This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

P.J. Moton-Poole has worked in public health for 16 years, serving communities through educating and increasing access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment.

“I have always desired to be a luminous connector, using everything I have learned up to this point to continue to light a path forward and build a better road for those who come behind me, particularly those who belong to the same communities that I belong to or come from,” he says. “As a Black queer man living with HIV,  I bring a unique perspective to this role [because I’ve] lived many of the struggles faced by the communities we serve at ViiV [Healthcare].”

The communities he helps in his role as Senior Manager of U.S. External Affairs are the ones most disproportionately impacted by HIV — Black and Latinx communities, people living in southern states, women, youth and men who have sex with men. Moton-Poole manages grants and programs that assist community organizations in caring for people living with and impacted by HIV.

His focus on health equity and addressing social determinants that drive the HIV epidemic began before he even finished college. “I was lucky enough to find passion in this work and the opportunity to engage in it as a professional at a very early age — my freshman year in undergrad,” he says. Since earning his bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and Master of Social Work from Washington University, Moton-Poole has continued to amplify the voices and needs for people living with HIV, most recently through initiatives launched through ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action program.

He talked to Blavity about the accelerate Initiative and overcoming HIV stigma.