Celebs reveal the absurd reason why we haven't beaten AIDS in telling PSA.

Right now — this very moment — we have the tools to stop AIDS in America ... but the S-word is getting in the way.

Nope, not that one. Stigma.

“I felt very lonely," Justin Bell of Jacksonville, Florida, told WJCT of his emotional health after being diagnosed with HIV in 2007.


Because he'd lived a "clean life," he explained, he didn't think it was possible for him to contract the virus. It took a near-death emergency room visit to spur his diagnosis.

"I felt as if no one else could possibly understand what I was going through."

1.2 million Americans are living with HIV.

Unfortunately, Bell's story is not unique. Despite the fact that we've come so far with prevention and the science behind fighting the virus, misconceptions about what kinds of people have HIV make it much more difficult to combat.

"Stigma is the greatest driver behind the epidemic," according to GLAAD. "Stigma is what prevents people from taking preventive measures, getting tested, and getting into and staying in treatment. By stigmatizing people with HIV, we are actually making all of society more vulnerable."

Stigma is also a big reason why GLAAD partnered with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to create a new PSA.

And they recruited some star power to help get the message out.

Meredith Vieira, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Groff, Michael Emerson, Tituss Burgess, and Bebe Neuwirth can all be spotted in the 30-second ad released on Oct. 20, 2015, which aims to "inspire, inform, and reignite the passion and action needed to beat the HIV and AIDS epidemic once and for all."



GIFs via GLAAD/YouTube.

According to Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of GLAAD, the PSA focuses on the form of stigma that persists throughout "the sensationalized and negative media coverage of the HIV and AIDS crisis."

"All too often, the way the media portrays HIV today stigmatizes those who are living with the virus. Currently, the popular characterization of people with HIV we see, in news media especially, is as potential spreaders of the virus, and in some worst-case scenarios, as predators."
GLAAD

It's a shame, too. Because the facts prove we could be doing so much more in stopping the virus.

HIV is still affecting millions of people, but it's not making headlines like it used to.

About 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV — more than the population of some states. And infection rates of young people — those who didn't witness the AIDS crisis of the 1980s firsthand — are disproportionately high.

According to the CDC, people between 13 and 24 years old accounted for over a quarter of all new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2010. What's more, it's estimated that half of American youth who are infected don't even know it yet.

"Conversation about HIV and AIDS is barely discussed in individual circles and has comparatively fallen out of the news cycle. This is despite the fact that the U.S. has not seen a decrease in new infection rates in nearly two decades."
Joel Goldman, managing director of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation

Here's how you can promote change.

It's OK to start small.

Combating stigma starts with simply learning the facts — like who can contract the virus and how. Then, talk about it — don't be afraid to chat about HIV with loved ones or your partners (it may not be the most romantic discussion topic, but it's an important one). And — this one's big — don't forget to get tested and always use protection. It's crucial.

Learn more about HIV and how you can help prevent it here.

Check out the PSA below:

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via CNN / Twitter

Eviction seemed imminent for Dasha Kelly, 32, and her three young daughters Sharron, 8; Kia, 6; and Imani, 5, on Monday. The eviction moratorium expired over the weekend and it looked like there was no way for them to avoid becoming homeless.

The former Las Vegas card dealer lost her job due to casino closures during the pandemic and needed $2,000 to cover her back rent. The mother of three couldn't bear the thought of being put out of her apartment with three children in the scorching Nevada desert.

"I had no idea what we were going to do," Kelly said, according to KOAT.

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