New York City radio station HOT 97 and DJ Cipha Sounds, whose real name is Luis Diaz, are now playing a different tune when it comes to HIV/AIDS education and prevention.
Diaz was suspended in 2010 for this on-air comment: “The reason I’m HIV negative is ’cause I don’t mess with Haitian girls.” His comment caused an uproar among Haitians, activists and government officials. He is now back on the air after undergoing sensitivity training focused on the Haitian community and its HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The radio station tried to make amends with other gestures like inviting C. Virginia Fields, president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), to discuss HIV on the station’s morning show. HOT 97 also featured a segment on the plight of Haitian women after a January 2010 earthquake ravaged the country. And to further show support, the station sent music trucks to a New York City rally marking the anniversary of the quake.
HOT 97 also is in the process of creating an HIV education program similar to BET’s Rap-It-Up. That public HIV information campaign focuses on African Americans, dispelling misconceptions about the virus, reducing stigma and discrimination, and encouraging HIV testing.
Here’s hoping that HOT 97 and Diaz take accurate HIV messages to the top of the charts.