Michael Parish, 24
Waco, TX, native Michael Parish is a relative newcomer to the arena of HIV/AIDS prevention. After serving as a volunteer for four years, he was hired by Resource Center of Dallas in 2010, where he provides weekend STD testing and strives to prevent new HIV infections and combat the stigma attached to the virus and those who have it. (He also works with other programs that serve the community, such as the gay/bi young men’s group Fuse).
“Some communities don’t fully accept that they’re at risk of infection,” says Parish, an artist and singer/songwriter in his free time. “LGBT people, on the other hand, ‘throw in the towel’ when it comes to fighting HIV. They’ve been made to believe that they specifically are ‘destined’ to contract HIV. But if you remove ‘LGBT’ and insert another category of people and say the same thing, you would see the sheer ludicrousness of such a belief. [Fighting that sense of inevitability] is the biggest challenge.”