Spreading the word to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among America's youth. That's the ongoing quest of Lifebeat: Music Fights HIV/AIDS. Since 1992, the national nonprofit has rallied the music industry through artist PSAs, events and various campaigns to raise awareness about the disease.
In late August, Lifebeat hosted an MTV Video Music Awards pre-party at New York's Terminal 5, headlined by Robin Thicke and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Now the organization has kicked off its latest campaign, #MusicFightsAIDS, in honor of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
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Launched Nov. 29, the multifaceted campaign has enlisted a wide swath of the music industry. Artists, musicians and DJs, including Scottish synth-pop band Chvrches and British house music DJ Carl Cox, are encouraging fans to participate through social media. Media outlets ranging from MTV, SiriusXM and Spotify to the Village Voice, Beatport and Billboard are donating digital, print and broadcast space. Lifebeat has also partnered with various venues-among them New York's Best Buy Theater, Los Angeles' Supper Club and Miami's LIV-to provide concert- and club-goers with free condoms and prevention literature.
"This is a call to action by and for people who live and breathe music," says Lifebeat president and "The Howard Stern Show" producer Gary Dell'Abate. "We can talk till we're blue in the face about this. But if Rihanna or Madonna says it, it carries a lot more weight."
And that connection is crucial given the dramatic rise in HIV among youth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 1,000 youth between ages 13 and 24 are newly infected with HIV each month in the United States. That's nearly a 20% increase from earlier reports. An estimated 60% of HIV-infected young people have never been tested, aren't being treated and may be unknowingly spreading the disease.
Lifebeat's mission hits close to home for Dell'Abate. His brother died from AIDS in 1991, spurring his nearly 18-year association with the organization.
"A lot of managers and artists know there's an alarming amount of infections," he says. "That's their audience too."