An HIV diagnosis at the age of 19 changed Tennessee native Marvelyn Brown’s life in unexpected ways. Today, Brown is an HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention activist. With Courtney E. Martin, she has written The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive (Amistad/HarperCollins, $14.95).

Brown says she is saddened by rising HIV rates among African-American women. “A lack of self-love plays a major role,” Brown says. “Black women have to start loving themselves and being strong enough to stop seeking acceptance from men at the price of their health.”