What were you involved with before arriving at Duke?
I was a professor of Epidemiology, Medicine, and Nursing at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and directed the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights.
What research or projects are you currently working on?
I continue to work on HIV prevention research. I am currently co-chair, with Dr. Laron Nelson, at Yale of a large study aimed at improving HIV outcomes among Black gay and bisexual men in the U.S. South. This study is funded by the NIH and is called HPTN 096.
What classes are you teaching this semester, if any?
I currently give guest lectures in courses here at Duke, at Johns Hopkins, and at our partners in China, Singapore, and Rwanda.
How do your current or past involvements intersect with human rights?
I have been involved in human rights work since the early 1990s. In 2006 I founded the Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights to bring the tools of population-based sciences to bear on rights violations affecting not just individuals, but populations. I later became the first Desmond M. Tutu Professor in Health and Rights, and worked closely with Archbishop Tutu on LGBTQ rights, the right to health of prisoners and detainees, and human rights abuses affecting communities in Zimbabwe and Burma.
What inspired you to become a part of the Duke Human Rights Center’s Faculty Advisory Board?
Since coming to Duke in 2022, I’ve been eager to connect with other people working on human rights. The Duke Human Rights Center is quite unique and does inspiring work.
What is something you are looking forward to for human rights work at Duke this year?
We will be hosting the amazing rights activist Micheal Ighodaro and showing a documentary based on his experiences as a Nigerian LGBTQ activist called “The Legend of the Underground.” It’s a great film and Micheal is a compelling speaker. I’m really looking forward to introducing him to the Duke community.
What advice would you give to current Duke undergraduate students looking to get more involved with human rights on campus?
We are living in a time of remarkable challenges to human rights norms and protections. I think it is essential for students to grapple with human rights issues, understand the frameworks and conventions, and pay close attention to what is happening globally.