Dustin Hawkins

MSSW, DSW Candidate

Queering the Curriculum: Destigmatizing Medical Education to Improve LGBTQ+ Health Outcomes and HIV prevention and Care.


There is increasing evidence that stigma has a negative impact on people who live with HIV as well as those who could benefit from HIV prevention measures. HIV stigma has its roots in the historical and systemic oppression that the LGBTQ+ community has experienced in the medical care system. These biases have led to an alarming lack of access to care for this population. This presentation will provide an overview of three research products created to stem this growing problem. The systematic literature review will provide an understanding of the root causes of HIV stigma in medical care. The conceptual product will provide a theoretical analysis of experiential learning’s influence on social justice education and provide a framework for medical education. The practice application product will suggest a curricular change for medical schools based on stigma theory through the experiential concepts of allyship. Finally, the presentation will highlight the general themes and findings that bridge this capstone together.


Dustin Hawkins is a Bluegrass State native from Bardstown, Kentucky. He is a first-generation college student and graduate. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Morehead State University in Kentucky. He earned his Master of Science in Social Work and Alcohol and Drug Counseling Specialization from the University of Louisville in 2015. At the University of Kentucky, Dustin is a doctoral candidate for the Doctor of Social Work program with a concentration in social work education. His research interests and capstone include exploring how Social Work Education can be utilized appropriately to destigmatize and decolonize public health practices toward LGBTQ+ populations. In 2015, Dustin received the University of Louisville’s Associate Dean of Research Award for “Best MSSW Research Project.” He currently holds a license in clinical social work in three states: Kentucky, Indiana, and California.

Dustin Hawkins has served in the social work and mental health field since 2013, where he worked as a tech helping clients with severe mental illnesses live independently. Since then, he has held the role of case manager, therapist, clinical manager, and director of several crisis and community-based services. In March of 2024, he embarked on “the role of a lifetime.” He is the Coordinator of Practicum Education for the Palm Desert Extension campus of California State University, San Bernardino’s Department of Social Work.