Helping people with HIV/Aids lead longer, happier and healthier lives.
M∙A∙C Viva Glam (previously known as the M∙A∙C AIDS Fund) is an international philanthropic initiative launched by the original founders of M∙A∙C Frank Angelo and Frank Toscan in 1994. At the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, they were concerned about the devastating impact the disease was having on friends and colleagues within the fashion industry, so they set to raise much-needed funds and support those affected. While in recent years the number of HIV diagnoses* has continued to reduce – in 2013, there were 1,032 new notifications in Australia, and in 2017, that number dropped to 937 – there is still so much work to be done.
In 2019, Viva Glam is celebrating 25 years and has raised an incredible USD$500 million dollars globally – including $10 million in Australia alone – via the sale of the M∙A∙C Viva Glam Lipstick. All proceeds go to supporting several local charities to help those living with HIV/AIDS lead longer, healthier, happier lives.
One of M∙A∙C Australia’s long-standing charity partners is the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation. In 1984 at just 38-years-old, Bobby Goldsmith was one of the first Australians to die from an AIDS-related illness. “Hospitals were a daunting place for people with what then was a strange, new disease,” explains Siobhan Reynolds from the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation. “Bobby’s friends got together to find a way of giving him the love and care he needed at home, raising money and buying equipment to make his last weeks as comfortable as possible.” This was the catalyst for the creation of the foundation, what Reynolds calls the legacy of Bobby’s dedicated group of friends: “It was born out of love, which has continued for 35 years and will continue into the future.”
The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation provides practical and emotional support to people living with HIV regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, armed with the knowledge and understanding that the disease can affect every facet of life. “We now have more diverse clients but the one thread that links them all is that they very often experience stigma and discrimination because of their HIV status,” explains Reynolds. The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation assists in coordinating care for people living with HIV who have complex needs or challenges by offering practical financial advocacy and counselling, health and well-being programs, community support service and more. “From diagnosis onwards, we work with our clients to limit the challenging circumstances of social isolation, economic poverty and stigma that are often so detrimental to their physical and emotional wellbeing,” adds Reynolds.
As you can imagine, the treatment for HIV has come a long way since the foundation launched in 1984 but the need for support and awareness remains, says Reynolds. “We would not be able to undertake our vital work without the support of individuals, charitable trusts and companies like M∙A∙C, who support our mission and help to ensure that we continue to have as great an impact as possible on the communities we serve.” Over the past 11 years, M∙A∙C Viva Glam has donated over $1.2 million to the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, which has been used to provide life-saving HIV medication to clients, providing housing and funds for essential services such as financial counselling, vocational guidance and capacity-building workshops for those who need help in coming to terms with their HIV diagnosis. “As a result, many of our clients have been able to survive the harsher periods of their illness and be healthy enough to gain the confidence and skills to return to work, study or volunteering,” she explains.
So how can we help? In addition to purchasing a M∙A∙C Viva Glam Lipstick, Reynolds says one of the key aims is to help end the stigma that is still very much associated with living with HIV. “We believe that education will be the key driver in ending HIV if we use it and know that if we work together towards an educated and discrimination-free tomorrow, policies and actions will be science-driven and not based on fear. We imagine a society where a person’s HIV status doesn’t define them or indicate how they should be treated.”
For more information on the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, head to BGF.org.au or to donate, click here.
*Australia Federation of AIDS organisations, HIV in Australia 2019.
Images, courtesy of the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.