“amfAR Gala Cannes 2023: Stars, Glitz, and Donations for AIDS Research”

2023-05-25 14:25:27

Every year, l’amfARAmerican Foundation for AIDS Research (foundation for research on AIDS, in French) organizes during the Cannes Film Festival a charity gala where the stars present make donations and participate in auctions for the benefit of medical advances and prevention against the AIDS.

On May 25, 2023, and as usual, the famous ceremony will take place at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d’Antibes. Explanation of the committed and unmissable event on the Croisette.

Nearly $617 million invested

According to the amfAR website, the American foundation is “one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting AIDS research, HIV prevention [Virus de l’immunodéficience humaine, ndlr]treatment education and advocacy”.

Created in 1985 by Elizabeth Taylor – mythical actress who starred in Cleopatra, Giant, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf… -, and researchers Mathilde Krim and Michael Gottlieb, the organization has “invested nearly $617 million in its programs and awarded more than 3,500 grants to research teams worldwide.”

Today the impact of this is significant: “From 2015 to 2020, [ils ont] invested nearly $53 million in 109 cure-oriented research projects in 15 countries.” These numerous investments have enabled, among other things, “the development of antiretroviral drugs that are keeping millions of people alive and helping to eliminate transmission of HIV from mother to child in many parts of the world”, further details the organization’s website.

amfAR describes itself as “a highly respected advocate of rational and compassionate public policy on HIV/AIDS”.

Two women at the helm of amfAR

Originally, the amfAR is the union between the AMF (AIDS Medical Foundation), founded in 1983 in Los Angeles by several scientists including Mathilde Krim and the National AIDS Research Foundation “constituted in California in August 1985”.

Mathilde Krim, a pioneer in AIDS research, who died in 2018, was rewarded for her work in 2000 by receiving the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States of America, quotes an article of UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS). While Elizabeth Taylor, who died in 2011, was named Lady of the British Empire, an honorary title which rewards courage and success.

A disease still taboo

American actor Rock Hudson is one of the first to attend the amfAR gala and donate $250,000. Died a few weeks after this one, the man suffering from AIDS made it possible to highlight this disease which nobody was talking about at the time.

As amfAR itself recalls, “the first reports of a mysterious new disease affecting young gay men appeared in the summer of 1981”. It was in 1982 that the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) qualified it and gave it the name “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)”.

It counts that year 771 reported cases and 618 deaths. For several years, AIDS was considered a “gay disease” reinforcing prejudices about the LGBTQIA+ community and homophobia.

A taboo subject and difficult to discuss both in private and in the media, it was not until 1987 that President Reagan mentioned the disease publicly, indicates amfAR. Since 2008, there have been Mathilde Krim grants which support young scientists in their research to fight disease.

amfAR at the Cannes Film Festival

This year in Cannes, for the 76th edition, 22 celebrities will preside over the event. Among them, Heidi Klum, Scarlett Johansson, Robert de Niro or actress Eva Longoria. During the benefit gala, feminist rapper Queen Latifah, also known as “the first lady of hip-hop”, will be the mistress of ceremonies.

The show will be provided by artists such as Bebe Rexha, Adam Lambert and Gwladys Knight. A special “Icons” fashion show is also organized. Cult looks and ultra-famous models promise an evening full of glitter… and donations.

Point of viewa magazine specializing in the news of the royal families, also specifies that Prince Albert and his wife, Princess Charlene of Monaco will also be present.

In 2022, the event collected around 19 million dollars or 17.7 million euros. In 2009, Fashion Network, a news site specializing in luxury, beauty and fashion, referred to the gala chaired by Sharon Stone and Bill Clinton. Among the pieces sold at auction that evening, “autographed photos of Madonna 35,000 euros and Nastassja Kinski at 100,000 euros”. According to the media, “the tables of benefactors of ten covers had been invoiced 150,000 dollars (108,000 euros) and the individual napkin ring, 4,000 dollars (2,881 euros)”.

Three patients have already recovered from AIDS

In February 2023, IciStem – a collaborative project that seeks to assess the potential for HIV cure in HIV-infected patients requiring allogeneic stem cell transplantation for hematological disorders – of which the Institut Pasteur is part announced the cure of a third AIDS patient.

The latter who suffered from cancer was treated by undergoing a bone marrow transplant. As written West France in his article, “this therapy is not generalizable to all patients, but opens up avenues.”

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