It has been 30 years since the first federal announcement on AIDS was released. When the first cases were published on June 5, 1981, researchers and physicians were baffled by an outbreak of an unusual and fatal form of pneumonia that they couldn’t explain. Today there are more answers, but there’s still a long way to go in the battle against AIDS: nearly 30 million people have died since the first cases were recognized. Some 34 million people have HIV now, including more than 1 million in the United States. And 2 million people still die of the disease each year, with heavy numbers in poor countries that lack treatment.
To date, the best defense against AIDS is still prevention, although scientists are still working tirelessly to find a cure. Several organizations have stepped up to the plate to raise money for awareness, research and programs aiding people across the world who are living with the disease. See how these initiatives are making a difference.
Founded in 1985, amfAR is dedicated to ending the global AIDS epidemic through innovative research. Entertainers and designers routinely flock to the organization’s various annual galas and otherwise lend support, which has helped amfAR invest nearly $325 million in its mission and award grants to more than 2,000 research teams since its beginnings. This month (June 14) amfAR will pay tribute to designer Michael Kors and actor James Franco at its second annual Inspiration Gala in New York. A fashion show featuring pieces donated by designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Giorgio Armani will be the entertainment, along with special performances by Liza Minelli and Jennifer Hudson.
Designers Against AIDS
Launched by non-profit organization “Beauty Without Irony” in 2004, Designers Against AIDS (DAA) uses pop culture elements to raise AIDS awareness in the media and specifically towards young people. This year the organization teamed up with H&M to create a collection called Fashion for AIDS (available in H&M stores and online). Keri Hilson and Akon were among celebrities who modeled the sporty unisex pieces, and 25% of the sales of the collection went to DAA and various other international HIV/AIDS prevention projects.
MAC Cosmetics’ Viva Glam Campaign
Lady Gaga is currently the spokeswoman for MAC’s Viva Glam Campaign, which previously featured other entertainers including Missy Elliot, Mary J. Blige, Lil Kim and RuPaul. The company creates an annual “Viva Glam” lipglass and lipgloss and puts every cent of the sales of the special edition makeup into MAC AIDS. Since its founding in 1984, MAC AIDS fund has raised more than $218 million that it uses to support organizations around the world that are providing vital service for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Bobby Shriver and artist Bono created (RED) to engage the private sector in the fight against AIDS in Africa. The company has a number of partners—including Emporio Armani, Gap and Nike—that make specialized Red items and at no cost to the consumer, a portion of the profits is sent directly to the organization’s Global Fund where money is ultimately dispersed to programs in Africa with a focus on woman and children.
(Photos from left: Christopher Polk/Getty Images, Ian Gavan/Getty Images, Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)