In 1981 a disease no one had even heard of was first recognized, it was named AIDS. Thirty years later statistics now report a whopping seventy million people are infected by the virus. The theme of this year’s World Aids Day is ‘Getting To Zero’ focusing on: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths. Today on World AIDS Day we take a look at a few celebrities who took advantage of their stardom to help spread awareness and raise funds towards fighting this disease.
One of Bono’s many humanitarian efforts has been raising awareness about AIDS particularly in Africa where he set up the organization DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa). He also founded the extremely successful ONE Campaign which aims as increasing government funding for various international aid programs including AIDS. He also founded Product Red with Bobby Shriver which aims at raising money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
At a time when there was no clarity on what AIDS was all about Elizabeth Taylor was one of the first celebrities to come forth and raise money towards research. She helped raise over $270 million throughout the years and founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) in 1993 which provided support services to those suffering from AIDS.
NBA star Magic Johnson was at the peak of his basketball career when he announced his retirement from the game after he was diagnosed HIV positive. He has since dedicated his life towards AIDS awareness and raising funds for research of the cause through the Magic Johnson Foundation. He has served as UN Messenger of peace, was the main speaker for the UN World Aids conference in 1999 and joined the National Commission of Aids for a short period.
After the death of his friends Freddie Mercury & Ryan White, Elton John began associating with charities dedicated to AIDS awareness until he founded his own organization the Elton John AIDS Foundation. He founded the charity not only to support those who were suffering from the disease but also to eliminate the prejudice against them. Every year John hosts a ‘White Tie & Tiara Ball’ to raise money for the organization, in 2007 he raised £3.5 million in one night!
Alicia Keys co-founded the organization Keep a Child Alive which provides medicine to families with HIV/AIDS. In honour of World AIDS day in 2005 she collaborated with Bono to sing a cover of the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush song Don’t Give Up.
Of course celebrities aren’t the only ones doing their bit to work against AIDS, millions of people worldwide dedicate their time and energy towards the cause. Share your thoughts on how you believe we can fight AIDS.