Laverne Cox is way too familiar with the pain caused by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Though she is HIV-negative, she has been watching people succumb to the disease since childhood. The Orange Is The New Black star is now channeling that pain into activism and has partnered with Band-Aid and RED for their latest campaign.
Band-Aid and RED have collaborated to sell red bandaids and donate 20 cents from each purchase to the “U.S. Fund for the Global Fund to support and fund Global Fund programs for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa,” People reports. The 20 cents will cover a day’s worth of antiretroviral medication.
“What is so beautiful about what Johnson & Johnson and RED and Band-Aid are doing is that so much of this work is about educating people, providing medication, [but] then they’re also working to find a cure,” Cox told People. “These things have to go hand in hand if we really want to do the work of fighting HIV/AIDS globally.”
Cox added that it is crucial that we normalize conversation around HIV/AIDS so we can destroy the stigma. She said the deadly disease isn’t bought up in conversation for her until people know that she’s transgender, and that’s a problem.
“I think so often in my experience as a Black trans woman, so often it’s assumed that I’m HIV-positive. Like when someone knows I’m trans, the conversation around HIV/AIDS comes up in a way when they don’t know I’m trans, it doesn’t come up. Again, it’s these layers of stigma, and these are things we internalize.”
Cox hopes that one day the shame surrounding the diagnosis will fade.
“We have to talk about stigma and shame directly to really have people understand that it’s something that we have to actively fight against.”