The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday profiled Joe Cristina, founder of the Los Angeles-based Children Affected by AIDS Foundation. According to the Post-Gazette, Cristina founded CAAF in 1993 with the support of the toy company Mattel, where he was an executive, as a way to "channel" the "energy and support" he received after being diagnosed with HIV.
CAAF supports children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, as well as raises public awareness about the disease. The foundation also supports children whose parents have died of AIDS-related causes. CAAF reaches 35,000 children annually and provides "food, clothing, medicine, social and recreational activities, trips to camp, outings to the zoo" and other activities, according to CAAF President Cathy Brown. In addition, the foundation offers support groups for children and encourages them to discuss their HIV-positive status.
Cristina said he realized that he "needed to do something" to help people affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic after seeing the National AIDS Memorial Quilt in 1993. Cristina's longtime partner, Armando, who died of an AIDS-related illness in the 1980s, had a patch on the quilt. Mattel provided the initial funding for CAAF, which is also supported by Toys R Us, Walt Disney, Nickelodeon and the MAC AIDS Fund. In addition, Mattel holds fundraisers to support the foundation, which has raised $30 million, the Post-Gazette reports (Meyers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/1).
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