The summer of 2008 has been filled with momentous news and developments concerning HIV/AIDS worldwide, and in the United States. Two major clinical vaccine trials were abandoned in the past year — leaving education as the only vaccine we have. Then, the Centers for Disease Control admitted that it had seriously undercounted the number of U.S. HIV infections by as much as 40%, calling into question its education and prevention efforts in communities around the country.
At the 17th International AIDS Conference, held this year in Mexico City, 25,000 delegates from around the world called for a full-scale campaign to reduce the stigma surrounding the disease, and, Dr. Peter Piot, the head of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said that “public health must be marketed as effectively as commercial products.” These developments underscored the growing need for Cable Positive and for corporate social responsibility to fight HIV/AIDS. The question is, will we have your financial support to do the job?
Consolidation of the cable-industry calendar has changed the playing field for Cable Positive and we need your direct support sooner and more clearly than ever before. Cable Positive’s Annual Benefit Dinner — which had been our single largest source of income to support our programs and services — has gone the way analog TV is going in February — it’s disappearing. Instead, we’ll be recognizing governmental, humanitarian, and cable industry leadership making a difference against HIV/AIDS at a joint NCTA/Cable Positive Chairmen’s Reception at the Cable Show in April, 2009 — an historic first.
Industry CEOs wanted to change the status quo of too many benefit dinners and too much T&E, and Cable Positive responded. First, the joint NCTA/Cable Positive Chairmen’s Reception will not be a fund-raiser. It will be, as it has been for years at the Cable Show, a tribute to cable’s outstanding leadership. There will be no speeches delivered, nor awards handed out — that will be done at a separate invitation-only event for the Cable Positive honorees. The Chairmen’s Reception at NCTA will be much the same as it has been — only with the added opportunity to meet the leaders among you — as well as governmental leaders who have used the power of their positions or personalities to fight HIV/AIDS, much as Michael Willner, Bill Roedy and Dr. Helene Gayle were recognized for their outstanding work earlier this year.
So, how will Cable Positive raise the funds it needs to deliver our programs and services to the communities and individuals your companies serve? How will we continue to raise the kind of grant money we’ve donated to 300 community-based organizations in 45 States, touching tens of millions of lives? How will we continue to produce and distribute award-winning PSAs on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, or documentaries such as Positive Voices: Women & HIV which Showtime Networks aired in 2007, millions more of your subscribers saw on VOD, and community-based health clinics around the country requested as an educational tool? How will we build on the multimillion-dollar investment of money and the billion-dollar investment of airtime the cable industry has made in this battle against AIDS that far outpaces anything done by our competitors in satellite or telephone?
A number of your colleagues are the first off the starting blocks to pledge their support for Cable Positive’s continuing contribution to the battle against HIV/AIDS, including Time Warner Cable, NBC Universal, Showtime Networks, Mediacom Communications, Cox Communications, Suddenlink Communications, Rainbow Media Services, Lifetime Networks, Broadcasting & Cable/Multichannel News and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. These early pledges of support have meant a minimum contribution of $25,000, with a whole range of corporate sponsorship levels to enable us to continue our community-building work and intensify our efforts in the areas of AIDS education, awareness and prevention.
From outside the industry, The Wall Street Journal has reported favorably on our national awareness, education and prevention campaigns, as well as our use of a “cable roadblock”— in primetime — to get our messages out. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation has described our approach to fighting HIV/AIDS as “unique because it is both a resource for the industry and a vehicle for it to act collectively on a critical issue.” And the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health has recognized Cable Positive and the cable industry with its’ prestigious Leadership in Corporate Responsibility Award.
We cannot do it without you and your support. Cable Positive has responded boldly to the cable industry leadership’s call for change. Now, it’s your turn.