With World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) approaching, singer/songwriter Alicia Keys is calling upon her peers in the music industry to raise their voices to help millions suffering from AIDS in Africa.
“Just for a moment imagine the media hysteria and global outrage if 25 million Americans, many of them children, died from a treatable disease because the medicine was too costly,” Keys writes in a commentary published in the Dec. 4 issue of Billboard, on newsstands today (Nov. 26). “Imagine if another 42 million people were infected and had no hope of paying for life-saving treatment… This is exactly what is happening throughout sub-Saharan Africa.”
Keys, who recently traveled to Africa, points out that UNAIDS estimates 100 million will be infected with AIDS by the end of this decade. She also notes that less than 1% of Africans with AIDS have access to antiretroviral treatment that has greatly improved the lives of those inflicted in Western countries.
“The disease is more than a humanitarian catastrophe; it is a moral crisis that is beginning to destroy whole countries,” she continues. “I believe this should be as important as the war on terrorism; as important as rebuilding impoverished countries like Afghanistan or Iraq; as important as peace in the Middle East. This should be as important as if our own daughters and sons were dying.”
To that end, Keys encourages support of Keep a Child Alive, which has established treatment programs in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda. Other artists affiliated with the group include Rod Stewart, Good Charlotte, Cher, Nelly, Josh Groban and Avril Lavigne.
Keys will headline the Pusher’s Ball, a Dec. 1 gala fundraiser for the organization in New York, which will also feature Roy Ayers, Babyface, Common, Anthony Hamilton, Angelique Kidjo, Lenny Kravitz, Mos Def, Lou Reed, Angie Stone and “a surprise guest.” Tickets for the event at the Angel Orsanz Center, range from $250 to VIP sponsorships of $50,000.
“We ALL need to get involved,” Keys implores. “We need to use our talent and individual and professional power and privilege to help create and fuel a global movement. Otherwise, we’ll be known as the generation with everything except compassion.”