Today is World AIDS Day, 24 hours set aside for international awareness and education about HIV and AIDS. Though those auto-immune diseases don’t grab headlines the way they used to, they are no less a problem. Over 33 million people are struggling with AIDS, and over two million die each year from AIDS-related complications. Nearly 75 percent of those deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where economic and social development is constantly crippled by the spread of AIDS.
Medical science continues to make progress in the treatment of AIDS, and though there are expensive drug cocktails that can slow the disease’s development, there remains no real cure or sure-fire treatment. Prevention remains the best vaccination available, which is why today is set aside for education and awareness.
Musicians have long been involved in helping to get people educated, from Bono’s involvement in the (RED) campaign to Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ advocacy of condom use in TLC videos. In 1991, Salt-N-Pepa released their controversial single “Let’s Talk About Sex,” which was a lyrically frank discussion of sexual morays and the dangers of unprotected intercourse. They also released a version called “Let’s Talk About AIDS,” which addressed the disease directly. It’s hard to imagine now, but openly discussing AIDS and the prevention thereof was considered taboo in the early ’90s, back when most people were still unclear as to what it was (the idea apparently being that if everybody just ignored it, then it would go away). Salt-N-Pepa attempted to break down those barriers with a direct message aimed at young people. It looks sort of corny now, but back in ’91 it was sort of revolutionary.