FAIRFAX, Virginia — Since 1988, the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) organization has utilized the talent of the theatre community in America to raise over $300 million to support individuals who have HIV and AIDS in Puerto Rico and Africa. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the human immune system and can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if left untreated. It is possible for HIV to be controlled with proper medical care, but HIV has no concrete cure.
Educating Broadway Audiences
After the bows at almost every Broadway show in New York City, a chosen actor gives a small briefing about the BC/EFA organization to the audience and announces that actors from the show are waiting in the lobby with the organization’s signature orange buckets to collect donations for the organization. Actors also sign playbills from the show to give to those who donate a certain amount of money to the organization, and sometimes actors even offer to take pictures with those individuals.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Organization Goals
Not only does the BC/EFA organization assist those with HIV/AIDS in the United States, but they also have a strong focus on improving the lives of those with HIV/AIDS internationally in Puerto Rico and Africa.
The BC/EFA organization strives to deploy the talent of the theatre industry to eliminate the challenging lifestyle that those with HIV/AIDS are forced to tolerate every day. To achieve their goal, the organization monetarily aids organizations that yield services and treatment for those with HIV/AIDS, such as the HIV/AIDS initiative which supports those living with the condition in Rwanda, Africa. The BC/EFA also works to motivate the public to support international organizations that assist those with HIV/AIDS.
In order to fully accomplish all of its goals, the BC/EFA organization is required to raise every penny of its philanthropy budget. The organization donates every cent to services and other organizations that assist those with HIV/AIDS to ensure that the funds have as much positive impact as possible.
For instance, in 2020, the BC/EFA organization raised over $18 million and donated every dollar to HIV/AIDS organizations. BC/EFA donated about $400,000 to South African organizations that fight to improve AIDS patients’ living conditions and $1 million to organizations such as the HIV/AIDS initiative. In the past year, the organization has donated approximately $7 million to organizations that fight for those with HIV/AIDS and to COVID-19 relief.
AIDS and Poverty
According to the American Psychological Association, lifestyles associated with a lower socioeconomic class are linked with unsafe health practices, such as substance abuse. In turn, this decreases contraception use. Additionally, those living in poverty may be more inclined to exchange sexual favors for money and other necessities which can increase the risk of contracting HIV. Urban areas with high levels of poverty have higher HIV contraction rates since more unemployed individuals live there, more vacant buildings exist and crime rates are high, which are all factors that are associated with an increase in HIV risk levels.
The HIV status of an individual can also impact their socioeconomic class. HIV causes mental and physical functioning issues that can impair one’s ability to maintain a job and therefore earn an income. Approximately 45% to 65% of those living with HIV/AIDS are unemployed.
Poverty rates can have an effect on HIV development rates and vice versa, but the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS organization is striving to put an end to this trend. Through using American actors’ talents, the organization is raising funds to provide meals, support, financial assistance, counseling, healthcare and medications to those living with HIV and AIDS in Puerto Rico and Africa. With America’s love of live theatre, the organization is “turning love into money, and money into love” for those suffering from HIV and AIDS globally.
– Lauren Spiers