An increasing number of new HIV cases come from women, presenting a rising crisis in communities across the country. Grammy-winner Alicia Keys is tackling the problem through the EMPOWERED campaign, which spreads awareness among women about HIV and AIDS.
The singer co-hosted an event in Harlem to begin a neighborhood dialogue and dispel stigmas surrounding the issue. She especially wants people to know that HIV/AIDS affects us all and that everyone should feel they can join the fight. “Us doing our part, and showing our interest, and opening up a dialogue — that is so important and crucial to us arriving at an AIDS-free generation,” Keys said.
Even though she knows the battles will be tough, the star said that being a New Yorker has strengthened her resolve. “New York has infused me with so much fire,” she said, adding that her upbringing also provided a “certain multicultural understanding,” allowing her to realize humanity in people from various backgrounds. Knowing that AIDS can strike anyone no matter his or her race or socioeconomic status pushed Keys to continue educating society about prevention.
Having been an advocate for AIDS awareness abroad, Keys realized that regions in the U.S. needed access to the same health information she was promoting in other countries. She once attended an event in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. When she recalled the HIV and AIDS patients who spoke in Washington, the singer said, “I was brought to tears because I couldn’t believe that here we are, with so much opportunity, and we’re one of the wealthiest countries in the world and have access to so many things, but yet there’s almost like this shadow about what’s happening with HIV and AIDS.”
That was the moment when she knew she had to do something. Soon after the panel in D.C., Keys partnered with KFF and Greater Than AIDS to found EMPOWERED and inform hard-hit areas like Harlem.
Earlier this year, EMPOWERED brought its message to VH1, with on-air ads featuring five women living and thriving after having been diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]