"Lil Nas X delivered a powerful performance at the VMAs and shined a spotlight on the stigma that fuels HIV, especially across the South," GLAAD wrote to Twitter following the performance. The young artist is from Georgia, which sits squarely in The South. "Mardrequs Harris from Southern AIDS Coalitioin wore the number 433,816 in red, representing the number of people living with HIV in the U.S. South."
\u201c.@LilNasX delivered a powerful performance at the #VMAs and shined a spotlight on the stigma that fuels HIV, especially across the South. Mardrequs Harris from @SouthernAIDSCo wore the number 433,816 in red, representing the the number of people living with HIV in the U.S. South\u201d
HIV rates and stigma continue to plague the U.S. South. Stigma has been proven to keep people from getting tested, and from seeking care which leads to more spreading of the virus. 433,816 represented the number of people living with HIV in the U.S. South as of 2015, which has continued to increase.
"This experience was surreal!" Harris said in a release. "Having the opportunity to share the stage with Lil Nas X was something I never would have imagined. And to have him use his platform to raise awareness about HIV stigma is invaluable to the work."
But Nas X did more than bring this number to the stage for visibility. The star also has been hosting a "baby registry." Crafted to go alongside his "album pregnancy" stunt, the registry is actually a listing of charities that fans can donate to. All 13 listed are a part of the Gilead COMPASS Initiative, aimed to reduce HIV-related health disparities, build awareness, advance education, and reduce stigma.
\u201cmy jaw? on the FLOOR. \n\n@LilNasX just KILLED it with @JackHarlow \ud83d\udd25 #VMAs\u201d
— Video Music Awards (@Video Music Awards)