The AIDS Crisis isn’t a term that often pops up in the mainstream media these days, as much headway has been made in the fight against the disease. Whereas in the 1980s a diagnosis equated a death sentence, in modern times symptoms can be managed with medication, and education has helped slow the spread. Yet there are still an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States living with HIV, and approximately 15 percent of those don’t know they’re infected.
In 1983, Mathilde Krim, Ph.D., then a researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and a pioneer in the study of HIV/AIDS, joined together a group of associates to create the AIDS Medical Foundation to help raise private funds for research; two years later, the organization joined with the National AIDS Research Foundation to found amfAR. Since then, amfAR has provided more than $517 million to programs that provide education, research, HIV prevention and advocacy.
“I first become involved with amfAR around 11 years ago when I went to one of their fundraising events in New York, and I was so moved by the experience that very soon after I reached out to them to ask how I could be of service,” says American Horror Story actor Cheyenne Jackson, who has in the past sung at events, helped procure auction items and also helped with fundraising. “An ex of mine was diagnosed with HIV, and it was the first time someone close to me was affected. I felt compelled to see what more I could do. amfAR has been at the forefront since the beginning, and their focus on the science and research was very interesting.”
A leading fundraiser for the organization is black-tie gala events, held throughout the year in Milan, Cannes, São Paulo, Hong Kong and New York; on October 18, the organization will hold the amfAR Gala Los Angeles. The event always draws a crowd of A-list stars; past attendees have included Tom Hanks, Kate Hudson, Angela Bassett, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Justin Timberlake, to name just a few.
“amfAR has the reputation and the track record, and their heart is always in the right place,” says Jackson of the organization. “I’m so proud to be a part of this world-changing group of people.”
Visit amfar.org for tickets to the October 18 gala in Los Angeles, to make a donation, or learn more about the organization.