Vanessa Williams seen here with Raising Izzie co-star Rockmond Dunbar

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Film and television star Vanessa Williams is very outspoken when it comes to HIV-AIDS and the Black community.  The former “Soul Food” actress is not only a board member of the Black AIDS Institute—one of the nation’s foremost leading organizations advocating within the Black community—but she uses her celebrity to raise awareness about the disease among African American women.  According to Williams, AIDS is still the leading cause of death among black women.  Frankly this statistic doesn’t settle well with her.

So this week, Williams joined scores of other advocates, scientists, and activists for the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C. This is the first time in over 22 years that this global conference has taken place on U.S. soil since the travel ban on people with HIV was lifted.

RC had an opportunity to talk briefly with Williams before her trip during the Atlanta premiere of her new GMC original movie “Raising Izzie.” She was very optimistic about attending the conference as well the latest developments in preventative treatment.  Although she remains hopeful about the future, she still believes it is up to each of us to continue to get tested and educate ourselves about the disease.

“We have the tools and the skills to turn this thing around.  Phil Wilson, CEO of the Black AIDS Institute and someone who’s been living with the disease for over 30 years says, ‘We were greater than the middle passage, greater than slavery, greater than everything that was thrown at us.’  So we’re greater than this disease,” says Williams.

“It’s up to each one of us to get tested, take responsibility and be empowered sexually and around our sexual behavior.  I’m just so grateful and excited about where we are right now.  But, it’s on us to get the word out.  So I’m advocating!”

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