Janet Jackson, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Brooke Shields joined thousands of revelers in risque attire Saturday at the Life Ball, a flamboyant Austrian fundraiser for people with HIV and AIDS.
The trio was among a slew of celebrities who participated in a flashy opening ceremony outside Vienna's city hall that included a fashion show and live acts by Natasha Bedingfield, Holly Johnson and Natalia Kills.
Clinton reminded partygoers — many covering private body parts with nothing more than paint, feathers or G-strings — that a large number of those infected with the virus still aren't getting access to lifesaving treatment.
"We are here tonight because 10 million people in poor countries still need to be on the medicine and if you want to cut the infection rate, if you want to cut the death rate, we have to finish the job," he said.
In 2002, Clinton established an initiative to facilitate access to antiretroviral treatment and improve national health care systems in developing countries.
Jackson recalled how in 1998, a South African AIDS activist was beaten to death by her neighbors after announcing on television that she was HIV positive.
Earlier, she told reporters that every little bit helps when it comes to fighting AIDS.
"We can't continue to let this happen," said Jackson, who is a representative of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.
Brooke Shields, meanwhile, presented a €100,000 Crystal of Hope award to Anya Sarang, CEO of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice that runs projects in Russia, where those who are HIV positive are often stigmatized.
"She is definitely an angel," Shields said of Sarang.
In a video address, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan called for continued action to ensure progress.
"We need to constantly renew our commitment and measure our success not in terms of resolutions past but in the lives of future generations saved," he said. "We all have a role to play."
Life Ball: http://www.lifeball.org/