DaBaby joined a virtual, private meeting last week to discuss HIV education in the wake of his homophobic comments that sparked outrage earlier this summer, leaders from nine advocacy organizations announced Tuesday.
Rapper DaBaby, whose real name is Jonathan Kirk, joined leaders from the organizations Black AIDS Institute, Gilead Sciences COMPASS Initiative Coordinating Centers, GLAAD, National Minority AIDS Council, The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Positive Women’s Network-USA, Prevention Access Campaign, the Southern AIDS Coalition, and Transinclusive Group to discuss HIV history, education and outreach, particularly in Black, LGBTQ and faith communities.
The artist was “genuinely engaged, apologized for the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about people living with HIV, and received our personal stories and the truth about HIV and its impact on Black and LGBTQ communities with deep respect,” leaders of the nine organizations said in a joint statement.
“We appreciate that he openly and eagerly participated in this forum of Black people living with HIV, which provided him an opportunity to learn and to receive accurate information.”
USA TODAY has reached out to DaBaby’s representatives for further comment.
Eleven LGBTQ and HIV-focused organizations, including GLAAD and the Black AIDS Institute, called on DaBaby to discuss facts about HIV after he made homophobic remarks at Rolling Loud music festival about derogatory remarks referencing HIV/AIDS, and later shared similar sentiments in a music video.
In an Aug. 2 post on his Twitter and Instagram pages, the rapper apologized for his “hurtful and triggering” words after he was dropped from the Governors Ball music festival and Lollapalooza. (As of Aug. 8, the post was deleted from social media).
The organizations sent an open letter to DaBaby on Aug. 4, inviting him to meet with HIV organizations to learn more about the virus as well as provide facts on what HIV is and what it is not.
“At a time when HIV continues to disproportionately impact Black Americans and queer and transgender people of color, a dialogue is critical,” the letter read. “We must address the miseducation about HIV, expressed in your comments, and the impact it has on various communities.”
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During their meeting a few weeks later, leaders said they provided DaBaby with “meaningful facts” and “personal stories about our lives as everyday people who acquired HIV.”
Now, they’re calling on him to use his platform to fight the stigma, spread accurate information (such as the fact that HIV is preventable and cannot be passed on when treated properly, per the release) and to encourage others to get tested.
“At a time when HIV continues to disproportionately impact Black communities, celebrities and influencers of all backgrounds have the power to defeat the stigma that fuels the epidemic,” the leaders said. “We must all do our part to make the public aware of medication that can prevent HIV and to get more people tested and treated. Together we can end this epidemic. 40 years is far too long. Stigma hurts; prevention, testing, and treatment work.”
HIV is not a “death sentence,” the experts reiterated. But stigma surrounding HIV prevents those who need care from seeking help, which can lead to further transmission.
“The open letter to DaBaby was our way to extend him the same grace each of us would hope for,” their statement added. “Our goal was to ‘call him in instead of calling him out.’ We believed that if he connected with Black leaders living with HIV that a space for community building and healing could be created. We are encouraged he swiftly answered our call and joined us in a meaningful dialogue and a thoughtful, educational meeting.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DaBaby meets with HIV organizations after homophobic controversy