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Sheryl Lee Ralphs Crusade Against HIV/AIDS

citizen | 2/16/2012, 4:31 p.m.
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Sheryl Lee Ralph tells the Chicago Citizen why she became an HIV/AIDS activist and what can be done to spread awareness in the African-American community. (Photo Courtesy of Sheryl Lee Ralph)

Ralph was awarded the first Red Ribbon Award by the United Nations for her unique use of the arts in HIV/AIDS activism. She also holds the distinction of being the first and youngest female to graduate of Rutgers University. Ralph graduated from the prestigious university at the age of 19.

Black and Latina women are disproportionately affected at all stages by the HIV infection compared with women of other races/ethnicities.

Ralph said this may be in part because some women of color may feel a need to settle for partners who engage in risky sexual behaviors instead of choosing a partner who statistically is less likely to have the disease.

If we loved ourselves more, if we felt better about ourselves, we wouldnt do some of the things we do and wouldnt put ourselves in situations to be hurt, infected [and] to be the last ones helped, she said.

Ralph is anticipating the release of her memoir Redefining Diva. Due out in March, the book captures Ralphs life lessons from fame to personal growth. It has already received rave reviews.

Sheryl Lee Ralph is a true D.I.V.A. She uses her powers for good not evil, said Wendy Williams, daytime talk show host. This book is truly an inspiration to all who read.

The book is available for pre-order at amazon.com

Overall, Ralph is working hard to destroy the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS in the Black community. She is also working to uplift and encourages all women of color.

We need to realize that we can do better, must do better, she told the Chicago Citizen. We owe it to ourselves and to our children.

If you are concerned about your HIV/AIDS status, log on to www.hivtest.org to find a testing location near you.

By Thelma SardinTwitter:@thelmasardin