Maria Davis: Hip Hop’s Big Voice For HIV/AIDS & Black Women
“I tell people all the time He needed a big mouth chick that was not afraid to do His work and to work in the HIV community, and that was gonna be me.” It’s not unusual to see music industry veteran and HIV/AIDS advocate Maria Davis addressing crowds loud and proud with her bullhorn, but even over the phone the conviction, urgency and fullness of life in her voice – warmly wrapped in a New York ‘boogie down Bronx’ accent – is evident. Instead of dampening her spirit and hardening her heart toward God, Davis’ 1995 HIV-positive diagnosis has fueled her faith even more.
What should have been a routine HIV test for a young, healthy woman in her 30s who simply wanted a life insurance policy so that her two small children would be taken care of should anything ever happen, turned out to be life changing for Davis, now 54. “At that time, we weren’t very educated about HIV or AIDS, so in ’95, that’s when I got diagnosed, we thought it was a gay, white man’s disease.” she recalls. “Especially as an African American woman, I definitely didn’t think that I had HIV.”
After the “weird way” she found out her status – reading a rejection letter for the $100,000 life insurance policy while standing in the middle of a post office – Davis immediately wrote on the back of the letter “God has another plan for me,” dated it and for nearly two decades she’s been working His plan ever since.