Have the AIDS talk with your Kids, because Alicia Keys said so
By Clarissa Joan
Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are a spectrum of conditions that affect over 35 million people world-wide. According to the Center for Disease Control, African Americans have the most severe burden of all racial/ethnic groups by accounting for 44 percent of new cases. Also known as HIV/AIDS, these conditions destroy the body’s immune system’s ability to protect its self against harmful bacteria and other illnesses.
In 2003, Grammy award winning superstar, Alicia Keys, co-founded the Keep A Child Alive organization to realize the end of HIV/AIDS. Now, 12 years later, she believes it’s time for parents to talk to their kids about the impact of HIV/AIDS.” PEOPLE magazine interviewed Keys about her thoughts on the subject as it relates to parenting.
“It’s important to talk to our kids about having compassion and not ostracizing people who are infected or affected by AIDS. We must understand this is something we still are fighting and we can make tremendous strides if we keep this at the top of our list. We’ve come so far, and it would be such a shame not to take it all the way. My dream – the dream we all have – is to know we have created an AIDS-free generation. And we can do that. I hope that people who read this will be inspired to join us, learn more and be part of the end.”
This coming Nov. 5, 2015, Keys and her staff at Keep A Child Alive will be hosting their annual fundraising gala, The Black Ball at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Last year alone the event raised $2.4 million for the organization. In its 12 year long history fighting the epidemic worldwide, KCA has served over 300,000 people and they have witnessed improvements in the lifestyles of those living with disease. Medications now exist that make it 96 percent less likely that a person with the conditions will pass it on to a partner or loved one.
But what does all of this have to do with you and your child? Is it Alicia Keys’ business, how you communicate social issues in your home, and why does she care?
When Keys was young, her mother’s good friend passed away from HIV/AIDS.
“My mother’s friend passed from AIDS,” the singer, 34, told PEOPLE. “I think I was eight or nine-years-old. I was old enough to know that he wasn’t there anymore and to ask for him. My mother, of course, couldn’t really explain to me what it meant.”
In the PEOPLE interview Keys, now a mother herself, shares how she speaks to her own children about her work with Keep A Child Alive, “My oldest is only five, so I definitely talk to him about being compassionate for people in different circumstances. When I leave, he’ll say, “Mommy, where are you going?” or “When are you coming back?” I’ll tell him, “I’m helping some kids who are just like you and they need us to help them because they’d be really sick if we didn’t.”
She acknowledges that her toddler children are too young to understand the complexities of the illnesses, but that laying the foundation for compassion and understanding is still a priority of hers.
All children are different and they process new information on their own accord no matter what similarities they may have in age or grade level. With that being said, when should we speak to our children about death, sickness, poverty, illnesses, and common concerns about the preservation and the dignity of human life?
Are you ready to talk to your kids about HIV/AIDS? Do you believe this conversation will make a difference in their lives?
We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia, Penn. with her husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing. She is the Communications Associate at Impact America Fund.