Patti Labelle, Harry Belefonte, Rosie Perez, Common
This past week, the Reed for Hope Foundation (RFHF) partnered with the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to hold it’s free march and star-studded concert in an effort to bring awareness and reform to the worldwide epidemic.
In observance of World AIDS Day, music icon Patti LaBelle, Common, and JoJo were amongst celebrities to perform at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The night also included a surprise performance from Doug E. Fresh, while legendary actor, singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte received AHF’s Lifetime Achievement Awards for his significant contributions in combating the epidemic.
According to AHF, over 1.1 million people died of AIDS in 2015, with roughly 44% of new cases affecting African Americans in the United States. While technology has improved the standard of treatment HIV/AIDS patients receive, AHF says its goal is to continue prevention efforts, since a number of people are still contracting the disease at alarming rates.
Robi Reed, producer and casting director to many of Hollywood’s stars, says the Reed for Hope Foundation and its Love Healthy initiative is about taking responsibility for yourself and self-love. “Whatever that means to you, taking yourself to the doctor, taking your loved one to the doctor, you have to be responsible,” Reed stated.
Reed presented the foundation’s Sunshine Award to Common for serving as a positive role model in his global humanitarian efforts. Past recipients have included Judge Mathis, Magic Johnson, Jim Brown and Jamie Foxx, to name a few.
Actress and singer Dawnn Lewis also weighed in on the issue. “When AIDS was first brought to our attention, there was a stigma attached to it that it only affected certain people, but the reality is now decades later, we’re more informed, and we can be even more informed about what to do to eradicate it and how the disease itself is spread,” she stated. “I think whatever we can do to get people to push pause long enough from the noise, long enough from the confusion, long enough from the violence, is a wonderful thing to get a message of positivity, and of healing, and of great information out,” Lewis continued.
Lewis also says young people need to be informed about the reality of safe sex, since their desire to experiment and explore is sometimes inevitable. “We need to educate them to do it safely, we need to educate them to use wisdom with their bodies, and recognize that their bodies is their most precious gift, and to not just treat it frivolously and throw it around to whomever, whenever,” she stated.
Katrina Jackson, also known as Kat of the VH1 series Black Ink Crew Chicago, says she’s “all about supporting the cause and ending AIDS and HIV.”
“I think it’s very important for our generation to stay safe, you know safe sex is great sex, and also for our generation to get tested. You know, forget the stigma and everything that comes with it, fight the fear and go get yourself tested,” Kat declared.
AHF Los Angeles works globally to provide advanced treatment and advocacy to more than 641,000 people in 37 countries. AHF is currently leading a global initiative to identify and treat 25 million people who are unaware they are infected worldwide.