Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in the Black AIDS Institute’s kick off of their “One In A Million Campaign” in honor of National HIV Testing Day which is taking place Wednesday, June 27th.
The Institute held a press conference at the Screen Actors Guild in Los Angeles where dozens of Black celebrities including one of my favorite recording artists Angie Stone (above), took part in getting tested for HIV. Other participants included: Jimmy Jean-Louis ("Heroes"); Regina King ("Ray," "24"); Hill Harper ("CSI: New York"); Rockmond Dunbar ("Prison Break," "Heartland"); Alan Rosenberg ("The Guardian," "Cybil"); Jasmine Guy ("A Different World"); Indigo Nichols ("Weeds"); Robi Reed (RR Casting); Meagan Tandy (Miss California USA 2007); Vanessa Williams ("Soul Food"); Regina Taylor ("The Unit"); Sheryl Lee Ralph ("ER," Original "Dreamgirls" on Broadway); Hosea Chanchez ("The Game"); Jamal Weathers ("Shooter"); Antonio Pena ("Young & The Restless"); Darius McCrary ("Transformers"); Sandi McCree ("The Wire"); Anne-Marie Johnson ("CSI," "JAG"); Ovie Mughelli (Atlanta Falcons); Isaac Keys (Arizona Cardinals); Henry Simmons ("Shark"); Tatyana Ali ("The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"); Kym Whitley ("Grey’s Anatomy," "Reno 911!"); Samaki Walker, Rob Sommers and Deandre Walker (NBA); Jenifer Lewis ("Strong Medicine"); Alexandra Paul ("Baywatch"); Evan Dexter Parke ("King Kong"); Lamman Rucker ("Half & Half"); Beverly White (KNBC-TV); Yvette Nicole Brown ("The Office"); Gina Belafonte ("Friends"); Colette Divine ("Sarong Song"); J. Karen Thomas ("Crossing Jordan"); Vida Guerra; Earl Cole (Winner, "Survivor: Fiji"); and Howard Hesseman ("Boston Legal," "WKRP in Cincinnati").
One of the most moving speakers during the press conference to me was actor Jimmy Jean-Louis who I hadn’t seen since February but had been in touch via email for the past several months.
He spoke about being Haitian and going to school in London where at 14 in order to go on a field trip, he was the only child made to have an HIV test and how that stigma stayed with him for years after that. Very moving. He eloquently talked about the stigma and the fear associated with HIV and that as Blacks we need to break that cycle.
One sentiment that was echoed over and over again was that gays weren’t the only one’s contracting HIV and that regardless of race, sex, or sexual orientation, we are all affected by HIV and AIDS.
I have a confession.
I haven’t been tested for HIV in quite some time, maybe a couple of years. Mainly because I wasn’t have sex, lol. But today, I took the opportunity to get tested and become One In a Million.
I truly believe that HIV and AIDS is a Black disease. How can I not when I look at the statistics of who is getting affected at far higher rates than anyone else?
Tomorrow is National HIV Testing Day. For many it’s just another day filled with places to go and things to do. But why not take a few minutes out of your day to find out your status? If not tomorrow, there’s Thursday, Friday, Saturday…you get the picture. It doesn’t get any easier than going to www.blackaid.org and typing in your zip code to find local clinics that provide free (keyword FREE) HIV testing.
Do it and you can join me in being One in A Million.