Talk about AIDS in Africa and people muse about a cure.
But what about the 22 million Africans, 60 percent of them women, who are suffering in the meantime? A new film, The Lazarus Effect, premiering on HBO on May 24, examines the harrowing epidemic and just how easy it is to help those living with the disease. Empty out your change purse because donations of just 40 cents a day provide medicine that puts a solution squarely in reach. Directed by Lance Bangs and executive produced by Spike Jonze, The Lazarus Effect illustrates success stories playing out in Africa. When treated with antiretroviral drugs, near-death patients can recover in just a few weeks — and go from skeletal to strong in merely 90 days. "The drugs are so transformative in such a short period of time, we wanted to show people that this is something that's actually working," says Sheila Roche, the film's producer and head of global communication for (RED), which funds the distribution of medicine to HIV/AIDS patients in Africa and partners with companies like Apple and Gap to bring in even more support. Now, 3,800 people die each day from the disease, but ten years ago, before treatment was affordable and accessible, AIDS claimed more than 6,000 African victims each day.
"Before, all they could do was sit there with a death sentence over their head," Roche says. "Now people get a chance at a future. Without access to this medication, they wouldn't." Want to get involved?
Here are three ways:
- On May 24, watch The Lazarus Effect on HBO or YouTube (at 9 p.m. on HBO & 9:30 p.m. on YouTube)
- Choose (RED) when you're out shopping. 100 percent of the contribution from these products goes to AIDS programs in Africa.
- Get involved through ONE.org or Joinred.com
Check out the trailer for this moving documentary: