NEW YORK: A number of AIDS-related advocacy groups sponsored events or launched new outreach in connection with the annual World AIDS Day, held December 1, hoping to raise awareness for their organizations and their longer term objectives.
Among these, a coalition that includes the Gay Men's Health Crisis, Housing Works, and AIDS Foundation of Chicago launched a Web site-- www.aidsvote.org-- on December 1 and introduced new research aimed at encouraging greater focus on AIDS-related issues during the 2008 election season.
Housing Works communications director David Thorpe said the site collects information on policy and campaign event pronouncements of all the 2008 candidates. The site complements grassroots efforts by various advocacy groups around the country to pique interest in issues such as AIDS funding or bans on needle exchanges.
“People have been ‘bird dogging' the candidates at campaign stops,” Thorpe said. “Nationwide, representations of different AIDS groups have been attending any type of functions they can get to. It only takes one or two people to show up at an event and pose a question. The media see these questions asked over and over and have become more interested in speaking to people and [covering the issues].”
In addition, Ron Lasko, co-owner of Spin Cycle PR, said his firm had been conducting outreach to celebrity fan Web sites on behalf of the third-annual “Bid 2 Beat AIDS.” Ten-day auctions were to begin on December 1 and feature items donated by actors like Jack Nicholson and John Travolta, singers such as Madonna and Mariah Carey, and many other celebrities.
Lasko said the auction, sponsored by the music industry-backed nonprofit charity LIFEbeat, is a year-round grassroots effort that solicits celebrity items at music and other events throughout the year. However, its launch is always timed to coincide with World AIDS Day.
Other efforts tied to the broader event include a campaign called “One Hour on AIDS” by a group called Education International. That effort encourages educators around the world to simultaneously teach the same lesson plan on AIDS.