At Empowered Campaign Launch, New Urgency to End AIDS

Singer and activist Alicia Keys at the launch for the Empowered Campaign, featuring EGPAF Ambassador Cristina Pena.

Washington Post

Grammy award-winning singer and HIV/AIDS activist Alicia Keys hosted a webcast Monday to unveil the result of her new partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation – the Empowered Campaign.

The campaign is focused on domestic awareness and seeks to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst American women by combating the stigma and misinformation that surrounds the disease.

In the U.S., women – particularly women of color – are bearing the brunt of HIV/AIDS, accounting for the majority of new infections among women. The Campaign features the stories of five women – including EGPAF Foundation Ambassador Christina Pena – who are living with HIV/AIDS and thriving, despite their diagnosis.

The national, cross-platform campaign will targets women through TV, radio and print, and billboard advertisements.

“When you talk about strength of spirit, empowerment, leadership and womanhood, talking about glory – these women are my inspiration and my friends and I’m so proud of us,” Keys said at Monday’s event. “They’re not just living with HIV, but … they’re triumphing over it.”

Keys, a longtime international advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness, said after attending a Kaiser Family Foundation forum on women and AIDS during the 2012 International AIDS Conference, she was struck anew by how much work still needed to be done in the United States to combat AIDS, particularly on behalf of women.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, 1 in every 4 of the 1.1 million Americans infected with HIV are women. 1 in 32 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV.

“What’s striking to me is how many similarities unite us in this global fight to end HIV,” Keys said. “We as women are the backbone of families and communities that for sure is equal no matter where we go … We will never see an AIDS-free generation, without harnessing the power and strength of women.”

Keys was joined for Monday’s announcement by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; California Representative Barbara Lee; and Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman.

Keys said she hopes sharing the stories of women living with HIV through the Campaign will leave viewers with a sense of hope, agency and urgency.

“We want women to understand that in all the different roles we play in our lives, we have a tremendous power, we really do. All of us as human beings have a tremendous power; we have an obligation to access and to be unafraid of that limitless well of power that we have to really reach out to each other.

“I hope (the Campaign) leaves the same impression on you as it did on me -- a profound connectedness a true deeper sense of responsibility and the belief that we all have the power to create an AIDS –free generation. “

Chelsea Bailey is Communications Assistant for the Foundation, based in Washington, DC.