PLANO, Texas — Global AIDS research nonprofit, amfAR, raised more than $11 million in research support at amfAR’s annual Gala Cannes. It was a star-studded event in which a variety of celebrities and donors were on-hand to bid on a number of different items and experiences, ranging from beautiful works of art to luxurious weeklong stays on yachts. This included the sale of 1,500 open editions of a unique non-fungible token (NFT) adaption of a piece by celebrated artist Sacha Jafri, inspired by his visits to different refugee camps around the globe. The digital translation of Jafri’s piece raised more than $800,000 in support of amfAR’s work.
AmfAR’s Work and Research
AmfAR’s work includes HIV and AIDS research initiatives such as financial support for worldwide scientific teams collaborating on strategies for an HIV cure as well as establishing the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research at the University of California San Francisco. The organization also promotes policy and advocacy work that seeks to protect vulnerable and marginalized populations and promote continued support from the United States government in key global HIV and AIDS initiatives.
The nonprofit has also created an initiative called TREAT Asia (Therapeutics, Research, Education and AIDS training in Asia). The initiative promotes a wide variety of programs, including 21 adult clinical sites as well as 20 pediatric clinic sites throughout the region in countries like India, Malaysia and Thailand. The initiative also supports a variety of monetary research awards for those studying HIV and related issues in Asia-Pacific countries.
HIV/AIDS Progress in the Asia-Pacific Region and Worldwide
In recent years, the Asia-Pacific region has made significant progress on HIV/AIDS-related goals. Nonetheless, not every country in the region has seen the same progress. While nations like Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia have experienced more than a 60% drop in HIV infections between 2010 and 2018, for instance, countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan note more than a 50% increase in new HIV infections over the same period. Even more disheartening, the Philippines saw more than a 203% increase in new HIV infections over that time.
Late diagnosis and a lack of awareness of HIV remain barriers for the countries experiencing higher HIV rates in recent years. Just 14% of people living with HIV in Pakistan were aware of their status in comparison to 37% of people living in Bangladesh.
Additionally, while domestic funding has increased for HIV/AIDS-related programs in countries like China, Malaysia and Thailand, global funding and international support decreased by 48% in the region from 2010 through 2018. The United States reduced bilateral funding by 14% during that time and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis experienced a 35% reduction in funding as well.
With some countries lacking progress in HIV/AIDS reduction and recent examples of funding decreases in the region, it is easy to see the importance of efforts like amfAR’s TREAT Asia Initiative. Similarly, the importance of amfAR’s broader work on a global scale is clear as well in light of recent data.
A 2021 global aids update from UNAIDS highlights inequalities in HIV/AIDS measures in different regions around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization found that regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, where 67% of the world’s population living with HIV resides, have lagged behind in HIV screening during the pandemic. “Women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa continue to be at a higher risk of HIV infection, with gender inequality and gender-based violence at the center of that risk,” according to UNAIDS. With significant regional differences still present and a pandemic stressing the global medical system, the importance of amfAR’s HIV and AIDS-related research and advocacy remains evident.
AmfAR’s Annual Gala Cannes
The 27th annual amfAR Gala Cannes was the recent source of a significant amount of funding for important HIV/AIDS work. Hosted by amfAR’s Global Campaign Chair and accomplished actress, Sharon Stone, the event raised more than $11 million for the charity.
With celebrity guests like Spike Lee, Orlando Bloom, Bella Thorne and Regina King in attendance, it was a star-studded event and the auction was headlined by a performance from multi-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys. The event even included a fashion show featuring world-renowned designers like Chanel, Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent as well as top models like Stella Maxwell.
Jafri’s Fundraising Efforts for amFAR
The headline fundraising function, however, was the charity auction. The auction included a variety of artwork and luxury experiences such as Jafri’s aforementioned NFT of “On the Wings of an Angel.” According to Forbes, “in 45 seconds, 1,500 open editions of the painting were bought for €750,000 ($884,760) by U.K. tech entrepreneur Scott Fletcher with the entire amount destined for amfAR’s AIDS research programs.” Jafri’s fundraising efforts did not end there, however. He also created a live painting throughout the night, which eventually sold for $1.1 million.
Jafri’s Inspirational Efforts
Jafri’s contributions to amfAR’s annual Gala Cannes mark just some of the artist’s latest charitable efforts. His past works have helped provided significant donations to organizations like UNICEF, UNESCO and the Global Gift Foundation. Jafri’s utilization of his own talents to benefit people around the world serves as an inspiration for others to find ways to leverage their own unique gifts to help benefit those in need and the groups working to help them.
– Brett Grega