Media ‘Ignoring the Severity’ of AIDS Crisis Worldwide, Rap Star Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs Says
Rap star Sean "P. Diddy" Combs yesterday accused the media of "ignoring the severity" of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the Associated Press reports. Combs, speaking at a press conference before performing at MTV's "Staying Alive" concert in Cape Town, South Africa, said, "I don't think you see enough of this story in your face. There are millions and millions of people that are dying and a lot of it is ... because it's Africans, it's black people that are dying at this high rate." An estimated 4.7 million South Africans, or 11% of the country's population, are HIV-positive, the Associated Press reports. Combs added, "Once you know about it, you are almost an accessory to the genocide ... if you don't do anything about it" (Associated Press, 11/23). R&B singer Alicia Keys, who also performed at the concert, said, "I think it's important that we get real about what is going on, especially about AIDS. It's important to respect yourself and protect yourself" (Sunday Times, 11/23). The concert was partially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A similar concert featuring artists Michelle Branch, Dave Matthews and Missy Elliot was held Nov. 7 in Seattle. Saturday's concert was intended to promote awareness, encourage prevention and eliminate the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS (Associated Press, 11/23).
Portions of both concerts will make up part of a 90-minute MTV special that will be broadcast worldwide on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day. According to MTV Executive Bill Roedy, the program will reach a potential MTV audience of one billion people and will be offered free of charge to other networks, boosting potential viewership to two billion people. Roedy said that the program would include a video-taped message from former South African President Nelson Mandela (Boyle, Reuters, 11/23). "Mandela will introduce a young rape victim who is now HIV-positive and they will talk about the discrimination she has had to endure because of it," Roedy said. Reuters reports that MTV has been working closely with the South African AIDS group Treatment Action Campaign to ensure that the message of "awareness and tolerance" gets across during the special (Boyle, Reuters, 11/22). Additional information on the broadcast is available online.