere, Stephanie has been a part of numerous panel discussions including being a keynote speaker at USCA 2013 in New Orleans, LA. She has also participated in a global campaign called Empowered with Greater Than AIDS alongside mega R&B artist and HIV advocate Alicia Keys.
Currently Stephanie is generating a movement called M.A.D.U (minds against destruction using unity) to help eliminate HIV stigma and discrimination by talking more with the youth, spreading HIV/AIDS awareness and knowledge in our communities, and motivating others that are positive to speak up against this epidemic and all destruction crippling our neighborhoods. Through M.A.D.U the silence will be broken, voices will be heard and our minds will unite.
“I did not think I would see six months later after my diagnosis before getting involved in my passion for HIV education let alone nine years later to tell an amazing story about my continuing survival. This virus taught me a lot about myself and it helped to me to develop more into the woman I am today. I will be loved by a man, there’s no doubt in that. I will have children and I plan to have an empire. I am not my disbeliefs anymore. I no longer live in fear. I am love, I am hope. I am grace. I am a force. I am standing. I am because I chose to be. I am Stephanie J. Brown but please just call me Steph.”