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DaBaby meets with leaders from HIV organizations to discuss facts, personal stories of living with virus

During the meeting, leaders say DaBaby was genuinely engaged and apologized for the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about people living with HIV.
In this Sunday, March 14, 2021, file photo, DaBaby arrives at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards at...
In this Sunday, March 14, 2021, file photo, DaBaby arrives at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards at the Los Angeles Convention Center.(Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 11:12 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2021 at 11:15 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte music superstar DaBaby met with Black leaders from nine HIV organizations across the United States to discuss facts and personal stories of living and thriving with HIV.

During the meeting, leaders say DaBaby was genuinely engaged and apologized for the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about people living with HIV.

“We appreciate that he openly and eagerly participated in this forum of Black people living with HIV, which provided him an opportunity to learn and to receive accurate information,” part of a joint statement read.

The leaders called for a meeting with the artist in an open letter on Aug. 4 after the rapper said harmful and inaccurate comments during his live performance at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami.

In the letter, the HIV advocates wrote: “At a time when HIV continues to disproportionately impact Black Americans and queer and transgender people of color, a dialogue is critical. We must address the miseducation about HIV expressed in your comments, and the impact it has on various communities.”

As of Aug. 26, 125 organizations signed on to support the open letter to DaBaby.

Organizations signing the letter include the Gilead COMPASS Initiative Coordinating Centers at Emory University, the University of Houston, Southern AIDS Coalition, and Wake Forest University along with at least 44 COMPASS partners including Arkansas Black Gay Men Forum, Partnership To End AIDS Status Inc. (PEAS), My Brother’s Keeper, Inc., Relationships Unleashed, and Advocacy House Services.

On Wednesday, Aug. 25, representatives from Black AIDS Institute, Gilead Sciences COMPASS Initiative Coordinating Centers, GLAAD, National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Positive Women’s Network-USA, Prevention Access Campaign (U=U), the Southern AIDS Coalition, and Transinclusive Group, as well as a faith and HIV advisor, discussed HIV history and education, as well as the groups’ work in Black, LGBTQ and faith communities.

A joint statement from the organizations and meeting attendees was released Tuesday:

“The open letter to DaBaby was our way to extend him the same grace each of us would hope for. Our goal was to ‘call him in instead of calling him out.’ We believed that if he connected with Black leaders living with HIV that a space for community building and healing could be created. We are encouraged he swiftly answered our call and joined us in a meaningful dialogue and a thoughtful, educational meeting. During our meeting, DaBaby was genuinely engaged, apologized for the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about people living with HIV, and received our personal stories and the truth about HIV and its impact on Black and LGBTQ communities with deep respect. We appreciate that he openly and eagerly participated in this forum of Black people living with HIV, which provided him an opportunity to learn and to receive accurate information. As community leaders who understand the power of conversations as a path to education and evolution, we know that DaBaby received meaningful facts. We were also able to share personal stories about our lives as everyday people who acquired HIV. Now, we wish for him to use his platform to relay that critical information to his fanbase and encourage people to get tested and know their status. During our meeting, DaBaby acknowledged that the HIV facts we presented- many of which he himself was unaware of- are what every American needs to know: HIV is preventable and when treated properly, cannot be passed on. At a time when HIV continues to disproportionately impact Black communities, celebrities and influencers of all backgrounds have the power to defeat the stigma that fuels the epidemic. We must all do our part to make the public aware of medication that can prevent HIV and to get more people tested and treated. Together we can end this epidemic. 40 years is far too long. Stigma hurts; prevention, testing, and treatment work.”

More information about the meeting, the organizations involved and facts about HIV can be found here.

Leaders provided a quote from Marnina Miller, a Community Outreach Coordinator with the Southern AIDS Coalition, a Gilead COMPASS Initiative Coordinating Center, who participated in the meeting.

”DaBaby’s willingness to listen, learn, and grow can open the door to an entirely new generation of people to do the same. We are proud to be part of the Gilead COMPASS Initiative’s efforts to train nearly 13,000 people to become more effective leaders and advocates within the HIV community across the South and hope that each can have impactful conversations just like ours with DaBaby. Ending HIV stigma requires doing the hard work of changing hearts and minds, and often that begins with something as simple as starting a dialogue. We hope DaBaby will use his platform to educate his fans and help end the epidemic,” Miller said.

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