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February 11, 2019 - ATN-YEAH Member Profile: JJ Jackson

Photo of JJCan you tell me a little bit about yourself? Such as where you are from, your age, where you live, and anything else you'd like to share.

My name is John “JJ” Jackson, I am 25 years old, born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. I am currently in my final year of my Master’s program at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. I currently work as a Medical Case Manager at a local safe space where my duties are to provide medical linkage and support services to newly diagnosed HIV positive youth, 13-23 years old, while also working with HIV positive youth to maintain their health and medical adherence. Additionally, I provide supportive services for youth who are homeless, marginally housed, or at risk of homelessness, experiencing issues with substance use or abuse and with youth that have a lack of adult support and resources.

Why did you choose to get involved with the ATN?

Communities that are most impacted by HIV/AIDS are very special to me given my own life experiences navigating the systems as a queer person of color living with HIV. Being involved with the national work that the ATN is engendering is a beautiful thing, given its impact on multiple systems of care and the ripple effect that should shatter the way institutions, researchers, and community partners, no matter the form, engage individuals living with HIV/AIDS. It’s such vital and important work and demonstrates the importance of merely bringing individuals together to further enhance the wonderful efforts that have already been made. I love occupying a role that serves as a catalyst for bigger change, specifically, minoritized and marginalized communities such as individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

Why did you choose to get involved with the ATN over other HIV/AIDS organizations?

It’s the appeal of continuing a dialogue on the national level about a population. Oftentimes, there is a disconnect between the actual population of individuals living with HIV/AIDS and those who are researching it and the ATN brings those voices together for a much needed discourse and the actual lived experiences for my community. ATN, for me, is the epitome of bridging the gap and allowing fresh voices to vocalize the reality of the work that has been done and what is left to do.

What are you proud of doing in regards to your affiliation with the ATN?

Just being present. There are not many chances to be involved at this level, using your voice to enact change and revision of research with varying professionals. This is humbling work… to be heard is one thing, but to be understood and see it reflected in research, is more important and gratifying.

How long have you been affiliated with the ATN?

I have been a youth panel expert and National Community Advisory Board (NCAB) member since April of 2018 and will continue until April of 2020. Overall, the term of service for the NCAB representatives will be two years for 8 representatives (2 from each of the three U19s and 2 from the U24) and two and a half years for the remaining 4 representatives to allow for continuity (1 from each of the U19s and 1 from the U24). (See more about what U19s are here.)

What do you do in your role with the ATN?

As a National Community Advisory Board member, renamed Youth Experts and Advocates of Health (YEAH), we provide expertise, consultation, and advice to the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN) and help ensure that the research agenda and work of the ATN reflects and addresses the current needs and issues of youth.  NCAB representatives will also serve as liaisons to their respective local Community Advisory Boards (CABs). We also meet quarterly, although we may also be asked to provide input in between scheduled meetings. We have one face-to-face meeting per year that coincides with one of the two ATN meetings and three virtual meetings.