2016-11-16 19:03:00

HIV 360° Fellow Spotlight: Milan Nicole Sherry

Earlier this year, HRC Foundation announced the inaugural class of the 2016 HIV 360° Fellowship Program. Made possible with generous support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, HIV 360° is a capacity-building fellowship program for young, non-profit leaders ready to take HIV-inclusive organizations and initiatives to the next level.

The HRC blog recently sat down with each of the fellows to discuss the program, their work, and their vision of an AIDS-free generation.

Milan Nicole Sherry, 25, is a Black trans revolutionist from New Orleans, Louisiana. Milan worked with the United States Department of Justice to address the transgender community’s experience inside of the Orleans Parish Prison, and she also helped lead BreakOUT!’s “We Deserve Better Campaign,” which prompted the New Orleans Police Department to adopt policies prohibiting racial and gender-based profiling. Milan is now a national board member of Positively Trans, a program of the Transgender Law Center.

How did you first get involved with the movement to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic? How, if at all, did that inspire you to become an HIV 360° Fellow?

HIV impacts so many of us and so many people we know and love. HIV became real for me when so many of my trans sisters started testing positive for HIV. I just knew I was going to be next since I was really no better or different than any of them. We were all sex workers at the time, which meant we were all much more likely to come into contact with HIV. Fortunately, I was able to educate myself about HIV, and I remain HIV-negative to this day. I now stand in my truth as a 25-year-old former sex worker, community organizer and mobilizer, and a proud HIV 360° Fellow.

Each fellow has been asked to design, implement, and evaluate a community service project to combat HIV transmission rates in their respective communities. Tell us about yours and what you hope to accomplish with it.

The goal of my community service project is to combat HIV transmission rates in and around New Orleans by bringing Black and Latina transgender women together to learn about the current realities of HIV, including the importance of evidence-based approaches to HIV prevention such as condoms and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. By tackling this issue, I hope to help the women build community across racial lines, as well as support them in taking steps to reduce their chances of contracting HIV in the first place.

What is one key learning you’ve gained from the fellowship program? What have you enjoyed the most about it?

I’ve met some amazing individuals through the HIV 360° Fellowship Program, including all of the other fellows. I’ve also really enjoyed the diversity of workshops offered at each of the three, skills-building retreat in Washington, D.C. I’ve been able to take away something new and practical from each one!

How can people learn more about your organization and support the work you are doing?

Folks can check out Positively Trans and all of the great work we’re doing to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic in transgender communities.

This week, HRC marks Transgender Week of Awareness, dedicated to the progress, continued challenges, and unfinished work in the fight for transgender equality. Throughout the week, HRC will dedicate each day to urgent and important issues facing the transgender community, including support for youth and families, workplace equality, access to life-saving and inclusive health care, and combatting violence against the transgender community. The week concludes with with Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20 when the community comes together for vigils around the country to honor those lost in the past year. Learn more at hrc.im/TransAwarenessWeek.

To learn more about the HIV 360° fellowship program itself, click here. Also, check out:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI1ZVOEvT3o]