Dionne Warwick Crusades Against HIV

By: Rick Andreoli

"Almost 30 years have passed since Dionne Warwick and friends Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder recorded their smash-hit charity single, 'That’s What Friends Are For,'" writers author Julie Bolcer in the latest issue of HIV Plus magazine. "The song generated over $3 million for the American Foundation for AIDS Research and heralded a new era of celebrity-driven fundraising and activism."

But that wasn't the end of the story. Warwick has been a nonstop supporter of HIV/AIDS research, education and prevention campaigns, lending her name and voice to raise awareness wherever she goes. Now with the rates of HIV infection in some American cities rivaling those in sub-Saharan Africa, and with young African-Americans being hit particularly hard (according to the latest statistics for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Warwick has turned her attention to places like Harlem. She recently organized a town hall with Harlem United Community AIDS Center. Panelists included Warwick, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph—a member of the original Broadway cast of Dreamgirls and founder of an HIV-charity called The DIVA Foundation—and Rae Lewis Thornton, the first African-American woman to tell her story of living with AIDS to a major publication, Essence, in 1994. The event drew nearly 200 audience members, most of them African-American, and attendees got to ask questions and hear perspectives from leaders in the health, policy, advocacy, and religious communities.

Check out this video interview with Warwick, then read the inspiring interview on HIV Plus.