Did you know today is World AIDS Day? Since 1988 the first day in December has been set aside to unite efforts worldwide in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Statistics show that around 40 million people are living with HIV throughout the world – and that number increases in every region every day. Even more startling, in the first 10 months of 2006, some 4.3 million people became newly infected with the virus and around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.
The numbers are what prompted a popular politician and an award-winning rapper to team up to empower youth about the disease. Senator Barack Obama (who is currently contemplating running for president) hooked up with rapper Ludacris (his real name is Chris Bridges) to brainstorm ways they could stop the spread of HIV and end prejudice among the portion of Americans most at risk for the disease—20-somethings.
After meeting with Obama (a first-term Democrat from Illinois) in Chicago Ludacris headed over to nearby Northwestern University to launch the YouthAIDS “Kick Me” campaign to raise HIV/AIDS awareness. While there the Grammy award-winning musician told reporters it was his civil duty to educate his fans about the devastating disease, and what’s more, encourage them to help stop “the ignorance and prejudice that fuels the spread of this preventable disease.”
Ludacris told the college students that they needed to take action against HIV and AIDS by wearing a red ribbon, talking to others about the disease, or getting involved in events affiliated with the Worlds AIDS Campaign.
According to news reports, the rapper drew record crowds at the university, though it would stand to reason that he would. After all, his latest album, “Release Therapy,” debuted at number one three months ago. And, even if you don’t buy his music you had to be impressed by his well-delivered performances in the Oscar-winning film “Crash” and “Hustle & Flow.” I hope his legions of young fans will follow his advice when it comes to battling HIV and AIDS.