Health:  Wellness and Homelessness

De-Stigmatizing HIV

Chris Villalobos

Thrive Tribe Foundation

Workshop Session #2

9AM - 10AM -

Session Overview

Medication and management of HIV is advancing significantly, but there are increases in HIV diagnoses across the United States and globally. In an age when medication makes it possible for individuals to reach an undetectable viral level, preventing them from transmitting HIV, why is it that we are not seeing a decrease in annual diagnoses? The most direct answer is stigma. Stigma is defined as a mark of shame or discredit, which can lead a person to fear entering that particular circumstance. In the case of HIV, stigma has enveloped this virus so greatly that society fears and chooses to ignore it. Education is a large component that combats stigma. As society opens up to the new developments, feels comfortable to listen and talk about advancements, and dispels fear, the easier it is to promote connection to care and personal empowerment in treatment as prevention. In this workshop, Thrive Tribe Foundation will teach about the HIV virus, what it means to be undetectable, and the role that stigma plays in perpetuating the transmission of the disease in an interactive and motivational light. It is our belief that it is everyone's fight to end HIV, all it takes is the willingness to understand how it works.


Chris Villalobos has been active in the HIV community since he was first diagnosed in 2013. Through life experience and his own desire to learn about the virus, Chris became involved with Thrive Tribe Foundation (TTF) to find a social group that was proactive in the education and de-stigmatization of HIV. He is now the Associate Director of TTF and oversees the Connection to Care Center. Daily, Chris helps individuals navigate the healthcare system connecting them to doctors, insurance, and pharmacies, as well as state benefits that subsidize prescription costs and health insurance premiums, saving members thousands of dollars a year on healthcare costs. He is also responsible for community and educational programs that promote HIV education and acceptance.