Chirping for world peace just won’t win a girl the crown anymore. Since
Leanza Cornett was dubbed Miss America 1993 with the first-ever AIDS
platform (education and prevention), some valiant pageant vixens have
dolled up the virus into their cause du jour. With Uganda launching
Africa’s second pageant for positive ladies this month, POZ marked the
milestone by catching up with five of our favorite sash wearers to take
the pulse of their activism.
Name Leanza Cornett
Title Miss America 1993
The former Miss Florida testified before Congress and helped get AIDS
education into classrooms. “A lot of activism was associated with
outrageous antics, but I was invited to speak at rotary clubs and grade
Now Cornett will be attending a Florida AIDS fundraiser this month—and hosting dog shows on the Animal Planet channel.
Name Kate Shindle
Title Miss America 1998
Mission Miss Illinois advocated for needle exchange, taking her tiara to
the 1998 World AIDS confab. “I didn’t have anything to lose,” she says
of her battle to teach harm reduction. “Miss America can’t be voted out
Now A Broadway actress, Shindle recently spoke up in home state New Jersey for much-needed needle exchanges.
Name Natalie Glebova
Title Miss Universe 2005
Glebova admits she was an AIDS novice before winning (the
Trump-owned org assigns AIDS platforms). Now the Canadian is
passionate, even taking a public HIV test in South Africa. “This might
even be my career.”
Now After speaking at a November AIDS confab in Brazil, Glebova plans to open Russia’s eyes to HIV.
Name Cynthia Leshomo
Title Miss HIV Stigma-Free Botswana 2005
HIVer Leshomo beat out 11 other HIV positive beauties in
February, showing that HIV isn’t always the pits. “Some people are very
ignorant—they complain that the pageant encourages people to get
Now Leshomo has hosted HIV powwows for
schoolchildren and met with the president. She plans to educate “until
the day I die.”
Name Tara Burns
Title Miss Tennessee 2005
Mission A volunteer with a Nashville ASO, Burns is this year’s only Miss
America contestant with an AIDS platform. “After doing community
I was hit [with the fact] that HIV awareness is not where it should be in America.”
Burns is cochairing Nashville’s AIDS Walk and prepping to
outclass 50 other Miss America wannabes in January 2006.