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27 Jun 2003

fridae.com teams up with MAC cosmetics to spread the safe-sex message

Fridae.com teams up with the MAC AIDS FUND and Elton John AIDS Foundation Team to spread the first-ever public service announcements on AIDS featuring the MAC AIDS FUND spokespeople Elton John, Mary J. Blige and Shirley Manson.

The MAC AIDS FUND and Elton John AIDS Foundation taped their first-ever 30-second public service announcements, featuring MAC VIVA GLAM spokespeople Elton John, Mary J. Blige, Shirley Manson and 100 local New York teenagers.

Since June 1st, the PSAs have been aired on MTV Asia network, at The Heeren Videotron and online at www.fridae.com. These efforts join other worldwide initiatives to raise greater AIDS awareness including the support from the networks of MTV, VH-1 and BET.

AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death globally. Young people ages 15-24 accounts for 42 persent of new HIV infections and represent almost a third of the global total of people living with HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that 3.2 million teens under 15 years of age will be infected by end 2002 and that 5 people under the age of 25 gets infected each minute daily.

Almost 1 million people throughout Asia and the Pacific acquired HIV in 2002, bringing to an estimated 7.2 million the number of people living with the virus - a 10 percent increase since 2001. A full 6 million of the HIV/AIDS cases in this region are found in South and South East Asia. In addition, a further 490,000 people in the region are estimated to have died of AIDS in the past year.

The region of East Asia and the Pacific is still keeping HIV at bay; however, this offers no cause for comfort. Some 270,000 adults (age 15-49) and children became infected in the course of the year bringing the number of people living with HIV or AIDS at the end of 2002 to 1.2 million. This figure represents 0.1 percent of the region's adult population as compared with the prevalence rate of 0.6 percent in South and South-East Asia.

The PSAs seek to talk to an increasing young, at risk demographic on their level, fusing music and fashion to promote protection and affect their behaviour. Wearing a condom for every sexual encounter, looking out for one another and the fact that AIDS does not discriminate, are some of the key messages.

Action For AIDS, Singapore (AFA) expressed that it is timely that a reminder be made on the ongoing tragedy of AIDS. Especially since HIV infection can be easily prevented.

"At this time when SARS is at the top of everyone's concern, we should not forget the pandemic of AIDS and HIV infection that has killed over 20 million persons and infected another 42 million. Each day 14,000 more men, women and children become infected worldwide. Last year over 220 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents were diagnosed with HIV infection/AIDS," says Dr Roy Chan, President, AFA.
Brenton Wong, AFA's Vice-President, is optimistic a concerted effort to publicise & broadcast the PSAs will play a significant role in AIDS prevention. "Studies and research have shown that young people respond best to educational and awareness methods that speak to them directly. Our youth do not appreciate being lectured to but would not mind learning in a fun, yet factual way. These PSAs fulfill these needs."

"The PSAs encompass & express the mindset and lifestyle of the MTV Generation - and it speaks to them in their language. This generation (from teens to mid-20s) eats and sleeps pop culture and music. This is an age group that is also at greatest risk. Sexually active youth are vulnerable to HIV infection if they do not have enough knowledge.

"The use of such inspirational pop culture icons as Elton John, Mary J Blige, and Shirley Manson to front and to be the voice of the MAC AIDS Fund and The Elton John AIDS Foundation in HIV prevention and in the eradication of stigma and discrimination is a wonderful approach to reaching our youth. These stars are role models who lead by example and are powerful advocates for youth - and they get the message of responsible behaviour and anti-discrimination to youth through these PSAs," Brenton Wong adds.

MAC Cosmetics President, John Demsey, maintains MAC's commitment to the fight against AIDS, particularly amongst teenagers, "Mary, Shirley and Elton are each extraordinary role models who reach the people most affected by AIDS. They are perfect spokespeople for these PSAs because their creative expression appeals to all races all sexes, all ages".

