Flipping through old issues of HX, we found this story on Aid For AIDS, an organization that collects unused HIV medication and sends the pills overseas. Because of strict US laws against sharing medication, you can’t legally give your unused pills to someone else in this country–and there are a lot of unused pills, when HIV meds become ineffective and Positive people need to switch to another cocktail. So the drugs are sent to Africa, where most people can’t get any medication due to the high cost.
We think Aid For AIDS is one of the coolest organizations out there, and we applaud founder Jesus Aguais for demonstrating how one person with one good idea can improve the lives of so many people. These small organizations are really what creates change, bit by bit. Perhaps if you, or someone you know, has some pills sitting around, you can donate them as well?… For more information on Aguais and his work, go to Aid For Aids’ website.
You have to register with HX to read the article, so we reprinted it below:
Considering how expensive most HIV drugs are, it’s horrifying to discover how much of them just get thrown away. But at least one nonprofit group, Aid for AIDS, is trying to change that.
Aid for AIDS began in 1996 as an HIV medication recycling program. When HIV patients change their drug regimens because they’ve become resistant, or they simply can’t tolerate it anymore, their leftover medicines are officially supposed to go to waste because they’ve been designed specifically for that person, even though 80 percent of it is often untouched.
But Jesus Aguais, founder and executive director of AFA, saw an opportunity to help more people worldwide by collecting those leftovers and forwarding them on to developing countries where HIV treatment is thin.
“From 1996 until now, we’ve sent more than 25 million dollars worth of medicine overseas,” Aguais proudly explains. “And we train doctors in Latin American countries in AIDS treatment.”
Yet AFA remains largely unknown to the HIV community. “For the first eight years or so, we were basically word of mouth – we created our own network,” Aguais says. But last year, the organization secured funding from a private donor and from the Elton John AIDS Foundation. This new support allowed them to create the Be a Hero campaign, the group’s first major advertising push.
“It’s called that because we want people to know they can save lives,” Aguais explains. “Our donors find it a great esteem builder to know they’re helping others.”
The campaign features a sexy Superman-like figure ripping off his shirt to reveal AFA’s logo on his rippled chest. And it all begins with a star-spangled benefit launch party, next weekend at Splash. The Be a Hero Benefit will be hosted by Queer Eye’s Carson Kressley, with performances by local stars including celeb impersonator Jimmy James, Star Search winner Marty Thomas and dance vocalist SupaNova.
If you feel like saving the world but don’t want to bother with the lycra jumpsuit, Aid for AIDS is the way.
Be a Hero Benefit, 5pm Sun Apr 23 @ Splash, 50 W 17th St, 212-691-0073, $5 before 7pm, $10 after, aidforaids.org.