AIDS Research Alliance (ARA) hosted its annual fundraiser on Sunday, September 9, 2012 in Los Angeles’ historic Fremont Place. The event’s master of ceremony was the ARA national spokesman, Emmy-winning actor, writer, director and activist LeVar Burton.
AIDS Research Alliance is an independent, approved research organization that has advanced medical science by contributing to half of today’s HIV/AIDS treatments. ARA was the first organization to claim it was possible to cure HIV/AIDS. Now, they are developing a new generation of cure-focused treatments, as well as prevention of HIV infection as an investigational site for the NIH-sponsored HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). With this two-pronged approach—a vaccine, which would prevent the spread of HIV, and a cure, which would eliminate current and future HIV cases, ARA takes the lead in the fight to eradicate HIV/AIDS.
The late-summer afternoon event offered a warm welcome to approximately 80 supporters and sponsors in a specially Spanish-themed courtyard adorned with flowers (arranged by Mark’s Flowers), international music (performed by LA-native Andree Belle), the vibrant rhythm of Pasion Flamenco and Spanish tapas (catered by The Paella Project). Event hosts Kenneth Cam Davis and Sam Randazzo joined Levar Burton (Reading Rainbow host and emcee), Lilian Miller (director of development) and Carolyn Carlburg (CEO) for the benefit of a cure.
The evening included a tasteful dinner from Spanish tapas to beef tenderloin on rustic crostini with horseradish crème and fennel, turkey albondigas with mint saffron aioli, Moorish lamb/beef kabob with mint tatzik, and grilled flat bread with black truffle cheese and arugula, to just mention a few dishes, along with exquisite wine and desserts.
It is remarkable to see a group of people gathered to discuss the day to day advances and the great need for financial support that is required to continue the fight against winning the battle for a cure. HIV/AIDS is such a broad topic but having concerned citizens taking action for a cure is what makes a great difference.
With events such as this and the support of contributing citizens and corporate sponsors, ARA will be able to complete their mission, leading to the stage where we will be able to test if this cure strategy is effective in those with HIV. Every sponsorship and donation made to ARA will move their research closer to in-human, clinical trials. ARA experience in the fight against HIV/AIDS has led to science’s most promising hope for a cure: HIV reservoir eradication. In treated individuals, HIV hides in “reservoirs” within blood cells. AIDS Research Alliance is developing a drug called, Prostratin, which forces the latent virus to reveal itself, and also keeps the virus from infecting other cells. This allows the body’s own immune system to destroy the virus.
AIDS Research Alliance has been nominated to participate in the Chase Community Giving contest this September. Chase Bank is giving away $5 million to one of the 196 nominated charities that receives the most votes during the voting period (September 6-19). ARA aims to win the prize as it will allow them to fund the last four in-vitro prostratin experiments. This progress will lead to a stage where the cure will be able to tested to see if it is effective in humans.
Though many people with HIV/AIDS are living longer lives, the treatments are a financial burden and the cumulative side effects can be severe, with infection spreading into new communities. A cure would eliminate this risk and drastically improve the lives of 34 million people worldwide living with HIV.
The success of this event was also made possible by strong sponsors such as Larry Chrysler, Cam Davis & Sam Randazzo, James Frost, Frank K. Pennino & Associates, Dr. David Hart & Mr. Edward Gould, Sherry Johnson, Jan Michaels, William Morris Endeavor and in-kind donations provided by ONEHOPE Wine, ONE Coconut Water and Sprinkles Cupcakes.
For more about ARA, visit aidsresearch.org. AIDS Research Alliance of America is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c) (3) charitable organization. Gifts to AIDS Research Alliance are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.