It's a Friday night, right about that time when many men and women are headed to their favorite local bars for happy hour or to clubs to kick off the weekend.
In her studio apartment in Chicago, Rae Lewis-Thornton curls up with a cup of Earl Grey tea, pulls out her iPhone and goes to work.
"Don't (fool) around 2nite and get AIDS," she posts to her Twitter account.
"The (guys) look real good at the bar. I wonder how many of them have AIDS," she tweets later.
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From the time she was diagnosed with HIV in 1986, Lewis-Thornton has made it her life's mission to spread HIV/AIDS awareness.
She has toured the country speaking at high schools and colleges, has written first-person columns and magazine articles, and has produced television segments on the topic. She gained national popularity when she appeared on the cover of Essence magazine and is widely regarded as the first black woman to publicly tell her cautionary story.
Now, Lewis-Thornton is using social media to educate about safe sex and give people a day-by-day, moment-by- moment journal of what it's like to live with AIDS. Hour by hour, she updates her profile, offering encouragement, blunt warnings and sometimes just venting about her ailments.
She is upfront about how she contracted AIDS — through unprotected sex. And she hopes that by taking responsibility, she will save the lives of others.
"It took everything I had to start this day," she tweets.
"HIV ain't no joke."
Lewis-Thornton was reluctant at first to join social media, thinking her message would not translate to Twitter's concise format. She soon changed her mind.
Using Twitter to spread a message is nothing new. But Thornton-Lewis' crusade is unique because not only is she trying to heighten awareness, she's chronicling her life with the disease, said Booker Daniels, a spokesman with the Centers for Disease Control's division of HIV/AIDS prevention.
"She is a face on a condition that has recently gone largely faceless," Daniels said. "We are inspired by her work and her ability to engage people in a real, candid, forthright, accurate and insightful manner."
On Twitter, Lewis-Thornton is able to speak to hundreds of people where they are. Whenever they pick up their phones, unfold their laptops, check their Twitter feed, they can hear her.
"She's reaching that generation that is not going to sit and read a brochure," said Johnathon Briggs, a spokesman for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. "Her tweets could save somebody's life."
Lewis-Thornton's campaign comes at a crucial time. According to the CDC, blacks account for about 13 percent of the U.S. population, but 49 percent of people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in this country are African-American. HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for black people in the United States, the CDC said.
At the same time, according to a report released in April by Edison Research and Arbitron, 24 percent of the 17 million Americans posting on Twitter are African-American.
That's what took Lewis-Thornton to social networking. For years, she was able to earn a living from public speaking engagements and writing assignments. But as HIV/AIDS became a less sexy topic in the past decade, the speaking engagements became fewer, she said. Then a book deal fell through.
In January, she started tweeting. She has about 1,870 followers — more than some national organizations — and has posted more than 20,000 tweets.
"I call this hard-core activism," she said. "I'm reminding you on a daily basis that AIDS is real. If you have AIDS, you can live with it; I'm an example of that. I want you to see the life — the good, the bad and the ugly.
"You haven't thought about HIV since you read that article 10 years ago," she said. "Now I'm keeping it in your face."
Every day hundreds of "followers" respond to her publicly, offering prayers, encouragement or just makeup and fashion trends.
She also gets dozens of private messages, she said. One woman told Lewis-Thornton the tweets gave her the courage to tell her boyfriend to wear a condom. Another told her that the tweets persuaded her to get tested.
"I ... found a new way to reach people," Lewis- Thornton said. "I will do this work until the day I die."