It Takes a Village to Stop HIV
BY Advocate Contributors
December 01 2011 5:00 AM ET
Africa’s Leila Lopes, recently crowned Miss Universe 2011, is a British-educated 25-year-old Angola native who says she cherishes inner strength over outer beauty. Hailing from the town of Benguela, Lopes is first woman from Angola — and only the fourth black woman — to be crowned Miss Universe. After winning the pageant, held in Brazil in September, the outspoken Lopes slammed racism and plastic surgery, telling reporters, “Any racist needs to seek help. It’s not normal in the 21st century to think in that way.”
She also pledged to expand her philanthropic missions — especially her involvement with HIV prevention, treatment, and visibility.
“I’ve worked with various social causes. I work with poor kids, I work in the fight against HIV,” she said to reporters after the competition. “I think now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more.” Angola, specifically, needs Lopes’s help—the recently war-torn nation is very poor and antiretroviral medications are hard to come by for many.
Lopes told Time magazine she was up to the challenge: “I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.”