Greater Than AIDS was in Los Angeles for the Black AIDS Institute’s annual Heroes in the Struggle awards ceremony! We chatted on the Red Carpet with Black AIDS Institute Board Member and event co-host Jussie Smollett and honorees Taraji P. Henson, Laverne Cox, Alfre Woodard, Gina Belafonte, among others about why this issue is so important, and what we can do.
Attendees at the star-studded gala called for more dialogue about HIV and its impact on Black America. “I know there are so many things to be concerned about, to care about in the world, and specifically this country, that we are dealing with at this moment,” commented Smollett. “I keep on just saying we’re going to have to multi-task.”
Smollett’s EMPIRE co-star Henson cautioned of the dangers of being silent, “If we stop talking people fall back in the shadows and they become embarrassed, they become shamed and they live in fear.” Long-time HIV activist and one of the night’s honorees Gina Brown echoed that when she shared, “I’m a woman living with HIV 23 years, and for a long time we were silent on our own issues.”
The event was an opportunity not just to call out the problem, but also to celebrate the progress so far. While there is still no cure for HIV, we have the knowledge and tools today that could lead to the eradication of the disease. Antiretrovirals (ARVs), the medications used to treat HIV, work to reduce the viral load of an individual with HIV to levels undetectable by standard lab tests. A low viral load greatly improves health and prevents the spread of the virus to others.
For those who do not have HIV there is PrEP, a once daily pill that in addition to condoms offers another powerful means of protection. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective in protecting against HIV. PrEP is also a significant advance in that it provides women with the first HIV prevention tool that they can control themselves.
Calling on others to join the movement, Smollett gives Greater Than AIDS a shout out, “I am Jussie Smollett and I am greater than AIDS and so are you!”
Find out more at greaterthan.org.