Eleanor Holmes Norton has scheduled a town hall meeting Saturday on HIV and AIDS awareness among teenagers. “What we found in our other town halls is that the most important way to drive out this disease is to bring it out in open conversation,” she told the Examiner.
Here’s a sense of why it’s an uphill battle: On Epiphany, the latest album from T-Pain, there’s a phone-conversation skit (“I Got It”) between the singer/rapper and a presumably fictitious girlfriend. She says she has HIV; he initially seems confused, but he closes out the conversation by saying, “I mean, we just gotta do what we gotta do. You know what, I love you, and we just gon’ make it work.” (The song immediately afterward, “Suicide,” looks at the psychology more grimly.)
Now, T-Pain made it clear in an interview with the Associated Press that his intention was to raise awareness about the disease: “A lot of people don’t think I got songs like that. … I hit on a lot of different subjects.”
But what does he get in response? At least five entries in Yahoo Answers — and numerous posts on message boards — that ask whether he actually has HIV/AIDS or not. Sigh. The questions prove at least one thing, though: Even if people can’t figure out that album skits are dramatizations, they at least have a sense that HIV/AIDS = bad for you.
For now, T-Pain seems to have more immediate problems.