Jackson nurse uses hip-hop festival to raise awareness about HIV / AIDS

Yolanda Singleton, originally from Jackson, has cared for patients living with HIV and has seen its effects on them for over 30 years. The RN, who focuses on women’s health, has also seen the progression of HIV-related health care over time.

In 2018, AIDSVu reported that more than 9,000 people in Mississippi are living with HIV, of which 69.6% are males and 30.4% are females.

“(HIV) is no longer a death sentence,” Singleton told the Mississippi Free Press. “A lot of times people think if I get HIV it just means I’m going to die in six months. People can now lead healthy and productive lives with positive HIV status with appropriate health care. “

Reach a captive audience

The nurse also owns Xperience Jxn Entertainment, an event business that began with her need to host exciting events in the capital after hearing complaints about too little to do in Jackson.

“They can spend Jackson’s money in Jackson, and then we can also attract people from other cities to bring money to Jackson, spend money and leave money here in Jackson,” said Singleton. She also wants the money they spend on helping people living with HIV.

Singleton spoke to the Mississippi Free Press a week before the Old School Hip Hop Reunion, an event she hosted with the Black Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition (BLACC) in conjunction with the AIDS Health Foundation to sponsor the event. The hip-hop concert, which was scheduled for August 28, 2021 but postponed until January 2022, is an opportunity to educate the community on HIV / AIDS awareness.

The Old School Hip Hop Reunion will blend music and education to educate the community about HIV / AIDS awareness on January 15, 2022. Courtesy of Xperience Jxn Entertainment

The original timing of the event couldn’t have been more perfect after the debacle with the rapper the baby, which received backlash for negative comments about the LGBTQ + community and comments stigmatizing HIV / AIDS at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami, Florida in July.

“We have a captive audience and we will have the opportunity to talk about HIV, its impact on our community and raise awareness about it,” Singleton explained. “One thing about HIV and AIDS is that it affects one in nine people. And what I mean when I say that one in nine people is either infected with HIV or knows someone who is infected with HIV.

Young black men most at risk

The AIDS Health Foundation is a three-decade-old global nonprofit dedicated to providing cutting-edge medical care and advocacy, regardless of a person’s ability to pay, said the national director of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, W. Imara Canady, Mississippi Free Press.

“If a person is HIV positive, we link them to their first doctor’s appointment within three working days at most. We have over 1.5 million people in care, many of whom do not have the capacity to afford the life-saving care they need and deserve, ”he said in a Zoom interview on 23 August.

Rapper Da Baby holds a microphone in his hand during a performance.
Rapper Da Baby made derogatory statements about the LGBTQ + community and people living with HIV / AIDS at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami, Florida in July. Photo courtesy of Robb Cohen

Sharon Brown, an AIDS Healthcare Foundation activist who was also on the roll, began working for the organization in 2014, a year after a clinic opened in Jackson. As an activist, she goes out into the community and organizes forums to educate the community about HIV, STDs and the importance of getting regular HIV tests, Brown explained.

“In 2018, Mississippi ranked in the top 10 in the United States, with African American men between the ages of 18 and 25 being the highest demographic area for contracting HIV and African American women being the second highest group. higher, ”she said on the call.

‘Peel Back The Layers’

On August 24, seven days after MFP’s interview with Yolanda Singleton, she announced on Facebook that the Old School Hip Hop reunion was postponed until January 15, 2022. The reason? The delta variant.

In July, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported more than 400 new cases of COVID-19 on July 7, the most for a day since March 13 of this year. Since then, cases have continued to rise to the point that state hospitals are filled to the brim, with UMMC having to convert a garage into a field hospital, with other facilities across the state following suit.

Students across the state had to quarantine following the start of the school year. And an eighth year lost his battle against covid-19 on the heels of Governor Tate Reeves by downplaying child cases. Mississippi has learned that an infant had died of COVID-19 as good as several pregnant women, and Dr Thomas Dobbs said this week that he had identified 72 fetal deaths, or “stillbirths,” associated with pregnant women infected with COVID-19, all unvaccinated.

Canady said he, Singleton and the rest of his team had had many in-depth conversations regarding the concert’s postponement as they were concerned about the health and safety of spectators given the increase in COVID cases across the state. .

Red free HIV test truck with a line of people outside
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation sent a mobile testing unit to a community picnic in Jackson in honor of National HIV Testing Day, as part of the partnership between AHF and Xperience Jxn Entertainment Group. Courtesy of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation

“One message we want to tell people is not only that we want you to make sure you get tested for HIV, as we are also seeing an increase in new HIV diagnoses occurring throughout COVID, but we seriously want let people go wherever they can to get their COVID vaccine, ”Canady said.

The concert was pushed back to the Martin Lurther King Jr. bank holiday weekend in January, coinciding with the event’s #StandAgainstHate campaign.

“We have to stop. We know love triumphs over everything, ”Singleton said in the telephone interview. “We really need to take a stand against hate and come together, be united and help our community. “

Eliminate stigma

Despite the concert being postponed, Canady said there is still a lot of work to be done in black and brown communities on education, awareness and breaking down the stigma surrounding HIV / AIDS.

The incident with Da Baby is an example of a young black man who grew up in an environment where some of his statements are what a lot of people feel and haven’t shared, Canady said. He does not endorse his statements, but sees it as an opportunity to educate the young man.

Yolanda Singleton
Xperience Jxn Entertainment owner Yolanda Singleton has been a registered nurse for over 30 years and has long witnessed the effects of HIV on her patients. Photo courtesy of Yolanda Singleton

“I think we need to remove diapers, remove his public status and recognize that this is a younger brother who also needs to be educated and aware of what is going on in our community and how he can use its platform in a positive way. way to make a difference and educate the many people who follow him, especially these young people, ”he said.

Following the incident, the rapper doubled down on his statements, then apologized on social media before dropping his apology. August 31 was reported that he met nine HIV awareness organizations.

As for Yolanda Singleton, she challenges people to get tested every six months, if not every year, for HIV / AIDS.

“It has to become a conversation at home, it doesn’t matter if you are single, married, gay, straight, black, white, short, tall, rich and poor. It does not matter. You have to go get tested, ”she said.

The Old School Hip Hop Reunion will take place on January 15, 2021 at the Mississippi Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are available at the Mississippi Coliseum box office, Ticketmaster, or the Xperience Jxn hotline at 678-322-8098. To learn more about the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, visit https://hivcare.org/ and to test, visit www.freeHIVtest.net. The foundation clinic is located at 766 Lakeland Drive and is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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