Celebrities Changing the World for HIV-Positive People
BY David Artavia
July 21 2013 7:00 PM ET
Aerosmith presenting Lifebeat with a $100,000 donation.
Since 1992, Lifebeat has been a leader in educating American's youth about HIV and AIDS prevention, doing so with huge support from the music industry and Hollywood heavyweights. Now, after 21 years, they are still going strong and making a huge difference. By mobilizing the music industry's biggest talents, they've been able to spread awareness through broadcast, print, social and digital media, and live concerts across the United States, raising millions of dollars for the cause along the way.
This year alone they've partnered with dozens of celebs: Khloe Kardashian and Snoop Lion (who star in their latest PSA), Salt-N-Pepa (who released snowboards adorned with their 1990s image and gave proceeds to Lifebeat), Latin superstar Juanes and hip hop producer Swizz Beatz (who did a PSA for national HIV testing day). The group showed up at the MTV Video Music Awards and gave out condoms at the Electric Daisy Festival. And some of the biggest name musicians have been involved with the group over the years, including Mary J. Blige, Ke$ha, Notorious B.I.G., Maroon 5, Dave Matthews, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Wynonna Judd, John Legend, and the Wu-Tang Clan.
From the beginning, Lifebeat has been a fundraising pioneer as one of the first organizations to raise money for charity through ticket surcharges. In doing so, they have raised over a million dollars simply by generating 25 cents per ticket from some of the country's most successful concerts.
MTV was an early supporter of AIDS prevention and together with Lifebeat, they've organized concerts to support the cause by not only entertaining audience viewers, but educating them as well with projects like the Arches of Hope.
Lifebeat president Gary "Baba Booey" Dell'Abate (producer of the Howard Stern Show) told us how he got involved earlier this year: "I was actively searching for an organization after my brother died. There were many big ones out there that I didn't think needed my help. Lifebeat was small [at the time] and I thought I could really make a difference with them."
Under Dell'Abate's leadership, Lifebeat is now trying to educate a new generation, especially as infection rates among young adults between the ages of 13 - 29 are escalating.
"I hope we can live in a world where, through medicine and education, the numbers [of infections] become minuscule. I have my fingers crossed. That and some hard work might do it," says Dell'Abate.
One of Lifebeat's signature programs is Tour Outreach, a program that provides free condoms and educational literature about HIV at concert venues. Last year they were on six national tours including Madonna, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller, Childish Gamino, and Lil’ Kim, covering 105 cities nationwide, and they were on site at other events including South by Southwest, the BET Awards, and the International AIDS Conference.
Hearts & Voices is a one-of-a kind program in which some of the music industry's biggest artists perform for HIV-positive people, who often can't go to live music events, at medical facilities like hospitals, residential facilities, and day treatment centersin New York and Washington, D.C. They average about 250 concerts a year, and some of the musicians who've performed include Destiny’s Child, LL Cool J, Jewel, Jon Secada, and Floetry.
In honor of Lifebeat's 21 years of raising awareness about HIV among teens and young adults (and probably some tweens, too), we look back at some of the group's highlights.
Check out the most recent video from Snoop Lion and reality TV stalwarts Khloe Kardashian and Vinny Guadagnino, in which the latter Jersey Shore star extols viewers that "if you want to get funky, wrap your monkey." Wise words.
Click the next pages to take a stroll down memory lane.