On Aug. 31, Black leaders from nine HIV organizations across the country announced they held a virtual, private meeting with rapper Jonathan "DaBaby" Kirk to discuss HIV facts and share personal stories of living and thriving with HIV, a GLAAD press release noted.
The leaders called for a meeting with the artist in an open letter. (The letter is at https://www.glaad.org/blog/open-letter-dababy.)
On Aug. 25, representatives from Black AIDS Institute, Gilead Sciences COMPASS Initiative Coordinating Centers, GLAAD, National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Positive Women's Network-USA, Prevention Access Campaign (U=U), the Southern AIDS Coalition and Transinclusive Group, as well as a faith and HIV advisor, discussed HIV history and education, as well as the groups' work in Black, LGBTQ and faith communities.
This meeting followed the open letter to DaBaby from these and other organizations earlier this month that asked for a meeting after what controversial comments he made at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. (Fallout from the comments, and subsequent defense of them, resulted in DaBaby being disinvited from Lollapalooza and other events.) In the letter, the HIV advocates wrote: "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."
The Black leaders said that, "during the meeting, DaBaby was genuinely engaged, apologized for the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about people living with HIV, and received our personal stories and the truth about HIV and its impact on Black and LGBTQ communities with deep respect. We appreciate that he openly and eagerly participated in this forum of Black people living with HIV, which provided him an opportunity to learn and to receive accurate information."
Leaders shared the following facts with DaBaby and jointly want to share them with his fans:
1. HIV is a social justice and racial justice issue: Black Americans account for more HIV diagnoses (43%) and people living with HIV (42%) than any other racial and ethnic group in the U.S. Black Americans are vulnerable to HIV because of structural barriers, steeped in racist and anti-Black policies and practices, to resources like healthcare, education, employment and housing. The three groups most affected by HIV are Black gay men, Black cisgender women and transgender women of color.
2. HIV treatment works, U=U: People diagnosed with HIV don't "die in two or three weeks." People living with HIV, when on effective treatment, live long and healthy lives and cannot sexually transmit HIV. When someone living with HIV receives effective treatment and follows regimens prescribed by their doctor, HIV becomes undetectable when tested. When HIV is undetectable, it is untransmittable: U=U (#UequalsU)
3. HIV prevention works: HIV testing should be a part of regular medical screenings.The CDC recommends that every person ages 13-64 receive an HIV test. When a person takes a test and receives an HIV diagnosis, they can be linked to care immediately to protect their own health and prevent passing on HIV to others. When a person takes a test and learns they are HIV negative, they can then make decisions that can protect them from HIV. Medications like PrEP (a daily pill to prevent HIV) are 99% effective at preventing HIV when taken as prescribed for people who do not have HIV.
4. HIV is a chronic health condition, not a death sentence: HIV can be prevented, tested, and treated like any chronic disease such as diabetes. It is not a death sentence. People living with HIV and on treatment can be healthy, have children, and not pass on the virus (Undetectable = Untransmittable).
5. HIV stigma hurts, and spreads the disease: Shaming people living with HIV or for being on medication to prevent HIV stops people from seeking the care they need and lets undiagnosed people pass on the virus.