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13 Moments in Black Celebrity HIV/AIDS Activism

February 7, 2013


Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph Founds The DIVA Foundation (1990)

Sheryl Lee Ralph was starring as Deena Jones in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls in 1982, around the same time that "there was this silent disease going around called GRID (Gay Related Immune Disorder). And you know, nobody wanted to talk about it," she told In 1990, she founded The DIVA (Divinely Inspired Victoriously AWARE) Foundation to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS for men, women and children around the globe. For more than 20 years, The DIVA Foundation has presented "DIVAS Simply Singing!" each year to raise funds for HIV/AIDS awareness.

The DIVA Foundation's awareness campaigns include town hall meetings, prevention seminars, free HIV testing and counseling -- and Sometimes I Cry, a one-woman show written and performed by Sheryl Lee Ralph. Still a committed advocate, in 2008 Ralph launched a website called along with her husband, Pennsylvania Sen. Vincent Hughes. The site encourages couples to accompany one another to get tested for HIV.

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