Memphis HIV / AIDS nonprofit gets a boost from Lil Nas X – Tennessee Lookout

Representatives of the Memphis-based non-profit Relationship Unleashed (RUNL) announced on Friday that the group had been selected for rapper and singer-songwriter Lil Nas X’s “baby register” to celebrate the release. of his new record.

Montero is the artist’s first full album; It is carried a pregnancy belly and called the new album her “baby”. Lil Nas is asking fans to donate to groups like RUNL, an LGBTQ + and HIV / AIDS rights organization, with their ledger.

RUNL joins 13 Gilead’s Compass Initiative organizations to be included in the registry, all of which focus on reducing HIV / AIDS and stigma in the South. Each organization is associated with a song on the album, and RUNL is associated with the song “Scoop”, which stars rapper and songwriter Doja Cat. RUNL CEO Gwendolyn Clemons said the group’s website has seen a significant increase in global traffic since the announcement and hopes the attention will translate into financial support so the group can hire new people in his team, which currently includes two full-time and two part-time. employees on time.

Clemons started RUNL Seven years ago, after seeing large organizations raise millions of dollars in funding but deliver little for the black community in Memphis, she says they funded many projects out of pocket. The organization has a radio show, church, The Unleashed Voice Magazine, and educates Memphis residents about HIV / AIDS and advocates for the LGBTQ community.

Clemons says that GILEAD is donating up to $ 25,000 and that she hopes to achieve her goal so that RUNL can grow. His son, Davin Clemons, D. Min, joins his mother as pastor and co-founder of Relationship Unleashed and says they are grateful for the opportunity to join the registry.

“A lot of small local organizations never get the chance, and we’ve had the opportunity,” says Davin Clemons.

gILEAD reports that there are 433,816 people living with HIV / AIDS in the South. Lil Nas X also introduced Mardrequs Harris of the Southern AIDS Coalition, a COMPASS focal point, during his performance at the MTV VMAs last Sunday night; Harris wore the number 433,816 on his outfit, which was adorned in red.

Memphis consistently ranks in the top ten cities in the country with the most new HIV / AIDS infections and includes the poorest zip codes in the state of Tennessee. Gwendolyn Clemons says that for every 100,000 people in Memphis, 690 live with the sexually transmitted disease, and the Southern AIDS Coalition reports that the Deep South had the highest HIV diagnosis rates and the number of people diagnosed of any region in the United States.

Gwendolyn and Davin claim that the increased infection rates in Memphis are due to poverty, lack of sex education and racial injustice in black communities. They say Black Americans account for more HIV diagnoses and people living with HIV than any other group in the United States, and black Americans are vulnerable to HIV due to structural barriers steeped in racist and anti-black policies. According to a press release from RUNL, the three groups most affected by HIV are black gay men, black cisgender women and transgender women of color.

“[Trans women] resorting to sex work or survival work, ”explains Gwendolyn Clemons. “[They’re] more sensitive.

CDC reports that of the 1.2 million people living with HIV / AIDS in the United States, approximately 161,800 do not know their status. The agency also recommends that anyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. People living with HIV / AIDS can receive treatment and live long, healthy lives, according to the CDC, and if taken as prescribed, anti-HIV drugs lower the viral load in the body to a very low level. low. This means that with appropriate treatment and prevention, people living with HIV can reduce risk of transmission to zero.

Gwendolyn Clemons says RUNL will use the increased funding not only to hire new staff, but also to replenish its emergency fund for community care: they donated nearly $ 20,000 during the pandemic lockdown to support people who struggled to pay their bills. All donations to RUN are tax deductible, and she said it makes sense for a major artist to give back in this way.

“Without fans and support, he wouldn’t be where he is. Without donations, we can’t do this job,” says Gwendolyn Clemons. “We wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have this type of exposure. without this connection. “

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