HIV Organizations Call For A Meeting With DaBaby To Learn & Amplify the Facts

“At a time when HIV continues to disproportionately impact Black Americans and queer and transgender people of color, a dialogue is critical. We must address the miseducation about HIV, expressed in your comments, and the impact it has on various communities.”

August 4, 2021Today, eleven organizations including Arianna’s Center, Black AIDS Institute, GLAAD, The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Prevention Access Campaign, Relationship Unleashed, The 6:52 Project Foundation, and leaders from the Gilead COMPASS Initiative including Southern AIDS Coalition, Emory University, the University of Houston, and Wake Forest University released an open letter to rapper DaBaby requesting a private meeting to discuss the facts about HIV and how it  is a preventable and treatable condition, and to discuss a long-term opportunity for him to share the education to his fanbase.

Read the letter here

The open letter was drafted and signed by organizations providing HIV education, capacity building, and direct services to people most impacted by HIV/AIDS, especially Black LGBTQ communities across the southern United States, which accounts for the majority of new HIV cases.

Organizations signing the letter include Gilead COMPASS Initiative coordinating centers at Emory University, the University of Houston, Southern AIDS Coalition, and Wake Forest University. The Gilead COMPASS Initiative is a ten year $100 million commitment to end HIV in the southern United States by collaborating with over 180 community organizations and other stakeholders on several focus areas, including efforts to combat stigma.

The letter stresses that people living with HIV today, when on effective treatment, lead long and healthy lives and cannot transmit HIV.

Organizations signing the letter include:

  • Arianna’s Center, an organization serving the transgender community of South Florida which focuses on trans people living with HIV.
  • Black AIDS Institute, the nation’s only “think and do tank” dedicated exclusively to ending the HIV epidemic in Black America.
  • Emory Centers for Public Health Training and Technical Assistance EnCORE Center in Atlanta.
  • GLAAD, a national LGBTQ media advocacy organization.
  • The Normal Anomaly Initiative, a Houston-based organization working to change the narrative of the Black queer community especially at the intersection of health and racial disparities.
  • Prevention Access Campaign, a health equity initiative to end the dual epidemics of HIV and HIV-related stigma by empowering people with and vulnerable to HIV with accurate and meaningful information about their social, sexual, and reproductive health.
  • Relationship Unleashed, a Memphis-based organization creating social, cultural, and professional equity for members of the Black LGBTQ community in Tennessee.
  • The 6:52 Project Foundation, which helps individuals and organizations interested in research, education, and/or the prevention and spread of HIV.
  • Southern AIDS Coalition, a diverse community working across political, religious, and geographic lines to end the HIV epidemic in the South.
  • University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work’s SUSTAIN Center
  • Wake Forest University’s Faith Coordinating Center in Winston-Salem, NC.

The letter shares under-reported facts about HIV/AIDS and how stigma like the kind DaBaby spread fuels fear, misinformation and new infections, particularly in Black communities.

The facts are:

  • People living with HIV today, when on effective treatment, lead long and healthy lives and cannot transmit HIV. Treating HIV can suppress the virus to the point it is no longer detected. When it is undetected, it is untransmittable, the key message of the U=U campaign.
  • Approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV. 13% of them don’t know it, reinforcing the need for HIV testing and to end stigma around HIV testing.
  • People most vulnerable to HIV are the ones who have limited access to transportation, housing, healthcare, and social support. We should focus on advocating for resources in our community rather than stigmatizing women and LGBTQ people.
  • Black Americans account for more HIV diagnoses (43%), people living with HIV (42%), and the most deaths among people with HIV (44%) than any other racial and ethnic group in the U.S.
  • The CDC states that the U.S. South experiences the greatest rates of HIV and lags behind in providing quality HIV prevention services and care. According to AIDSVu, a program from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University, 31,864 people are living with HIV in North Carolina, where DaBaby was raised.
  • Medications like PrEP protect people who do not have HIV from contracting HIV. The CDC states that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed.

Earlier this week, DaBaby apologized for harmful comments about people with HIV, LGBTQ people and women, including false claims that HIV is a “deadly sexually transmitted disease that’ll make you die in two to three weeks.” Multiple artists, festivals and platforms have spoken up against DaBaby and his rhetoric. He posted the apology on Instagram: “I appreciate the many people who came to me with kindness, who reached out to me privately to offer wisdom, education, and resources. That’s what I needed and it was received. I want to apologize to the LGBTQ+ community for the hurtful and triggering comments I made. Again, I apologize for my misinformed comments about HIV/AIDS, and I know education on this is important.”

 

Quote from Kia Colbert, Director, COMPASS Coordinating Center at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University:
“For the last few years, the Gilead COMPASS Initiative has helped build a network of over 180 organizations throughout the South determined to educate communities and end the stigma associated with HIV. Comments like DaBaby’s make it clear that we have more work to do, but we’ve never been more empowered to do that work than we are today. This is an opportunity for all of us to learn and grow.”

 

Quote from Raniyah Copeland, President and CEO, Black AIDS Institute:
“Because HIV disproportionately impacts all Black Americans more than any other race, the Black AIDS Institute’s motto has remained Our People. Our Problem. Our Solution. Dababy’s words reflect the mindset of many Black folks. Whether it’s stigmatizing people who are gay, trans, and/or living with HIV, or it’s a deeply-rooted misogynoir, we can end HIV within our lifetime only if we work past ignorance that holds up systems of anti-Blackness that hurt and divide us. It’s why critical conversations about shaming and oppressing our own people must be had in the whole of Black communities. Having Black-led HIV organizations, particularly from the south, join this effort underscores the need for widespread Black leadership in brokering conversations that turn the misinformed into messengers of truth. We must ensure we ourselves are creating a world where all Black lives are afforded the humanity we deserve.”

 

Quote from Dashawn Usher, GLAAD Associate Director, Communities of Color:
“DaBaby and all Americans must learn the truth about HIV and work towards defeating the stigma that keeps people from HIV prevention and life saving treatment that allows them to live long and healthy lives, and not transmit HIV. Together with leaders in the HIV field, we are asking for a meeting with DaBaby to educate and enlighten him, and all Americans, about the facts: HIV is preventable and with treatment, it can become undetectable and therefore untransmittable. DaBaby can be a powerful and influential voice where Black Americans need it most. We urge him to learn the facts and use his platform to share the truth that can save lives.”

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