Bleak HIV/AIDS stats for African American women

Models featuring designs by Michele Walden.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Sonya Lockett, vice president of corporate social responsibility for Black Entertainment Network (BET), told an audience of mostly women than their discussion around HIV/AIDS should include the basics — Education, Prevention, and Testing.

During her keynote address at the annual “Walking In Her Shoes’ Women’s Empowerment luncheon on March 14, Lockett told the group that self-worth, self-respect, self-care and self-love are the “four selves” women should value in their lives.

“Love yourself enough to face down the fear that threatens to cause us to make choices that do not honor who we know ourselves to be,” Lockett said to the colorfully dressed ladies seated in the Emmanuel Baptist Church annex in Brooklyn.

Head of the Emmy Award winning “Rap It Up” campaign and BET Foundation’s Women’s Health symposiums, Lockett commemorated National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, by saying that she believes in the power of collective voices in the fight against the disease.

As a devoted advocate in the fight, Lockett who develops cross-network strategic initiatives that concern viewers, painted a bleak picture of the statistics of African American women, who she said were attracting the disease at an alarming rate, while the numbers decreased in other communities.

“Ladies, HIV and AIDS, have not gone away. Black women still account for a disproportionate number of cases,” said the former director of communications and marketing for “LIFEbeat,” the Music Industry Fights Aids — a non-profit dedicated to reaching young people about the disease.

Lockett went to say that one in four new HIV infections occur among young people between the ages of 13 and 24, and noted that BET’s yearly Black College tour offers testing to combat the spread of the disease.

“We need to talk to our young people about HIV prevention, about how HIV is transmitted, and about how they can protect themselves – and that does mean talking about sex,” she added.

The vibrant midday event included an interpretive dance by the Temple of Praise girls, and a runway fashion show facilitated by Professor Steven Cutting, of the Fashion Institute of Technology and Michelle Elaine Harris.

Designers included, Guyanese Roger Gary, Greta Wallace, Michele Walden, and Douglas Says. Young designers included: Sidney Fannell, Brittany Williams and 13-year-old, Tyyan Williams.

The insightful program, themed “Share Knowledge Take Action” was emceed by Luticha Brown, FIT fashion merchandising faculty staff, while Muriel Good-Trufant and Leslie Simmonds of the Chosen Women’s Ministry, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS and the NY City Council Faith based HIV/AIDS Initiative hosted the initiative.

The Caribbean Women’s Association made testing possible during the three-hour initiative that began and ended with prayers by Rev Anthony L. Trufant.

From left, Sonya Lockett, BET VP, Professor Steven Cutting, Muriel Good-Trufant, Luticha Brown, FIT faculty staff, and Internet host of CSW, Selwyn Collins.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

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