Campaign launched to fight infant AIDS


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Of all the good works that clubs like the Rotary focus on, HIV and aids prevention might not come to mind. But for this chapter in Los Altos, fighting AIDS has been a long and emotional campaign.

"It actually happened about 20 years ago, when the president of our club a fellow named Dude Angus announced to the club that his son had contracted AIDS, and was dying," said Rich Casey from Los Altos Rotary.

Rotary members launched a campaign to raise awareness about AIDS, which accelerated after a member announced that he was also HIV positive.

To get the message out they solicited some heavyweight help from Hollywood, including producer Steven Bochco.

"Steven Bochco allowed them to use his studious between midnight and 6:00 a.m., and that's how the film came together," said Mary Prochnow from Los Altos Rotary.

Dude Angus' son Steve, died during the filming of what came to be called "The Los Altos Story," a television film ultimately honored with a prestigious Peabody Award.

"And more importantly to all of us it influenced people's thinking. We had people calling us from all over the country," said Prochnow.

Prochnow believes the films small town backdrop helped families in similar communities around the country begin talking about AIDS.

The Rotary AIDS Project started in Los Altos two decades ago, and it's since spread to rotary clubs around the world. Now on its 20 anniversary, the Los Altos Rotary is launching a new project.

The group is now raising money for an initiative to help prevent AIDS from being transmitted to newborn babies, primarily in Africa.

They want to make available the same simple drug regimen given in the U.S. to HIV positive women before childbirth. Casey believes that would save countless lives.

"700,000, three-fourths of a million babies, and it'll cost about $10 per birth, so about $10 million is what we're hoping to raise over the next 10 years," said Casey.

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