April 17, 2013
Grammy Award-winning singer Alicia Keys recently met with women who are part of an HIV program at United Medical Center in Washington to discuss their experiences with HIV, including the fear and stigma associated with the disease. Keys has previously traveled to Africa and India to meet with similar women and is co-founder of Keep a Child Alive, which provides AIDS treatment, food, and other support to children and families affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa and India. Keys announced that she wants to bridge the gap between domestic and international conversations about HIV.
Keys is working with the Kaiser Family Foundation for "Empowered," a campaign launched in March to educate women about HIV and provide grants to community-based projects for that purpose. The campaign includes outreach through public service advertisements, social media, and community programs and encourages women to get educated about HIV/AIDS, talk with family and friends, protect themselves and loved ones, get tested, prevent transmission, and adhere to treatment. Keys is also leading the Empowered Community Grants program with Kaiser and AIDS United that will donate up to $25,000 grants to community-level projects that focus on women and HIV. The campaign is scheduled to run for five years; publish a report annually on women's experiences with HIV and AIDS; and examine cultural changes regarding education, misconceptions, and stigma associated with the disease. Valerie Jarrett, a White House senior advisor who has worked previously with Keys on women and health issues, gave her support to "Empowered" because she considered it part of the president's vision for comprehensive health. Jarrett commented that Keys' participation highlights how every individual can play a role.
According to Kaiser, of the 1.1 million individuals living with HIV in the United States, one in four are women, and women of color account for about two-thirds of new HIV infections among women.