February 3, 2010
The Institute and the Magic Johnson Foundation (MJF) announced today a new long-term collaboration to fight HIV/AIDS in Black communities. The new partnership will focus on advocacy efforts related to the National AIDS Strategy, expansion of HIV awareness under the Greater Than AIDS campaign, expansion of HIV testing thru the Test 1 Million campaign, collaborative fundraising opportunities, and joint programming activities in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS in 2011.
"It is a true privilege to partner with the Magic Johnson Foundation, an organization that has provided over $1.1 million in lifesaving HIV/AIDS interventions in the past few years," said Institute President and CEO, Phill Wilson. "If we are serious about ending the AIDS epidemic in our community, we have to consolidate our efforts."
Today in the United States, more than half a million Black Americans are living with HIV/AIDS -- far surpassing any other racial or ethnic group. From the outset, Blacks have been disproportionately affected by this disease -- accounting for nearly half of all new HIV infections occurring every year in the U.S. while representing just 12 percent of the population.
While AIDS remains a serious disease -- indeed a deadly threat, especially for Black Americans who are more likely to die as a result of AIDS compared to other groups -- HIV is preventable. Although no cure yet exists, HIV/AIDS is treatable. Advances in treatment can dramatically improve and extend the lives of those infected. And by confronting the misconceptions and stigma that keep people from taking actions -- such as using protection, reducing numbers of partners, getting tested, accessing treatment, and talking openly -- it is within the power of each individual to stop AIDS.
"HIV/AIDS is detectible, preventable, and treatable," says Wilson. "The bottom-line is the Institute and MJF are stronger, better and more effective at ending AIDS in our community. What else needs to be said?"
The Institute and MJF will engage in mobilization efforts to ensure that the needs of Black Americans are addressed in the National AIDS Strategy, a first-of-its-kind initiative by the Obama Administration to craft a comprehensive plan to address the country's HIV/AIDS crisis. the Institute and MJF will work together to ensure that the voices and specific needs of Black Americans are included in the development of the National AIDS Strategy by mobilizing Black institutions, individuals and media through trainings, community updates, news, social media, and entertainment. A formal document is also planned for release that outlines recommendations for including Black Americans in the National AIDS Strategy.
The two organizations will also collaborate to raise awareness, fight stigma, and promote HIV testing within Black communities as part of the Greater Than AIDS movement. Jointly organized by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Black AIDS Institute, Greater Than AIDS is a national media campaign to mobilize Black Americans in response to the AIDS crisis within their community. As a new partner to Greater Than AIDS, the Magic Johnson Foundation will promote the campaign at events, leverage the power of celebrity to build visibility for the campaign, and work with the Institute and its partners to develop special promotions that will help spread campaign messages across the country. As a first effort, the two organizations will partner with the Texas state health department and the Houston Urban League to offer free HIV testing in conjunction with NBA All-Star Weekend, on February 13 in Dallas, TX.
The Institute and MJF will also work together to help raise funds to address AIDS in Black America, including at this year's The Magic of Heroes in the Struggle, an annual fundraising gala held in honor of individuals and corporate "heroes" in the fight against HIV and AIDS. This year's event, to be hosted by Magic and Cookie Johnson in Los Angeles in June, will feature key leaders who have made a special effort to mobilize Black Americans and corporations that have made an exceptional commitment to fighting stigma and mobilizing Black Americans in response to AIDS. Past recipients include: Dr. Helene Gayle, Patti LaBelle, Maxine Waters, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Julian Bond, Danny Glover, and Hill Harper.
"On behalf of the Magic Johnson Foundation, we are excited to work more closely with the Black AIDS Institute -- an organization that continues to be on the cutting edge in the fight against AIDS," said Towalame Austin, President of the Magic Johnson Foundation. "We are excited to work with the Black AIDS Institute and its partners to spread the word about Greater Than AIDS, reinforcing the importance of community mobilization and individual action in response to the epidemic." 2011 will commemorate 20 years of the Magic Johnson Foundation, and 30 years since the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS. The Institute and the Foundation are working collaboratively to develop ways to recognize the history of America's AIDS crisis, including through a traveling exhibit that will tell the story of AIDS in America from a Black perspective.