Gala Benefits AIDSOne of New York’s most prominent events in support of AIDS research is the annual amFAR Gala, which will take place this year on Feb. 8. Included in the star-studded guest list are Donatella Versace, Scarlett Johansson, Woody Allen, Heidi Klum and Lady Gaga. Lena Dunham, popularly known for her role in the HBO drama series, Girls, will host the event.

Since the American Foundation for AIDS Research’s first event in 1998, the annual amFAR Gala has collected more than $17 million in donations. With tickets starting at $1,750 and ending at $75,000, the black-tie event will include cocktails, dinner, a live auction and a special performance by Ellie Goulding. The gala serves to highlight the progress made in HIV/AIDS awareness and research. The event honors and recognizes those that have joined the fight against HIV/AIDS by donating.

Globally, 36.7 million people are affected by HIV/AIDS — 1.8 million of those being children who have most commonly inherited the disease during pregnancy or through breastfeeding. A majority of those infected live in poverty-stricken countries in the Asia-Pacific region and sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 60 percent of the world’s population and has the highest rate of HIV infection. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than 25.6 million people living with HIV.

Because of advancements in AIDS research funding by organizations such as amFAR, 18.2 million people infected with the disease are able to receive treatment. AmFAR’s funding has led to the implementation of numerous programs worldwide that are used to both encourage and distribute treatment. Specifically, amFAR has been a source of international support through various programs. These programs include the TREAT program in Asia which focuses on building clinics and educations centers that provide treatment and prevention education. Nepal has received amFAR’s assistance through the creation of educational programs for HIV. Studies carried out by amFAR in Kenya have further revealed modes of disease transmission.

Since its founding in 1985, amFAR has invested more than $450 million toward AIDS research, which has led to the creation of numerous programs and developments in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. It is because of these advancements that the celebrity community can come together at New York’s 18th annual amFAR Gala this February to honor the progress accomplished by contributing individuals.

Amy Williams

Photo: Flickr

The inaugural Inspiration Gala Rio de Janeiro held this month raised more than $600,000 for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.  The gala is part of the Inspiration series, which has held multiple other galas in New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, and Miami.  This year saw the addition of Rio and Toronto to the list of worldwide locations.

“The Inspiration Gala Series: A Celebration of Style” was launched in 2010 by amfAR and Josh Wood Productions, as a worldwide fundraising event to benefit amfAR.  To date the Inspiration series has raised more than $10 million for AIDS research. The $2,500-a-plate Rio black-tie gala was hosted by supermodel Linda Evangelista and included performances by Preta Gil and Ana Carolina. Academy Award winning actress Goldie Hawn and Fashion Designer and amfAR Chairman Kenneth Cole also served as Honorary Chairs. A portion of the proceeds from the benefit will specifically benefit a local Brazilian organization called Pela Vidda, which is dedicated to improving the lives of those with HIV/AIDS.

A live auction of exclusive luxury items was held during the benefit, including tickets to the French Open semifinals, a stay at the Chateau de Saran owned by the Moet & Chandon champagne family, and a Linda Evangelista autographed gold-leaf covered Moet & Chandon Imperial Jeroboam (which sold for $30,000). The exact amount raised was not announced, but local news reports estimated around $1 million. AmfAR fundraising events are lavish affairs that have raised over $350 million in the past 25 years.  A wide range of events is held, including cocktail receptions, store openings, art auctions, and international galas.  Their annual dinner during the Cannes Film Festival has come to be known as the Who’s Who of the movie industry. The millions of dollars that amfAR has invested in HIV/AIDS research has led to pioneering research and development of new treatments, preventative medicines and vaccines, and has also played a role in clinical studies and securing passage of key legislation.

The latest global statistics indicate that 33.4 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS, 97% of which reside in low-income countries.  While most people living with HIV/AIDS still do not have proper access to prevention, care, or treatment, there have been successes in terms of a global effort to address the epidemic. The United States government has also taken on this cause in the form of research and development, technical assistance and financial support.  Among the largest commitments by any nation to combat a single disease internationally is the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  PEPFAR is the largest component of the U.S. Global Health Initiative, which focuses on improving the health of women, newborns and children.

– Rifk Ebeid

Sources: AMFAR, JoshWood, BigStory, AIDS
Photo: My Daily