How do celebrities factor into ending HIV/AIDS?

Nicki Minaj and Ricky Martin were on Good Morning America today promoting their partnership with MAC: if you buy Minaj’s lipstick or Martin’s lip conditioner, 100% of the purchase proceeds go to MAC AIDS Fund activities in Latin America. You can see a clip of the interview here.

It’s awesome that two of music’s biggest superstars are working to raise awareness and correct misconceptions about HIV/AIDS, particularly in Latin America, where condom use is not as widespread as it is in the US and many consider it to be a ‘gay’ disease.

“It’s important for people from the islands to understand that it’s not something that should only be discussed in America,” Minaj said. “This is something that is killing a lot of young black women so, for me, that’s why it hits home… This is something that kills everyone.”

We can’t help thinking, though: is raising awareness enough? Minaj herself mentions how young her fan base is – what if this generation grew up using condoms by default? What if by the time Sophia Grace Brownlee and her “hype girl” were ready to make their sexual debut, talking about STD status and getting tested was easy and, dare we say normal to them and other girls their age? Talking about sex education or condom use might not be as sexy as lipstick – in fact, it’s probably a lot harder to do in a way that would resonate with people as much as a chance to look like their favorite celebrity does.

What do you think, Wrap MCs? Can you sell safer sex like you’d sell lipstick? Do celebrity endorsements like this help or hinder your efforts to encourage your students or clients to use condoms when they have sex?

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