On Thursday morning, Alicia Keys hosted a community conversation in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood on the issue of HIV/AIDS. Joined at Harlem Hospital by local residents, elected officials and community leaders, the singer expressed her concerns about the growing number of minorities who are diagnosed with the disease.
“There are serious misconceptions out there that keep HIV/AIDS in the shadows,” said Keys in a press release. “Each and every one of us has to come together to change that. There is no reason that black and Hispanic people should continue to be affected like this.”
She hopes that by having an open and honest conversation about HIV/AIDS that any “stigma and fear” can be overcome and that people can “start a real dialogue that allows us to know, learn and share the truth.”
Russell Simmons, who was also in attendance, shared the same sentiments. He said in a statement, “We have a responsibility to ourselves, to our friends, and to our community to become educated on the impacts of HIV/AIDS and the hip-hop community has an important role to play in that.”
During the 90-minute open forum, attendees were allowed to ask serious questions about HIV/AIDS and about Alicia’s Empowered campaign, which has partnered with the Greater than AIDS public information organization. When one audience member asked what the singer hopes to accomplish with this campaign, Keys said, “I want HIV to become something we talk about often and openly. I want it to be something that’s not awkward.”
She added, “I want the next generation of kids to grow up and wonder why it ever was.” Hours after the event, Alicia made sure to thank everyone for attending via Twitter.
Her new campaign is designed to reach women in the U.S. with information about HIV/AIDS and highlight their power in changing the course of the epidemic. You can learn more via GreaterThan.org/Campaign/Empowered.
In related news, Keys will continue her philanthropic efforts when her nonprofit organization, Keep a Child Alive, celebrates its 10th anniversary at its annual Black Ball later this fall. The event will help raise funds for families in Africa and India affected by HIV.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio