Guess what? The AIDS epidemic isn't over.
It's true that numbers of overall AIDS deaths were down from 2.3 million in 2005 to 1.7 million in 2011, and women with HIV who take antiretroviral medication during pregnancy can now reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their babies to less than 1 percent.
Yet, women are increasingly vulnerable to the disease: young women ages 15-24 have new infection rates that are twice as high as those of young men in that same age group. In 2013! How can this be?
It's because we've stopped talking about it, says singer/activist Alicia Keys.
"We can't act like it's not happening," the Grammy winner told CNN recently. "We have to make sure we know that we're all at risk. This is all of our issues, you know. This doesn't make you bad. ... You shouldn't feel like you're ashamed. We have to make sure that we are demanding access to being tested. We have to demand access to treatment with dignity."
One of the primary female voices in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Keys launched her own charity, Keep a Child Alive, along with activist Leigh Blake in 2003 to take action against the disease. Unlike many celebrities who jump on bandwagons for causes, Keys is in it for the long haul. This year, as her foundation celebrates its tenth anniversary of bringing awareness about HIV/AIDS to her music fans through events such as her now-legendary "Black Ball" -- and continues to provide access to treatment and care, nutritious food, and support for children and families living with and affected by HIV in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, and India -- the singer is constantly working to keep HIV/AIDS at the forefront of the media. U2's Bono calls Keys "a lioness" in her dedication to the fight to end AIDS.
Keys currently participates in the 2013 Greater Than AIDS "Empowered" campaign, in which she works with the Kaiser Foundation to spread the word to women about HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and change the stigma about the disease (see video below). Her 2011 Showtime documentary, Keep a Child Alive with Alicia Keys, is also still making the rounds, airing up to several times per month on the network, including on July 17 (check local listings here).
"What does all of this have to do with me?" you might wonder. That's exactly the type of question Alicia Keys hopes fans will ask. The Empowered campaign says that keeping yourself informed about the real facts and statistics about HIV/AIDS, getting tested and knowing your status, and staying healthy and using safe sex practices are the best ways to protect yourself and others and promote prevention.
Alicia Keys is also educating fans on the road during her current world tour -- including at the infamous Rock in Rio Festival in September -- by using new technologies and platforms such as Prizeo to raise awareness and funds for Keep A Child Alive. For more information about how you can help Alicia Keys fight AIDS, click here.
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