HIV/AIDS has hit blacks disproportionately hard. They account for more than half of new cases, according to Michael Weinstein, the president of AHF, and too often they are in the later stages of the disease, making the outcome grim. “A lot of people can’t afford to buy their drugs or leave their community to go get tested or get the proper health care,” Johnson said. “We have to educate people, especially in the black and brown community. That’s been my focus through the last 10 years, through the churches, through the schools and through the colleges as well. The numbers are too high. When you think about the new cases, more than 50 percent are African-American. We’ve got to bring those numbers down and work on the stigma as well, (plus) the it-can’t-happen-to-me (perception).”
Today, Gasol’s possible paths meet with a new public service announcement presented on television as part of World AIDS Day 2010. While cities internationally will be swathed in red and/or observing the date in other fashions, the PR wing of the United Nations’ World AIDS Day organization launched its latest in the “Greater than AIDS” campaign. Gasol has been one of the more visible figures in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in recent years and has been named to the UNAIDS High Level Commission on HIV Prevention. Alongside Gasol in the campaign are Russell Westbrook, Al Horford and Candace Wiggins; a potential on-court all-star team, this quartet also comprises quite a charitable bunch. Wiggins’ father died of AIDS and the WNBA player has formed a partnership with nonprofit Until There’s A Cure. Horford has frequently been noted locally for initiatives in Atlanta, while Westbrook notably took up the mantle of two-sport star last spring for the Oklahoma City Urban Youth Scholarship Fund.