Taraji P. Henson hosted the amfAR New York Gala on February 8th. The Empire star led the auction which raised $1.6 million dollars to finding a cure for HIV/AIDS.
The night included performances by Halsey and the Michael Aranella Band. Presenters for the evening were Alexander Vreeland, Lisa Immordino Vreeland and film star Queen Latifah who presented the amfAR Award of Courage to hit tv show creator and director of Empire, Lee Daniels. Queen Latifah shared a little known fact about the Hollywood director.
What is not well known is Lee’s personal involvement in the HIV/AIDS crisis back in the early days of the epidemic. He decided to start his own agency. It was the first nursing agency under contract with the AIDS Project Los Angeles. And Lee found himself responsible for the care of people living with HIV, and dying of AIDS, at a time when they were frequently shunned by family, friends and even healthcare workers.
The event also paid tribute to Stefano Tonchi. The W Magazine editor was given the amfAR Award of Courage.
For a young generation who has only known AIDS as a manageable disease and not a life sentence, it is difficult to understand how much the AIDS epidemic affected not just those who succumbed to it, but also everyone around them. That is testament to how far we’ve come in this fight – but it is still important to acknowledge and recognize those who died, those who survived but continue to live with the disease, and those whose lives were traumatized and changed forever, even if they were not sick themselves.
Halsey performed at the amfAR awards in Julien MacDonald. The singer closed the New York Gala with an impassioned speech and an emotional set of her hits.
We can be the generation that ends AIDS.
Every day, amfAR-funded researchers around the world are working on an HIV cure.