LOS ANGELES (November 2) In anticipation of World AIDS Day on December 1st, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has launched a new billboard outdoor advertising to call attention to the millions of people still affected by HIV/AIDS around the globe today. Inspired by vintage fuel pump counters, the billboards draw attention to staggering statistics from UNAIDS on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, including “1,000,000 AIDS Deaths in 2016”; “1,800,000 New HIV Cases in 2016” and “20,000,000 Untreated HIV Cases in 2016.” The final number on each billboard appears to be rolling, a visual allusion to the fact that the numbers of individuals directly affected by HIV/AIDS continue to increase.
“Each year as we commemorate World AIDS Day, we like to stop and access the progress that has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS around the world and identify those areas where our efforts still need to be refocused and intensified. As AHF celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and the milestone of having over 820,000 patients in our care across the globe, we are encouraged that millions of lives have been saved through targeted prevention efforts, testing and breakthrough medical treatments. However, the prescription drugs required to treat HIV/AIDS and many other chronic diseases remain out of reach for many governments, insurers and individuals due to Big Pharma’s endless pursuit of profits at the expense of people in need. This unconscionable price gouging must be stopped,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “These billboards are meant to be a stark reminder that real lives are at stake in our challenge to win the decades-long fight against this global epidemic.”
The billboards started appearing in late September in high-visibility locations around Los Angeles; Brooklyn, NY; Atlanta, GA; Washington, DC; and South Florida and are scheduled to run through mid-November.
In September 1983, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used the term ‘AIDS’ (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) for the first time, describing it as “a disease at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell mediated immunity, occurring in a person with no known case for diminished resistance to that disease.” The International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses announced in May 1986 that the virus that causes AIDS will officially be called HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). According to UNAIDS, over 36 million people are living with HIV/AIDS around the world and over 76 million people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic. Although AIDS has claimed more than 35 million lives to date, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 48% since the peak in 2005. In 2016, over 19 million people globally were accessing antiretroviral therapy to prolong their lives and stop the spread of the virus.
In 1987, a group of activists founded AIDS Hospice Foundation in Los Angeles to provide a final resting place for terminally ill AIDS patients. Three years later, as lifesaving antiretroviral medical therapy was introduced, AIDS Hospice Foundation changed its name to AIDS Healthcare Foundation in 1990 to signify its new focus on being a medical provider to people living with HIV/AIDS.
As the largest global provider of HIV medical care today, AHF will debut a new billboard closer to World AIDS Day with the number of people living with HIV/AIDS the organization now has in care worldwide.