(BlackDoctor.org) –When actress Regina King wanted to encourage more people to get tested for HIV, she decided to do something that most Hollywood actresses would run away from as if trying to escape a monster in a horror flick: She underwent a public HIV screening. In 2007 King–a star of such seminal films as Poetic Justice, Jerry Maguire, Enemy of the State and Ray–joined other Black celebrities, such as Sheryl Lee Ralph, Rockmond Dunbar and Henry Simmons, to get checked for HIV as part of the Black AIDS Institute’s Test 1 Million campaign.
For this private star, that brave act of public exposure aptly demonstrated how strongly she feels about this issue. King, who can be seen weekly on TNT as a star of the critically acclaimed cop show Southland, says that she is anxious to find any way possible to reach more young people with the message, Get tested now.
What made you become involved in the fight against AIDS?
The obvious reasons–the way it’s affected our community more than anyone else’s. We just have to educate. The more people that are involved–the more people are talking about it, putting the right information out there–the more I think our numbers will start to decrease.
How has the disease personally touched your life?
One of my close friends has been living with HIV for 17 years. A lot of my education regarding it early on came from him living and learning through it. It’s definitely showed me it’s not a death sentence. Initially that’s how most people regarded HIV: as an immediate death sentence. I think that alone makes a lot of people apprehensive about testing.
When you signed on to support the Test 1 Million campaign, you were adamant that you wanted to have your results revealed publicly. Why did you think it was important to take such a proactive and unusual stance?