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Stars get HIV tests to raise awareness

Regina King, Howard Hesseman and Jimmy Jean-Louis of NBC’s “Heroes” are among a group of performers getting HIV tests next week to raise awareness of the spread of the virus in black communities.They will be screened Monday in front of cameras at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) headquarters in Los Angeles as part of a new campaign called “1 in a Million.” The goal is to motivate 1 million

Regina King, Howard Hesseman and Jimmy Jean-Louis of NBC’s “Heroes” are among a group of performers getting HIV tests next week to raise awareness of the spread of the virus in black communities.

They will be screened Monday in front of cameras at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) headquarters in Los Angeles as part of a new campaign called “1 in a Million.” The goal is to motivate 1 million black Americans to get tested for HIV/AIDS by Dec. 1, 2008.

“Actors are blessed with the gift of voice, and people listen to what they have to say,” SAG president Alan Rosenberg said Friday in a statement. Rosenberg hopes others will take the “message to heart” and follow their lead.

Other celebrity participants include Hill Harper (“CSI: NY”), musical stage star Sheryl Lee Ralph, Gloria Reuben of the HBO movie “Life Support” and former “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star Tatyana Ali.

“AIDS in America today is a black disease,” said Phil Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute. “Nobody wants to talk about that, and nobody wants to own that. That silence is killing us.”

Besides SAG, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Artists for a New South Africa and the Black AIDS Institute are involved in the “1 in a Million” drive.