The charitable organisation Aids Life was founded in 1992 by Gery Keszler and Torgom Petrosian, and a year later saw the beginning of Life Ball’s success story. In 2016 the idea behind Aids Life was re-examined and thought up anew. The result was LIFE+, the organisation responsible for the Life Ball, which is a platform the entire year round for education, information and more acceptance in the field of HIV/AIDS, and for social-political and health policy development on an international scale. These themes can clearly be seen in the partnerships with diverse non-profit organisations from Africa, Asia and Europe that LIFE+ has brought to fruition over the last 25 years.
KNOW YOUR STATUS: the first campaign from LIFE+
Every year LIFE+’s activities are focused on a main campaign which encompasses various different events and actions. At present it’s their “KNOW YOUR STATUS” campaign that is attracting international attention. Its core goal is to combat the stigma of HIV/AIDS and testing for HIV, as early detection of this disease can save lives; it’s the first step in being able to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS and to end it.
Around 36.7 million people around the world are living with HIV, but only 70% of those are aware of their immunity status. Only one out of seven HIV-positive people in Europe know of their status, and that’s in spite of the fact that all resources are available to reach a straightforward early diagnosis. The stigma of the disease and discrimination are still some of the main reasons why people don’t get themselves tested for HIV.
SUPPORT AND RAISING AWARENESS
“I know my status! Do you?” asked Kate Winslet and Uma Thurman. These are only two of the testimonials filmed by star photographer Peter Lindbergh for the KNOW YOUR STATUS campaign. The famous actresses took the lead, and there was a resulting call for others to participate and let everybody know that they’re aware of their status with the hashtag #KNOWYOURSTATUS_LIFEBALL. A world-wide movement ensued, encouraging HIV testing, enlightenment and the lifting of stigma. Knowing your own immunity status should, after all, be as natural as knowing your own blood type.
The photography and social media campaign was complemented with mobile AIDS testing centres and focused support was directed to international organisations working with those affected. Furthermore, in 2017 the LIFE+ Award was presented. The award, which forms part of the Life Ball project, recognises projects that have made an outstanding contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Last year, IWantPrEPNow & PrEPster were honoured for their dedication in this field.