Normally ‘Fickle’ Celebrities Remain True to AIDS Cause, New York Times Reports
Celebrities, who often are "fickle" in backing charities, for more than two decades have supported AIDS causes, citing the disease's toll on art and fashion as well as its effect on their fans, the New York Times reports. Many in the entertainment industry have "personal connections" to AIDS, Alan Abramson, director of not-for-profit studies at the Aspen Institute, said, adding, "AIDS was really associated particularly with the gay population, and there was more of that population present in the entertainment industry." According to AIDS Project Los Angeles Executive Director Craig Thompson, actor Rock Hudson's death in 1985 of AIDS-related cancer encouraged many in the industry to speak out and support the cause. Musician Elton John said he was inspired to form the Elton John AIDS Foundation by Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who was expelled from school when it became known he was HIV-positive. EJAF has raised $126 million for prevention and care. Philanthropy experts also say that AIDS is an important issue for many celebrities' fans -- young adults and sexually active teenagers. A recent campaign by ALDO and YouthAIDS, titled "Hear No Evil. See No Evil. Speak No Evil," in August put up billboards in 20 cities featuring celebrities such as Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek, Christina Aguilera and LL Cool J to reach out to people ages 15 to 24. Fashion designer and American Foundation for AIDS Research Chair Kenneth Cole plans to begin his newest AIDS awareness campaign on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day. AIDS is "the largest and the most devastating disease to hit the planet," Cole said, adding, "To the degree that I have the means to put out the message in a compelling manner, I do use all the resources I can" (Rahimi, New York Times, 11/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.