(The Root) — Keri Hilson gets tested for HIV/AIDS every six months, and she’s lending her name to a product that will allow you to do the same.
“I make healthy decisions when it comes to my sex life, and I make really good decisions to lower my risk of HIV,” Hilson told The Root during a sit-down interview on Wednesday in New York City.
In honor of National HIV Testing Day, observed on June 27, Hilson is promoting OraQuick, a do-it-yourself testing kit that allows people to test for the virus at home. According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, African Americans account for nearly half of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents. Despite a recent decline in new reported infections among black women, they are infected at a rate 20 times higher than that of white women and five times as high as Latinas’.
These statistics don’t elude Hilson, and she wants African-American women to be obsessed with their own sexual health. “I’m aware of the fact that at some point in my life, though it hasn’t happened yet, I will be affected by this disease to some degree, whether it is a family member or friend,” Hilson says. “I feel the need to be a little bit more responsible. These young girls are listening and watching. I want them to be about that Love Healthy life.”
She’s also not one to mince words about how the music industry — particularly hip-hop and R&B — has contributed to a culture that does not inspire healthy sex habits. “The more popular forms of entertainment do not promote sexual responsibility or social responsibility,” Hilson says. “The norm is to live irresponsibly,” she says, citing “YOLO,” the ubiquitous “You only live once” motto and movement that was popularized by the rapper Drake. Hilson challenges the culture to recalibrate the YOLO mentality so that people value their bodies.
“I’d like to see people say, ‘YOLO, so know your status.’ Grab a condom, because you only get one body,” she explains.