All Articles Tagged "rae lewis thornton"
By Brittany Hutson
Originally regarded as a gay white man’s disease in the early 1980s, nearly three decades later it is the Black community that has been hit the hardest by HIV and AIDS. Despite continuous messages of awareness and prevention, Blacks, who represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for nearly 46 percent of people diagnosed with HIV at the end of 2007, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Worldwide, there is an estimated 33.3 million people living with HIV and AIDS, and an estimated 1.8 million people died as a result of AIDS last year alone. The virus knows no boundary—whether you are homo or heterosexual, male or female, young or old, anyone can be at risk. Here’s a list of 11 activists that have joined the fight against AIDS:
Sheryl Lee Ralph
An AIDS activist for over 25 years, award-winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph first took notice of how HIV/AIDS infiltrated and crippled our community in the early 1980s during her stint on Broadway in the classic, Dreamgirls. Back then, a mysterious disease was floating around called GRID (Gay Related Immune Disorder) that was killing gay men on Broadway and no one wanted to talk about it. As a memorial to the friends she lost to HIV/AIDS, Ralph founded The Diva Foundation in 1991, a national not-for-profit that uses music and entertainment to inform, educate and erase the stigma which is still attached to the disease. Ralph also wrote, directed and performed a one-woman play called Sometimes I Cry, which tells real life stories of women striving to cope with HIV/AIDS. Ralph is a national spokesperson for the National Minority AIDS council and sits on the boards of several AIDS organizations. In 2005, she received the United Nation’s first Red Ribbon Leadership Award for her tireless work with AIDS.