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amfAR Launches Online Video Series Focused on How a Cure Would Impact the Lives of People Living with HIV
“Epic Voices” shares the inspirational and personal stories of people living with HIV
NEW YORK, June 21, 2017 – “HIV is no longer a death sentence; HIV is a life sentence, because I’m going to forever be taking medicine, going to the doctor, fighting for insurance…those things are with me for the rest of my life,” says Hydeia Broadbent in a new video released this week by amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, in conjunction with LGBT Pride Month.
Broadbent, a 32-year old HIV/AIDS activist based in Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the people featured in a video series called “Epic Voices.” The series debuts with the personal – and often inspirational − insights of Broadbent and four others who reveal how HIV has affected their lives, and what a cure for HIV would mean for them. Additional video profiles will be added in the coming months.
The videos aim to raise awareness of the challenges to ending HIV that still remain, and inspire action among Millennials and LGBTQ communities to support HIV/AIDS research and amfAR’s mission to find a cure. The five “Epic Voices” are:
- Hydeia Broadbent, HIV/AIDS activist born with HIV
- Ongina (Ryan Palao), television personality who came out as HIV-positive on RuPaul’s Drag Race
- Teo Drake, trans man and long-term HIV survivor
- Ken Williams, public speaker and founder of video blog, “Ken Like Barbie”
- Mykki Blanco, rapper and performer
The videos are available for viewing at http://www.curecountdown.org/epicvoices.
Rallying the Young LGBTQ Community
The LGBTQ community defined and led the response to HIV/AIDS in the early days of the epidemic. The subsequent availability of treatments that can keep the virus at bay for years has greatly diminished the perception that HIV is a serious health concern, and has led to widespread complacency. Yet treatment remains challenging – less than a third of people living with HIV are virally suppressed – and HIV-related stigma is still widespread.
“We want to reenergize the LGBTQ community – especially the younger generation – and engage them in pursuing with us the opportunity to finally end the epidemic through the development of a cure,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “By showing how HIV is viewed through the unique lens of each remarkable individual in this series, we hope we can inspire action, dispel stigma, and perhaps change the way HIV is viewed and talked about today.”
While life expectancy for people with HIV has increased in recent years due to antiretroviral treatment, a cure could ultimately free individuals with HIV like Broadbent from a lifetime of treatment. “I’m ready for a cure, I’m ready to stop taking pills,” she added.
For the rapper Mykki Blanco, who in 2015 publicly announced on Facebook that he's been HIV positive since 2011, a cure would mean the “end of stigma,” and for Ongina, who disclosed his HIV status during an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a cure would mean “freedom.” For Drake, a trans male and long-term HIV survivor who has been living with HIV for over 20 years, a cure would mean “that those of us who have HIV already wouldn’t be forgotten.”
For Williams, who documents his life experiences as a gay black man through his video blog “Ken Like Barbie,” a cure is the next step: “I’m excited for what the future of HIV looks like, and I’m hoping it will be a future that I’m able to see…because I want to be there to celebrate with everybody else.”
In 2014, amfAR launched the “Countdown to a Cure for AIDS,” a research initiative aimed at developing the scientific basis for a cure by 2020. The Countdown is designed to intensify amfAR’s cure-focused research program through strategic investments of $100 million over the next few years.
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and advocacy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested more than $480 million in its programs and has awarded more than 3,300 grants to research teams worldwide.
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