The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
Kai Chandler Lois Crenshaw Gary Paul Wright Fortunata Kasege Keith Green Lois Bates Greg Braxton Vanessa Austin Bernard Jackson

Dennis Haysbert: Actor, Activist

May 8, 2012

Dennis Haysbert

Dennis Haysbert

In his own life, Dennis Haysbert is a stalwart disciple of the self-help bibles How to Visualize What You Want and The Power of Positive Thinking. They have allowed him to imagine himself right where he has wanted to be: on the covers of publications such as TV Guide and Ebony and having the chance to play the president of the United States.

Has Haysbert ever envisioned a world without HIV/AIDS? "I see it," he replies. "The only question is, once we cure this thing, does everybody get back to normal?" he asks, wondering if people will engage in high-risk behaviors as they did before the epidemic.

Making HIV/AIDS testing routine within the Black community has driven Haysbert's involvement in the cause for more than a dozen years. He joined the Harlem Health Expo's AIDS awareness campaign in 1999 while in New York City shooting the 1999 CBS drama Now and Again. "I was one of the first African American actors to be tested on-screen to destigmatize the act of being tested," says the perennially popular Allstate pitchman, who will be starring in The Details this summer with Tobey Maguire, Laura Linney and Ray Liotta.

For both Black men and women in the United States, having unprotected sex with a man is the leading cause of HIV infection, according to (pdf) the Kaiser Family Foundation. In addition, 85 percent of African American women living with HIV were infected through heterosexual sex, and black women account for more than half of the country's entire female epidemic.

Of black men living with HIV, 20 percent were infected through heterosexual contact.

His message to the brothers: "Wake up!" Haysbert, 57, booms with his resounding, authoritative tone, refraining from the expletives that he says could really bring his point home. "This is about your life and the quality of your life. Nothing else matters."

The fact that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has communicated the Obama administration's vision of creating an AIDS-free generation in our not-too-distant future continues to bolster Haysbert's optimism. After all, new antiretroviral medicines not only keep those infected alive but can also help reduce the transmission of the disease.

"So they may die of something else, but they won't die of this," he says. "And that's what I'm hoping for."

Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, author and documentary filmmaker.

More From This Resource Center

Magic Johnson Wants You to Know: He Isn't Cured of HIV

Living With HIV? African Americans Share Their Advice

This article was provided by The Black AIDS Institute. It is a part of the publication Black AIDS Weekly. Visit Black AIDS Institute's website to find out more about their activities and publications.

See Also
More on Celebrities and HIV/AIDS

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:


The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our advertising policy.