ELITE 2018 Patient Advocate JD Davids of Remedy Health Media

JD Davids

Director of Strategic Communications and Senior Editor

TheBody/TheBodyPRO, Remedy Health Media

Amplifying Vital Voices

In the late 1980s, JD Davids joined in protests with the influential health advocacy group AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP), soon diving into the HIV justice movement in and beyond Philadelphia.

JD went on to help lead many campaigns that resulted in real changes. He co-founded and ran a training program that provided key information on treatment and self-advocacy; advised NIH and CDC on research issues; and played a vital role in reducing the cost of lifesaving HIV treatment in poor countries from $15,000 to $150/year and securing a National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States.

But as he entered his late 20s, JD himself faced health difficulties. From fatigue to mounting chronic pain and skin sensitivities, he went without a diagnosis for many years. Then in 2006, JD’s foot went numb. Within 48 hours, his body was numb from the neck down, and he was diagnosed with transverse myelitis—a rare and sometimes life-threatening condition. A year later, with another attack, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). After several more flares, JD’s diagnosis was changed to neuromyelitis optica (NMO), a rarer autoimmune disease than MS.

He became active in NMO patient groups, having been mentored by people with HIV who paved their own way, pored over medical research, and educated providers. At times, he needed to organize for his own access to the biologics that formed the backbone of best-guess treatments for this orphan disease. As a trans man, JD now works with his providers to adapt his hormonal therapies for what may be optimal for his now multiple autoimmune conditions of NMO, fibromyalgia, and psoriasis.

Today, JD is a writer, editor, and strategist at TheBody/TheBodyPRO—where he serves as Senior Editor and Director of Strategic Communications and launched the groundbreaking Resource Center for Transgender People and HIV. His longstanding work alongside people with HIV/AIDS and fellow members of LGBTQ communities has enabled him to bring vital voices from often-marginalized communities to prominence.

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