Pride

DaBaby 'Eagerly Participated' In Educational Meeting With GLAAD and HIV Activists

DaBaby
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for STARZ

DaBaby attends 'Power Book III: Raising Kanan' global premiere event and screening at Hammerstein Ballroom on July 15, 2021 in New York City.

Following a series of homophobic remarks he made about HIV and AIDS, DaBaby sat down with GLAAD and nine HIV organizations to learn more about his ignorant remarks.

In a press release Tuesday (Aug. 31), GLAAD revealed that DaBaby was in attendance for a conversation with GLAAD, the Black AIDS Institute, Gilead Sciences COMPASS Initiative Coordinating Centers, National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Positive Women’s Network-USA, Prevention Access Campaign (U=U), the Southern AIDS Coalition, and Transinclusive Group, as well as "a faith and HIV advisor" to discuss the reality of living with HIV and AIDS.

The meeting was called after GLAAD and 10 other organizations penned an open letter to the rapper on Aug. 4, in which they asked DaBaby to start a dialogue with these organizations in order to "address the miseducation about HIV, expressed in your comments, and the impact it has on various communities."

According to a joint statement from the meeting attendees, DaBaby was "genuinely engaged" on the subject matter, and he "apologized for the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about people living with HIV, and received our personal stories and the truth about HIV and its impact on Black and LGBTQ communities with deep respect." The attendees went on to say that they were happy to see that the rapper "openly and eagerly participated in this forum of Black people living with HIV, which provided him an opportunity to learn and to receive accurate information."

During his set at Rolling Loud Miami on July 25, the rapper spouted off a homophobic rant in which he made ignorant and misinformed statements about HIV and AIDS. "If you didn't show up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that'll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cellphone lighter up," he said. "Ladies, if your p---- smell like water, put your cellphone lighter up. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking d--- in the parking lot, put your cellphone lighter up."

Throughout the conversation, leaders from each of these organizations educated DaBaby on the reality of living with HIV. The groups offered information, saying that both prevention of and treatment for HIV are highly effective, that those living with undetectable viral loads can live full lives without transmitting HIV to others, and that Black Americans are more vulnerable to the disease in the U.S. thanks to "structural barriers, steeped in racist and anti-Black policies and practices, to resources like healthcare, education, employment and housing."

The attendees also highlighted the fact that the continuing stigma surrounding HIV -- especially when reinforced by artists like DaBaby -- only makes the spread of HIV worse. "Shaming people living with HIV or for being on medication to prevent HIV stops people from seeking the care they need and lets undiagnosed people pass on the virus," they noted in their joint statement.

Marina Miller, who works as a community outreach coordinator with the Southern AIDS Coalition, said in a statement that she was pleased to see DaBaby taking an active role in his own education throughout the meeting. "DaBaby's willingness to listen, learn, and grow can open the door to an entirely new generation of people to do the same," she said. "Ending HIV stigma requires doing the hard work of changing hearts and minds, and often that begins with something as simple as starting a dialogue. We hope DaBaby will use his platform to educate his fans and help end the epidemic."

According a GLAAD's latest study on HIV/AIDS education and awareness in America, DaBaby is far from the only one lacking proper information on the subject. Only 48 percent of Americans surveyed said they felt "knowledgeable about HIV," while only 42 percent said that they knew "people living with HIV cannot transmit the virus while on proper treatment."

"For the second year in a row, we are finding that HIV stigma remains high while HIV knowledge remains low amongst Americans," DaShawn Usher, GLAAD's associate director for communities of color, said in a statement. "We have to think critically and intentionally about how we truly equip and engage everyday Americans with the facts, resources, and scientific advancements about HIV if we want to end the epidemic."

Most recently, DaBaby appeared alongside Marilyn Manson on Kanye West's new album, Donda, which arrived Aug. 29In his verse on "Jail, Pt. 2," DaBaby rapped about his controversy, saying, "I said one thing they ain't like, threw me out like they ain't care for me/ Threw me out like I'm garbage, huh? ... But I ain't really mad, 'cause when I look at it/ I'm getting them snakes up out my grass."