Just over 25 years ago a small article in The New York Times reported the outbreak of a rare "cancer" among 41 gay men in New York and California. No one could have predicted the impact that news item would eventually have on the world.
Today, an estimated 22-25 million men, women and children have died of AIDS or AIDS-related illnesses, and an estimated 40 million individuals are living with HIV. AIDS impacts people of all ethnicities, ages, genders and sexual orientations. AIDS is devasting generations in Africa. The United Nations AIDS agency estimates that India has the largest caseload for a single country with 5.7 million individuals infected with HIV. AIDS continues to impact Americans in huge numbers.
World AIDS Day, December 1st, is a time for all people worldwide to unite in the ongoing fight against AIDS. It is up to all of us to stop the spread of HIV - and prejudice - through education, prevention programs, assisting in the care of those with HIV/AIDS, and doing what we can to help find a cure. World AIDS Day also offers a time to reflect on the personal impact of AIDS in our lives.
In December 1985 I got the news that one of my best friends had AIDS - one of the earliest cases in Oregon. Still, I was not prepared for what was to come. Over the next decade so many people I knew died of AIDS, including my college roommate, a fraternity brother, teachers, friends, clients, vendors, neighbors, other roommates, a distant cousin and others. I literally lost count as the number of people I personally knew who died from AIDS neared 100. My cousin, promising playwright and director Bradford O'Neil, was HIV-positive and committed suicide after caring for his partner until his death. This past year my best friend, Brad Hall, - who was diagnosed HIV-positive many years ago - died from what had extended his life. The "cocktail" of medications he'd taken for quite some time destroyed his liver and he did not live to get a proposed transplant. I've thought about many of these individuals with recent AIDS, and World AIDS Day, news.
As "creative types" - designers, photographers, writers and others - we are in a unique position to take action in the ongoing battle against AIDS. It's hard to believe that it has been 20 years since I first started doing design work related to HIV and AIDS. The projects have included logos for AIDS Walks, fundraising events, AIDS organizations, theatrical presentations about AIDS, a food bank for people with HIV, hospices and related clients. I've also created posters, newsletters, banners, ads, education booklets and other collateral items used in informing the public about the prevention of AIDS and the care of those with HIV.
I encourage - or challenge - others in the creative professions to do the same. Contact your local AIDS organizations, health departments, hospices and related groups to offer your services as a designer, photographer, writer, or even as person with some time to donate in providing any service needed.
The following resources may be helpful in locating organizations needing your assistance:
amFAR • KnowHIVAIDS.org • MTV/Staying Alive • UNAIDS • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation • Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative • The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation • Designers Without Borders • ONE • We All Have AIDS • WorldAIDSDay.org • Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS • Doctors Without Borders • GuideStar • Design for Social Impact • AIDS Healthcare Foundation
© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives