Fourteen-time Grammy Award-winning artist and HIV 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.
Being released in the lead-up to National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (March 10), 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 – 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.
As a force in the global fight against AIDS, Keys has dedicated her work in philanthropy to help bring awareness to the urgency of HIV/AIDS. Now with the launch of EMPOWERED, she is once again highlighting the power of women – as mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, partners and people living with HIV – to change the course of this disease through every day 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 Alicia Keys. “Whether HIV positive or negative, we all have the opportunity to educate ourselves and make a difference.”
Most HIV infections among American women 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. More information about women and HIV/AIDS is available from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Alicia Keys on this new Greater Than AIDS campaign to reach women about HIV,” said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “As the backbone of so many families in this country, as well as a population affected by the disease, women are central to the fight against HIV.”
The campaign promotes specific ways women are empowered in the face of HIV/AIDS:
• EMPOWERED to know the facts about HIV/AIDS, including the impact of HIV on women
• EMPOWERED to speak openly about HIV/AIDS with family, friends and others in our lives
• EMPOWERED to protect ourselves and our loved ones
• EMPOWERED to ask to be tested and to know doing so is an act of pride, not shame
• EMPOWERED to live full and healthy lives and help prevent spread of disease if positive by staying on treatment
The first phase of the campaign features Ms. Keys in conversation with five HIV positive women from different parts of the country and walks of life. Among them are: 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 been 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 Ms. Keys’ conversation with the women will be made available for community screenings and discussion.
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.
For more information about Greater Than AIDS and the EMPOWERED campaign, as well as to view the video of Alicia Keys conversation with women living with HIV, click here.