Public Interest Productions, and @radical.media, which also produced Elton John's "AIDS AIN'T OVER" campaign, and elements of MTV's "Fight for Your Rights" campaign, shot the MAC PSAs in Manhattan over three days. Director Mike Franzini has focused much of his career on public service, during which time he has built a strong relationship with the Viacom family of networks. The Director of Photography is Russell Swanson who has worked with The Backstreet Boys, Will Smith and Gloria Estefan. The creative team behind the announcement is Area 17 whose creative director and copywriter both worked on the well-known "TRUTH" anti-smoking campaign.

MTV Networks Asia will be airing the PSAs to over 150 million households in the region throughout the month of June. Mishal Varma, MTV's Vice-President, Programming and Talent & Artists Relations, is unwavering in his support for the AIDS cause:

"As the HIV/AIDS virus is rapidly infiltrating society and young people's agenda, we are proud to champion a worthy cause to educate and empower youths to embrace healthy lifestyles. Since 1998, MTV has been at the forefront of promoting HIV/AIDS awareness globally through on-air programming, forums and concerts in our Staying Alive campaign. From the Emmy Award winning Staying Alive documentaries, to the annual World AIDS Day concerts and last year's Global AIDS Forum held with former American President Bill Clinton, MTV's HIV/AIDS programming has been strategically supported by on-the-ground and online elements to provide information on HIV/AIDS that is accessible by young people 24/7."
The MAC AIDS Fund is pleased to have the support of www.Fridae.com, Asia's largest gay & lesbian portal. The PSAs will be broadcasted online at the website with hyperlinks to www.whitebedroom.com where more information on HIV/AIDS can be found. The latter is a website created by the MAC AIDS Fund.

Stuart Koe, CEO, Fridae.com affirms the website's stance against AIDS:

"Fridae.com is fully committed to advocating for responsible behaviour regardless of one's sexual orientation. The website is the region's largest gay and lesbian portal. We believe in the right to one's sexual expression and the due respect accorded to the individual. AIDS does not discriminate against any sexuality - heterosexual or homosexual. It is our belief that respect & responsibility to oneself, and to others, will bring a happier, healthier and more enlightened world. We stand committed to over 150,0000 proud individuals who visit Fridae.com monthly. We are proud to join MAC in their pioneering work for HIV prevention."

The PSAs will also be generously supported by The Heeren Shops, which will air the spots on their outdoor Videotron from the month of June through December.

From July, Zouk will also join in the fight against AIDS by screening the PSA in all three of its club venues, and the wine bar housed in its historic complex. For Tracy Phillips, Marketing Manager for this world-famous super-club, it is a cause close to heart:

"Over the years as THE clubbing destination for the region, revelers in Zouk has come to resemble the face of Asia - an evolving mix of East & Western influences, a zeal for a wide open future, a premium on style and the optimism to carry a dream in this new millennium. Zouk's management and staff have always been an active advocator to raising awareness and issues affecting the youth community. AIDS is an endemic stemming from ignorance. We are proud to be able to lend a role to propagate greater awareness and HIV prevention through the MAC PSA."

Founded in 1994, The MAC AIDS Fund is dedicated to supporting men, women and children affected by HIV and AIDS. Since its inception, The MAC AIDS Fund has raised over $28 million dollars from the sale of Viva Glam lipsticks and Kids Helping Kids greeting cards. www.MACaidsfund.org.

In 1992, Sir Elton John established the Elton John AIDS Foundation as an international non-profit organization funding prevention education programs and direct patient care services worldwide. Serving as the Foundation Chairman, Elton has Foundation offices in Los Angeles and London. The Elton John AIDS Foundation's (both Los Angeles and London) combined total of grants dispersed has surpassed US$35 million to date.

Click on the link below to see first-ever public service announcements on AIDS featuring the MAC AIDS FUND spokespeople Elton John, Mary J. Blige and Shirley Manson.

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