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Facing AIDS: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

February 7, 2011

Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Many African-Americans face HIV and AIDS every single day. I've been facing AIDS for over half my life. It is a battle that many of us face head on and some even face it alone. I know what it's like to live in secret, afraid that people will not love me if they know that I have this ugly disease.

Although it took me seven years to tell more than five people, it's the best thing I could have done. But yet I still live with the stigma of having this disease. That must change. We must make it acceptable for people to go get tested for HIV, to know their HIV status. Knowing your HIV status early will prolong your life. Over 38% of new cases of HIV are people infected by people who didn't know their HIV status. That's a dangerous cycle that helps to increase the number of cases of HIV in the African-American community. In the United States African-Americans comprise 46% of all HIV cases, yet we are 12% of the population. This must change! We must make these changes in our personal lives and in our community. I will spend my day educating through social media. I will be answering questions on Facebook and Twitter throughout the day. Feel free to drop in.

This evening you are welcome to join me at my Tweet-up at Kilwin's Chocolate and Ice Cream, 1405 N. Wells, Chicago from 6:00-8:30 p.m. It's free!!! Hosting this Tweet-Up with me is my friend and fellow blogger, Dwana, aka Houseonahillorg. Thanks to our sponsor, Kilwin's Chicago, we will hang out, enjoy the fudge, caramel corn, ice cream and hot chocolate, and tweet about HIV/AIDS. You can RSVP right now!

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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

Rae is an active user of social media -- read "Long-Term HIV Survivor Discovers the Power of Twitter," an article on about Rae's social media activities.

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