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May 24, 2010

Iman: I am hopeful that one day we will eliminate AIDS in Africa

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

What is “The Lazarus Effect” – tell us about the documentary and (RED) campaign?

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.

Filed under: Africa • LKL Web Exclusive


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JIM CARROLL   May 24th, 2010 4:16 pm ET

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IKHAN   May 24th, 2010 4:53 pm ET

Hi Larry,
this is a pertinent topic. Hope & pray you are right Iman.
These are the menaces we have to wage war against.
Disease,poverty,illiteracy, social injustice, economic imbalances,destruction of enviornment, apartheid,racism,prejudices. These are the enemies of mankind.
We don't have to find excuses to use our military hardware to defend humanity.


Smith in Oregon   May 24th, 2010 5:23 pm ET

A 'cure' for the HIV AIDs disease is either going to be found or the entire BLACK race is going to be eliminated from Earth because of that disease.

While Hispanics, Caucasians, Oriental races can be victims of HIV AID's wasting diseases, it appears the Black race is specifically and particularly vulnerable. This seems to be found in the genetic level where sickle cell diseases somehow seem to tie specifically into the Black Race being more vulnerable and being more largely infected by this terrible disease.

HIV and the resulting AID's wasting diseases could very well spell the doom of the entire Black race on Earth not just across Africa. Humanity on Earth should be united in doing everything it can to find and perfect a genetic patch or cure for this terrible disease.

40 cents a day? I rather doubt anyone in America suffering from this disease is only being charged 40 cents a day for their treatment. Republican party led Big Pharma is likely gouging the American Taxpayers for a huge amount of money per month in treatment alone.


Zenrahim   May 24th, 2010 6:12 pm ET

Hello Mr. Larry – It is such a pleasure to write this to you. The gulf oil spill if you use flour (use in making breads) it will help to suck up the oil in to a pool of thick pockets which can than be picked up and or sometime the fish can also consume it.


Joe G. (Illinois)   May 24th, 2010 6:26 pm ET

When you cough you are supposed to cover your mouth as an inherent basic form of consideration for others. Same thing when you sneeze.

But do people in Africa oblige? How about African Americans?

And do they respect the sanctity of marriage? Theirs and those of others?

Borak Obama is all for liberal progressive immorality.
How much responsibility does he claim about this moral/social sickness? And how much funds does he contribute to this effect of yours?


Anne D   May 24th, 2010 8:36 pm ET

@Smith in Oregon,
I believe you underestimate the good of pharmaceutical companies. I would post a website but it would probably be deleted, so instead I would suggest you search Merck, Gates, HIV/AIDS as an example.

Also, some of these drugs are now generic which certainly benefits the patient financially especially for the triple cocktail. Additionally, millions and millions of dollars of free drug are given away. More important, the development of these drugs has saved many, many lives and has allowed many to live fairly normal lives.

In no way is this disease considered a "cash cow" by the AMA or pharma as you stated nor is it a cash cow. I would like to acknowledge the pharmaceutical companies for their good work and generosity in treating this devastating disease.


Idzan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   May 24th, 2010 11:42 pm ET

This is one lady who used her fame to contribute to world cause like AIDS among her people.
I have always admired her. so much so, I name my youngest girl after her.
Iman means faith in Islam.
I pray Iman has the faith to carry on this noble cause.


Jessie from Auckland, NZ   May 25th, 2010 4:16 am ET

@ IKHAN May 24th, 2010 4:53 pm ET

Hi Larry,
this is a pertinent topic. Hope & pray you are right Iman.
These are the menaces we have to wage war against.
Disease,poverty,illiteracy, social injustice, economic imbalances,destruction of enviornment, apartheid,racism,prejudices. These are the enemies of mankind.
We don't have to find excuses to use our military hardware to defend humanity.
+++++++

Well said and agree.


Jessie from Auckland, NZ   May 25th, 2010 4:49 am ET

I commend Iman and what she is doing in helping her own African people in their fight against this terrible disease that is taking a toll on their people. She is a beautiful person inside and out.

This is good news to hear of the help they are getting. I hope Iman's wish comes true in the future to eliminate AIDS in Africa. I have seen documentaries and the devastation that this disease is causing is just heartbreaking to watch. Entire families wiped out, countless children left orphaned and have to fend for themselves. The list goes on........

I know there are efforts being made and going on in African communities, to educate them about AIDS. They need all the support and help that they can get. It is a huge problem and our prayers go out to them all.


Ted   May 25th, 2010 8:43 am ET

Sure Imam, sure, right after you killed the very last tsetse fly!!
The sex parctices of a whole continent must be changed first what may take centuries.


Dodie   May 25th, 2010 11:14 am ET

This is a tragic disease that takes people down slowly and often a loss of dignity to their humanness.

@Ted, I see you are bright and sunny this morning. You are correct.

As Benny Franklin once stated..... “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”


Ted   May 26th, 2010 8:29 am ET

@ Dodie

We must upgrade the quality of LKL blogs, they sure need attention.
Best of the day for you and a shot of good Jameson irish whiskey.


Gail   May 31st, 2010 10:59 pm ET

It's not just the African people. I admire your dedication Iman but it also frightens me. Everybody is talking about HIV/AIDS in Africa. What about the United States. My daughter has aids. What about her?


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