WATCH: Hairdressers Against AIDS Spreads the Word to Youths

Passing wisdom onto the younger generation: That’s the goal Hairdressers Against AIDS is adopting for World AIDS Day 2011. At a press conference held at Hair On Madison in East Harlem, New York, today, beauty professionals and community leaders gathered to talk about Hairdressers Against AIDS’ goal to engage cosmetology students to spread the word about HIV/AIDS education and prevention. “We’re out today in countless schools across the nation, as well as volunteering in salons. We’re trying to reach the young stylist who may not even be familiar with what HIV/AIDS is,” says Veronique Morrison, MIZANI director of education.

Agrees celebrity stylist Kimmi Hendrix, “The message will keep growing when you pass it on to the youth; it won’t stop and die here.” For Hendrix, joining the Hairdressers Against AIDS cause is personal. “I lost a client and a colleague to AIDS, and I just found out last night that a close friend has HIV,” she shares. “I was more than zealous to join this movement because of how this disease has affected me on a personal level.”

Hendrix notes that her intimate connection with her clients—a connection that so many hairstylists have, and a connection that the Hairdressers Against AIDS advocacy initiative is based upon—allows her to be frank with them about the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. But if stylists need a way to ease into the conversation, she gives this advice: “It’s always easy to talk about health in general, and then quote a statistic that reflects the community that the client is from. My clients are always surprised to hear that 1.2 million Americans are living with the disease today.”

Morrison, who has implemented the Hairdressers Against AIDS outreach into the MIZANI brand education classes, says that sharing statistical data is key. “Once they hear that 46% of new HIV/AIDS cases are African American women, they’re shocked, and they want to hear more,” she says.

And hear more, they will. Hairdressers Against AIDS’ plan to spread the word doesn’t stop with World AIDS Day 2011; the movement is a constant one that will steadily empower stylists to educate their clients on this horrible epidemic. “People talk to their hairdressers about things they won’t tell anybody else about,” says NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “Hairstylists are reaching diverse communities in a personal way—in a way a TV commercial can’t do. You can’t simply turn off a stylist like you can a TV. Trust me: I had roots last week and my hairstylist texted me a picture of them! Hairstylists are in your life, and that’s a good thing, and this is what is going to help us get this message across.” —Karie L. Frost

Watch NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn speak about the importance of Hairdressers Against AIDS!

On the West Coast, a sister event was held in Inglewood, California. Hear stylist Michelle McFadden speak about Hairdressers Against AIDS:

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