May 24, 2010
Posted: 03:18 PM ET
Editors note: Model & actress Iman spoke to the Larry King Live blog about her support of “The Lazarus Effect” campaign and documentary. More than 20 million people have died of HIV/AIDS in Africa, despite the fact it is now a preventable and treatable disease. “The Lazarus Effect” campaign features dozens of celebrity artists helping to raise awareness of the value of 40 cents – the cost of antiretroviral medicine needed for people with HIV/AIDS in Africa to survive – by comparing trivial items worth the same amount (a stick of gum, a smear of lipstick, etc). For a preview of "The Lazarus Effect" documentary, click here
THE LAZARUS EFFECT is a beautiful film by (RED), directed by Lance Bangs, executive produced by Spike Jonze, that illustrates the incredible transformative effect of ARV (antiretroviral) medicine on people living with HIV in Africa.
Just eight years ago, this medicine, that was broadly available in the west, cost over $10,000 a year and was out of reach of most people in Africa who make less than $2 a day. Today, ARVs – two pills a day - cost just 40 cents and can bring someone from near death to health in as little as 40 days.
This life-restoring medicine is provided through organizations like the Global Fund and PEPFAR to more than 3 million people across Africa today. The film shows the incredible human impact of this investment - just 40 cents to bring someone back from death’s door – it’s incredible.
The PSA campaign I’m involved in for (RED) is designed to help raise awareness of this film and get as many people as possible to tune in and take action. We want people to watch the film on HBO on May 24th or catch it on YouTube.com starting that same day at 9:30 PM EST.
Some 20 million people have died of AIDS in Africa since 1981…and 67 percent of all people living with HIV worldwide are in Sub-Sarahan Africa. It’s the leading cause of death in that part of the world. Why have they been hit so hard?
ARV treatment was available much later in Africa than it was in the rest of the world. It was just a few years ago that the Global Fund and PEPFAR began to make ARV treatment available to millions who needed it. Before this time, few people would get tested for HIV because it was simply a death sentence. They could not afford the medicine the needed to stay alive. Today, increased access to ARV medicine brings people into the clinics, they can get tested – know their status – and either take the measures necessary to stay healthy if they are positive or make educated decisions to stay negative.
A lot has obviously changed in the past 5 to 10 years – it now only costs 40 cents a day for the necessary antiretroviral (ARV) medication to keep a person with HIV alive in Africa. How far has the world come in helping and treating those with HIV in Africa?
There has been incredible progress in treatment over the past ten years. Just eight years ago, when this treatment cost as much as $15,000 a year, there were only 50,000 people on the continent who were on treatment. Today, thanks to the efforts to bring that cost down and to organizations like the Global Fund, PEPFAR and (RED), to help fund this medicine there are now more than three million people on treatment.
Still, there are millions more who need access and there are still 3,800 people who die a day from this preventable, treatable disease. So, while we have made great progress, there is still much more to be done and we need to continue our commitment and our fight to ensure the momentum doesn’t wane.
How and why did you become involved with The Lazarus Campaign?
I am African. I have seen first hand the devastation of AIDS on families and communities across the continent.
THE LAZARUS EFFECT shows the human side of what smart, targeted aid can achieve and how it can help people get back on their feet, take care of themselves and their families and contribute to their communities.
What do you want people to take away from the HBO film “The Lazarus Effect” and from the campaign?
That smart, targeted aid works. It is because governments, business, individuals around the world have stepped up and made financing commitments to fund medicine – that costs just 40 cents a day! – that there are now 3 million people alive who would have otherwise died from a preventable, treatable disease. We’ve reduced the number of people dying a day from over 6,000 to 3,800. This means millions more mothers and fathers alive to take care of their children and many more people alive to work and build successful economies and communities.
I want people to take action to ensure that this success continues. Get involved politically at http://www.one.org/. Make smart shopping choices and learn more about the Lazarus Effect at http://www.joinred.com/.
You’ve been working for years to help people with HIV in Africa. How hopeful are you that there will be a day when this is no longer the issue that it is right now?
I am very hopeful that one day we will eliminate AIDS in Africa. I would love to not have to talk about this and for all of the organizations focused on it to be obsolete. But, in order to make that happen, we have to continue and increase our commitment. Now is the time. We’ve seen what incredible progress can be made if there is strong commitment and investment – we have to stay focused and build on that success if we are truly going to eliminate this devastating disease.
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