Last night we attended a screening of Rachel Zoe‘s new PSA video for the Abzyme Research Foundation at the Crosby Street Hotel. The video, which you can stream above, is inspired by Citibank’s identity theft ads and features Zoe narrating the story of HIV activist Fortunata Kasege. If you are wondering what uber-stylist Rachel Bananas Zoe is doing in a PSA announcement, we were, too; the Abzyme Research Foundation is the first charitable cause to which Zoe has lent her name, and it is an admirable cause indeed. ARF, founded by milliner-gallerist-event planner, Zachary Barnett, has two main aims: firstly, the Foundation is hoping to circumvent the public’s “AIDS fatigue” (it can get a little tiring when people ask you to “update your Facebook status to raise awareness”) by circulating a series of videos (such as Zoe’s) that tell the stories of those affected by the virus in a new, striking way. The second goal of the Foundation is much more specific: to raise 1.5 million dollars for a preclinical trial of a potential HIV/AIDS vaccine at the University of Texas. The vaccine hopes to use abzymes (an antibody) to neutralize HIV reproduction in AIDS sufferers and thus relieve, if not cure, the virus.* The idea of a “cure” for AIDS is a very recent, and still polemic, notion. In spite of the publicity received by the Timothy Brown, the first person to be cured of AIDS, only 0.3% of the 15 billion dollars donated to AIDS work each year is directed towards researching a cure.
*Alas, science is not our strong suit, so if you would like a more (but not that) in depth explanation, we suggest you watch this CBS video.