EGPAF Ambassador Joins Singer Alicia Keys to Fight AIDS

EGPAF Ambassador Cristina Pena is being featured in a national campaign focusing on women and girls and their stories of battling HIV/AIDS.

Greater Than AIDS

EGPAF Ambassador Cristina Pena is taking part in a new project with musical artist Alicia Keys and the organization Greater Than AIDS. The Empowered Campaign is focused on speaking to women and girls about HIV – one in four people living with HIV in the United States is female. Cristina is dedicated to working for women and girls and encouraging education, prevention, and treatment efforts.

The Empowered Campaign is designed to speak “about the power within each of us to make a difference in our everyday lives in reaching the end of AIDS,” said Caroline Herter of the Kaiser Family Foundation. The promotion features advertisements on public transportation in major cities across the United States, and a series of videos featuring each of the women involved in the project. Cristina was thrilled to make her first trip to the Big Apple for the photo shoot and filming. “The day of the shoot was all very exciting,” she said. “Not only was this my first time visiting New York, but it was thrilling to be a part of the production of a project that addressed relevant, close-to-the-heart issues that face women infected, affected and at-risk for HIV/AIDS in the United States and abroad. It was wonderful to be in the company of such strong, committed women, and to share a common passion for HIV awareness, prevention, and advocacy. “

Cristina pointed out that African-American and Latina women were at high risk of HIV infection, and said that the statistics provided additional motivation for her to get involved. “According to a Kaiser Family Foundation HIV/AIDS Policy Report,” she said, “women account for 1 in 5 new HIV infections in the U.S. African-American women and Latinas are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, representing the majority of women living with HIV and newly infected. In order for our nation to reduce HIV infections among women, we must address why women, particularly African American women and Latinas under 25 years old, continue to be a high-risk population, what HIV/AIDS means during our reproductive years, and how to better tailor health and wellness services for women.“ She added that the Empowered Campaign was perfect for reaching women from all backgrounds. “I’m really proud of the Empowered campaign because it not only addresses these challenges, but also inspires through education, action, and empowerment.”

Cristina was born with HIV, but several of the other women involved in the project acquired HIV as adults. But Cristina said that no matter their status, all of the women shared a common goal of eliminating HIV. “Even though we carry different journeys and have dealt with HIV at different points in our lives,” she said, “we are united by our passion and commitment to seeing a generation free of HIV/AIDS.” She added that she had always been inspired by the women in her life who consistently championed the needs of people living with HIV, and she was excited to work with more women who felt the same. “We are all in this fight together,” she said, “and by sharing our personal, diverse stories, I hope we can paint an honest representation of the many ways this disease can affect woman and girls. I look up to these four ladies with whom I shared this project, and they remind me that I have a future ahead of me.”

Cristina was excited to meet and work with Alicia Keys. Besides selling 35 million albums, Alicia has been a longtime supporter for people living with HIV and AIDS. She is a Global Ambassador for Keep A Child Alive, an organization that supports HIV prevention and care and treatment as well as support for orphans in Africa and India. “Alicia is absolutely amazing,” Cristina said, “and (she’s) genuinely passionate about women-and -girl empowerment – from promoting literacy and improved health to HIV/AIDS prevention and education.” By getting involved in the global battle against HIV and AIDS, Cristina said, “Alicia is demonstrating the most important step: ACTION. “ Cristina added that before the video shoot, “I was definitely a fan of Alicia as an artist, and now I'm an even bigger fan of her as an activist, philanthropist, and leader.”

Congratulations to Cristina on her work with the Empowered Campaign. We’re so excited to see what she does next!

Jane Coaston is Media Relations Coordinator for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.