In May of 2019, the HIV/AIDS world lost its most promising poet, advocate, author, singer and young person living with AIDS, Mary Bowman.

Mary was 30 years old. Born with HIV, she lived out her experiences of growing up and living with HIV (and losing a mother to AIDS) through her art. As a young, out woman of color, she was a dynamic, vital voice for the next generation of individuals living with HIV—proud, willing to speak of her own challenges with not just her own health needs (mental health, social support) —but also a fierce advocate for other young people with HIV for whom a voice was lacking.

For Mary, the arts gave her the platform and voice to channel her creative energy, her passion, her truth.

To honor Mary’s legacy and support other accomplished young artivists like her, ViiV Healthcare and the National AIDS Memorial have partnered to create the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award. This $5,000 award is intended to support one young artivist each year who exemplifies Mary’s passion for the arts as the vehicle for their own HIV/AIDS community activism and expression.  Learn more (click).


“A dandelion in the midst of rose bushes would stick out like a sore thumb to ignorant souls; But I know the road this dandelion endured. This weed that all gardeners want to destroy is more appreciated by God than any seemingly beautiful bush of roses. Though that misunderstood dandelion wont for long last; Let it be known that God gave it the role of the outcast for divine importance.”

— Excerpt from Mary’s poem “Dandelion”

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the fear, stigma and discrimination. We share the stories of hope, courage, compassion, and love.  And, we bring to light the harsh reality that four decades later, there is no cure and the rates of infection are on the rise, particularly in communities of color.

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