Though he is best known as the “dread locked, rapping guy” on MTV’s The Real World III San Francisco, Mohammed Bilal is now known as a diversity consultant, musician, poet, and writer who educates audiences about today’s social problems. Since being on “The Real World,” Bilal’s life had changed dramatically. He was able to look outside of himself away from superficial aspects television dwells on and able to ask “What am I contributing with my fame?” Bilal’s presentation LoveLife: The Disempowerment of AIDS brought information to campus every person should know.
In bringing his Tuesday, October 15 presentation to Illinois State University, Bilal hoped to leave a message that would touch the audience. “I hope my presentation makes at least one person think about protecting themselves, find solutions in the things we have control over, and to decide to be more honest with the situation,” said Bilal, “Having HIV can open up lots of communication with others, but does not have to be the only reason.” Bilal also expressed the importance of pursuing one’s dreams and how he pursues his dreams now, rather than how he did when he was younger. “I now go about pursuing my dream with action. When I was younger I did not do as much planning, but now, as I dream I plan,” said Bilal.
“One in every two hundred people has HIV. Of that population, one in five people do not even know they have it, which is why it is so important for students to get tested” said Bilal. With 1.1 million people living with HIV, it is important to know the signs. “The first sign is called acute retroviral symptom (ARS), which feels like the worst flu you have ever had. It can land you on your back with extreme cold symptoms,” said Bilal.
If you or someone you know thinks they may have come in contact with a partner who is HIV positive, there are resources out there to help. There are now home tests that can give you accurate results with a swab of the cheek. If you are an ISU student, Student Health Services can run the test and help you decide your options. For more information about symptoms and options available visit www.aids.gov, and make it a point to get yourself checked. In this case, knowledge really is power and could save your life if detected early enough to still manage.