Celebrities Share Their HIV Testing Stories

From Raheem DeVaughn to Laz Alonso to SWV, celebrities get personal with The Root about their status in honor of National HIV Testing Day.

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  • Raheem DeVaughn (Recording Artist)

    “This year marks the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS. Since [it was discovered], HIV/AIDS has become a global pandemic. HIV/AIDS doesn’t discriminate based on race, class, gender, religious or sexual orientation. It affects us all. That is why I get tested every six months and I have a partnership with the CDC for HIV/AIDS awareness. National HIV Testing Day is necessary to know your status. Be safe, be responsible.”

    Captions by Jacque Reid

  • Laz Alonso (Actor)

    “The first time I got tested I was morbidly afraid of what the results might read. I couldn’t sleep until I got them back. When they came in, they called me but wouldn’t tell me over the phone. I sped down to the place, busted in the office and demanded to see the results. Thankfully, it was negative, but I never went to the same place again. After that experience I learned that being responsible was a lot easier than playing Russian roulette with my life. Celebrities getting tested only reinforces the fact that we are all human, and all are responsible for minimizing the spread of HIV/AIDS within our community.”

  • Q Parker (Singer-Songwriter, Member of 112)

    “HIV/AIDS is not a rich person’s disease or a poor person’s disease. It can affect everyone, especially the African-American community. Getting tested for HIV/AIDS should become a routine part of all of our lives.”

  • Tom Joyner (Host, 'The Tom Joyner Morning Show')

    “I get tested each year when I get my annual checkup at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. I have to practice what I preach, and every [time] I get the stats about AIDS and HIV, it is a stark reminder of how important it is. We owe it to ourselves, those we love and our community to lead by example. Get tested and then take responsibility, no matter what the results are.”

  • Derek J (Celebrity Hairstylist, Reality-TV Star)

    “My first time being tested was scary. I knew I didn’t have anything to worry about. However, just knowing that you are being tested for AIDS/HIV is nerve-racking. I got through it and was pleased with my results. It’s very important to get tested. No matter how safe you play it, you should get tested annually along with your annual physical. It’s very relieving to know your status.”

  • Bevy Smith (Host, 'Dinner With Bevy')

    “Each year around my birthday I take an HIV test. In the ’80s when no one really knew what AIDS was or how you could contract it, I had two cousins who died a swift death from AIDS. Their deaths are a big reason why I work with Housing Works, a charity that provides housing to people with HIV/AIDS. Whenever I tell people that I take a HIV test every year they seem shocked. Well, I’m always shocked by the amount of people who have never been tested … It’s imperative to know your status.”

  • Rockmond Dunbar (Actor)

    “You don’t have to test yourself in front of hundreds of people. You can use a rapid-detection HIV test like I did last year just to prove how easy it can be done. You don’t have to travel around the world to educate people about practicing safe sex. You don’t have to dedicate your time, efforts and love to anyone in the world but yourself, if that’s your choice. Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending for themselves. Be smart. Live healthy. Get tested.”

  • Lamman Rucker (Actor)

    “I get tested every six months. Just like the virus became a problem one person at a time, we can rectify it one person at a time. I’m empowered. I know my status.”

  • Sybil Wilkes (Co-Host, 'The Tom Joyner Morning Show')

    “Each trip to the doctor can yield its own surprises, but it never ceases to amaze me the reactions when I ask the doctor or physician’s assistant about being tested for the AIDS virus. Unless the medical professional is a woman of color, without exception I am met with surprise. Haven’t they heard the statistics that we share with listeners? One out of four new AIDS cases are African American, and two out of three are women. And still I have to ask to be tested.”

  • SWV (Recording Artists)

    Tamara (Taj) George: “It’s important to know your HIV status. I make sure I get tested every year with my yearly physical, not only for my sake but my family’s as well. It’s my responsibility.”
    Leanne (Lelee) Lyons: “I recently was tested, and I make sure that I get tested once a year. It’s a must for me. I also encourage my family to do so as well.”
    Cheryl (Coko) Clemons: “Getting tested for HIV on a regular basis is important to me, as it should be to everyone. I usually am tested probably once a year when I take my physical. Everyone should always know their status!”

  • Kem (Recording Artist)

    “I was first tested for HIV/AIDs in the ’90s. I was at risk because of my lifestyle as an active alcoholic and drug addict. It was a scary time, to say the least. Getting tested is the right thing to do if you believe you are at risk. Quality and longevity of life can be significantly improved with early diagnosis and treatment. Get tested today.”

  • Kandi Burruss (Singer-Songwriter, Reality-TV Star)

    “I get tested every year. It’s of the utmost importance. Don’t play with your life or someone else’s. Get tested.”

  • Monie Love (Radio Host, Rapper)

    “I have an aunt who contracted AIDS as an elderly person and died. I need those younger than me and older than me to lose the concept of HIV/AIDS disease playing favorites. There are no favorites.”

  • Roland Martin (TV Commentator)

    “The last time I was tested for HIV/AIDS took place three years ago at an event hosted by Rev. Jesse Jackson. I took the rapid HIV test publicly and encouraged others to do the same. The reason I did it was because we have to get people to understand that not knowing your status is even worse than contracting HIV/AIDS. As long as brothers and sisters are fearful of knowing their status, black people as a whole will be endangered by their willful ignorance.”

  • Rene Syler (TV Journalist; Owner, Goodenoughmother.com)

    “I’m old and have been married nearly 20 years now, but I remember when my then-husband-to-be and I decided we were going to get tested. Now, it’s not as if we were out partying every night and bedding everything on two legs. But in a move that stunned even me in its maturity, I decided we should both have an HIV test. So now here were are, two kids and 17 years later, and HIV/AIDS remains a fight we must win. I’m convinced we will, through knowledge, information and personal responsibility.”

  • Brian White (Actor)

    “Since my freshman year at Dartmouth College, I have gotten tested each and every year. Part of being a sexually active adult is being responsible for your actions. Knowing your status protects both you and your partner and allows you to make informed decisions. Get tested!”

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