Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Incorporated, a Pfizer Company, launched "Fighting HIV through R&B," a novel HIV testing program that offers free R&B concert tickets for those individuals who get tested for HIV. The program will be available at participating community clinics and AIDS service organizations nationwide.
The premiere Fighting HIV through R&B, concert features Usher performing at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine on May 18. This is one of over 100 R&B and hip-hop concerts for which Agouron will offer tickets throughout 2002 and 2003. In total, Agouron will offer more than 5,000 tickets for R&B and hip-hop concert tours featuring artists including Patti LaBelle, Joe, DMX and Luther Vandross, in over 40 cities nationwide.
"The Fighting HIV through R&B program is part of Agouron's ongoing commitment to address the need for knowledge and intervention in the HIV crisis, most critically in the African-American community," said Deborah Wafer, Manager, Community Relations, Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "The Fighting HIV through R&B tour brings individuals together — to enjoy the music of today's hottest R&B artists — and to get tested and provide access to community clinics and AIDS service organizations."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 people in the U.S. are currently living with HIV. Although African Americans represent only 13 percent of the U.S. population, currently more than half of all new HIV infections occur among African-Americans.
The Fighting HIV through R&B project — created as a partnership between Agouron and Tony Wafford, community advisory board chair for the HIV Prevention Trials Network in Los Angeles — began as a pilot program in October, 2001 with the Luther Vandross "Take You Out" tour. The program, which covered over 10 cities, resulted in more than 1,600 people being tested for HIV throughout the United States.
"There remains a lot of stigma and misconception about HIV/AIDS within the African-American community, which often creates an obstacle for individuals to consider getting tested," commented Robert Scott, M.D., a Director at the AIDS Project East Bay, in Oakland, CA. Educational programs such as Agouron's Fighting HIV through R&B provide a unique motivation where individuals can become educated about HIV and get tested without the stigma associated with the disease."