Every year World AIDS Day comes and goes with so many activities and events it's hard to decipher which are truly unique, interesting, or can make a difference. We've identified a few that seem to be the cream of the crop.
1. ROCK - Lifebeat has been using music to encourage people to talk about HIV and AIDS for 20 years through fun, exciting concerts. In fact, the organization was at Madonna and Rita Ora concerts this year helping people understand how to protect themselves against HIV, and a portion of the proceeds from many of the shows went to continue sexual health and education thanks to Ticketmaster. Additionally, Lifebeat's Hearts and Voices program is an on-going live performance series featuring people with HIV and AIDS, producing about 250 concerts per year across the country. Visit Lifebeat.org to volunteer or go to a show.
2. LOBBY - Forty-five countries still restrict people with HIV from entering their borders. UNAIDS is teaming up with CEOs from major worldwide companies like Levi Strauss & Co., Aetna, and the National Basketball Association to change that. They see such bans as a restriction that impedes business because companies must be able to send their employees and best talent overseas, regardless of their HIV status. “Restrictions on entry, stay and residence for people living with HIV are discriminatory and a violation of human rights,” said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS. Feeling fired up? Why don't you urge the CEO of your company to join the coalition?
3. LIKE - The team at Greater Than AIDS wants you to be an ambassador of good will and understanding starting on World AIDS Day. Download their social media kit to transform your Facebook profile into a virtual positive message.
4. DRINK - Xen Lounge in Studio City, Calif., will offer cocktails made from Belvedere Vodka's (RED) edition through the end of December. As part of the (RED) initiative, 50% of the proceeds from each $14 drink will go to The Global Fund.
5. REFLECT - The largest section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in Florida will be on display, thanks to Compass, the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of the Palm Beaches. The quilt panels on display includes: Max Robinson, the first African-American broadcast network news anchor in the United States; American film, television, and stage actor Franklyn Seales, most famous for his role on the television show Silver Spoons; fashion model Gia Carangi; artist and social activist Keith Haring; and Willi Ninja an American dancer and choreographer whose style served as an inspiration to Madonna’s hit song and music video "Vogue." For more information on times and other events around the display visit CompassGLCC.com
6. WORK IT - Club 101 in El Paso, Texas is raising money by making you work the red carpet. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., walk the red carpet and get snapped up by the paparazzi and then check out a fashion show or bid on some items. The door price and the auction bids will benefit services at International AIDS Empowerment, a local charity. For more information, visit Club101.com
7. TEXT - AT&T is launching a text-to-donate initiative Dec. 1 to Dec. 26, where any mobile subscriber, regardless of carrier, can simply text “HEAL” to “501501” to make a $10 charitable donation to the National AIDS Memorial in San Francisco. The organization also educates youth and provides scholarships to young leaders in the field.
8. WATCH - Fortunately, MTV isn't all Jersey Shore and Teen Mom. In the World AIDS Day special documentary, I'm Positive, Kelly, Otis, and Stephanie share their struggles and triumphs dealing with careers, love, family and living with HIV. Not only was this show produced by Dr. Drew, but it comes from the same team responsible for 16 & Pregnant. Watch it with someone when it airs Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. Eastern.
9. READ - Produced in part by Broadway Cares/EQUITY FIGHTS AIDS, Theater Sex: Before & After brings dozens of actors together to read essays on love and sex on Nov. 30 (before AIDS) and Dec. 2 (after AIDS). A portion of the proceeds go to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. For more, visit KatelasTheatre.com.
10. TEST - Get tested for HIV. The most efficient way to stopping the spread of HIV is to know your up-to-date status. World AIDS Day is probably the best reminder to do so. Visit HIVTest.CDC.gov to find a place to get tested.