Devin T. Robinson X, a 22-year-old Florida native, relies on unusual means to reach at-risk youths, particularly young people of color, with HIV prevention messages: poetry and performance art. He's the founder of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.'based AIDS Awareness Poets, a group of young people who use a combination of traditional prevention techniques, like condom giveaways and street-level outreach, and performance art to educate their peers about HIV and to promote safer sex.
Robinson, who is HIV-negative but lost an aunt to AIDS, says he was inspired to adopt his distinctive approach to HIV prevention after attending an HIV educational session that he felt failed to resonate with younger people: 'My generation is catching the virus faster than the rise of gas prices. I wanted to make sure that I helped save my generation.'
To that end Robinson has performed all or part of his original one-man theatrical show God Did Not Give Me HIV more than 400 times over the past year at public and private middle and high schools, colleges, community organizations, hospitals, and churches across the country. The piece consists of a series of three- to five-minute monologues in which different characters address a host of HIV-related issues, sometimes with shocking and tragic imagery. What the vignettes do not include, however, are lectures about condom use and abstinence. Robinson says he prefers to inspire the audience members to make those choices on their own.
Find the AIDS Awareness Poets and Robinson's work online at www.robinsonx.com.