Alicia Keys attends the Harlem School of the Arts 50th anniversary kickoff at the Plaza hotel Oct. 5, 2015, in New York City.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

There isn't a cure for AIDS or HIV, but there is medicine that slows down the virus and allows people who have the disease to lead fairly healthy (and long) lives. 

When Alicia Keys found out that many women in South Africa didn't have enough money to access HIV medicine, she told People magazine that she embarked on a crusade to change that.

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"I visited clinics [in South Africa] where women were either pregnant or had just given birth to babies with HIV or AIDS. At the time, a lot of women didn't realize that if you are positive and you breast-feed your baby, your baby will contract it," Keys explained.

"The moms just wanted medicine to keep them alive. That was the first time as a 20-year-old that I was aware of the injustice. I thought, 'How can something be available, but you can't have it because you're poor?' I just felt like that was a death sentence. That's what outraged me and motivated me. When I came back, I was never the same," Keys said. 

The singer founded her Keep a Child Alive foundation shortly thereafter to raise money for these kinds of initiatives. 

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"I could never imagine if my kids were sick and I couldn't get them medicine that could make them better. Or if I was sick and they had to watch their mother die because we couldn't get access to something that exists. I couldn't even imagine that pain," she said.

"I've always felt the empathy and I've always felt outraged about it, but now that I have kids of my own, you just feel the devastation of it. That's why it's so important for us to press forward and talk about how important it is for people to have access to the [antiretroviral] medicines that will keep them alive. Because it changes the community, the household—it changes everything. And it's available, it's possible," she maintained.

Keys explained how she hopes that through education, initiative and philanthropy, mankind will eradicate AIDS in her lifetime. "My dream—the dream we all have—is to know we have created an AIDS-free generation. And we can do that. I hope that people who read this will be inspired to join us, learn more and be part of the end."

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Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.

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