MENLO PARK, CA (BLACK PR WIRE) — Fourteen-time Grammy Award-winning artist and HIV awareness advocate Alicia Keys has teamed up with Greater Than AIDS to launch Empowered, a new public information campaign to reach women in the U.S. about HIV/AIDS. The ongoing Empowered campaign includes targeted public service ads (PSAs) and community engagement opportunities.
Approximately 280,000 people living with HIV in the U.S. – or about one in four – reportedly are women. Women of color have been especially hard-hit, accounting for the large majority of new infections occurring among women in the U.S.
Keys has dedicated her work in philanthropy to help bring awareness to the urgency of HIV/AIDS in the global fight against AIDS.
The singer/songwriter/producer, actress, author and entrepreneur co-founded Keep a Child Alive (KCA) which provides AIDS treatment, support, nutrition and love to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.
With the launch of Empowered, she is highlighting the power of women – as mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, partners and people living with HIV – to change the course of the disease through everyday actions.
“When I became aware that women accounted for one in five new HIV
infections occurring in the U.S. each year, it shook me to the core and I realized this is an issue we all need to pay attention to,” said Keys. “Whether HIV positive or negative, we all have the opportunity to educate ourselves and make a difference.”
Most HIV infections among American women reportedly are a result of heterosexual transmission, and to a lesser extent sharing needles. There has been some recent encouraging news when it comes to women and HIV.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there was a significant 21 percent decrease in new HIV infections among women in the U.S. between 2008 and 2010. For progress to continue, experts caution efforts must be sustained.
The campaign promotes specific ways women are empowered in the face of HIV/AIDS:
To know the facts about HIV/AIDS, including the impact of HIV on women; to speak openly about HIV/AIDS with family, friends and others in their lives; to protect themselves and their loved ones; to ask to be tested and to know doing so is an act of pride, not shame; to live full and healthy lives; and to help prevent the spread of disease if positive by staying on treatment
The first phase of the campaign features Keys in conversation with five HIV positive women from different parts of the country and walks of life:
Cristina, a graduate student from the San Francisco Bay Area who was born with HIV; Eva, a home health care worker living in Atlanta with her family; Kym, a young professional living in Texas who learned she was positive after her new husband became sick and died as a result of HIV; Jen, a wife and mother in Portland, OR who has being living with HIV for over 20 years; and Stephanie, a recent college graduate from North Carolina who appeared in an MTV special on youth and HIV.
They share their stories in the hopes of reaching other women and showing how, whether positive or negative, we are all empowered in this fight.
The theme of empowerment carries throughout the cross-platform campaign, which will include TV, radio, outdoor, print and digital public service ads (PSAs), special programming, social media promotions, informational materials, resources and more.
A half-hour video of Keys’ conversation with the women will be made available for community screenings and discussion.
Experts note that HIV is both preventable and treatable.
For those who are positive, there are highly-effective therapies today that improve health and extend life, as well as help prevent the spread of the disease. Research confirms that people living with HIV who are on regular antiretroviral treatments reduce the chances of passing the virus to sexual partners by as much as 96 percent.
Furthermore, according to the CDC, condoms are highly effective in preventing the spread of STDs during sexual contact.
Yet despite the progress of the past three decades since the first diagnosis, stigma and misconceptions continue to be significant drivers of HIV today, keeping many from taking actions – such as talking openly, using protection, getting tested or staying on treatment – that can stem the spread of the disease.
More information about women and HIV/AIDS is available from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Additional partners include Greater Than AIDS, a leading national public information response focused on the U.S. domestic epidemic; The Black AIDS Institute, a think tank exclusively focused on AIDS in Black America; the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Ford Foundation and MAC AIDS, among others.