Today marks not just World AIDS Day but the 11th anniversary of the Staying Alive, an AIDS/HIV awareness campaign and foundation started by MTV. The Staying Alive Campaign started in 1998, and the foundation was founded in 2005 as a charity to educate young people about HIV/AIDS prevention, erase the stigma of the diseases, and launch a community response to support awareness, management, and prevention.
As the 2009 Staying Alive ambassador, Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy traveled to South Africa, India, and the Philippines to gain a better understanding of the HIV/AIDS epidemic overseas and to help spread the word about awareness and prevention. As someone who lost someone close to them at a young age due to the AIDS virus, Staying Alive is a cause very close to Travis' heart.
"I did some red carpet interviewing for Staying Alive at the AMAs last year," Travis told J-14. "Afterwards I talked to Georgia Arnold, who is the head of Staying Alive, and was like, 'What else can I do? There's got to be something else I can do aside from talking to celebrities about whether or not they're protecting themselves. When I was younger I had someone really really close to me die from AIDS, and there were all these stigmas attached to it. I felt like it was my way of not paying a penance but giving back."
While in South Africa, India, and the Philippines, Travis not only met some amazing Staying Alive grantees, he also gained a better appreciation for what still needs to be done to alleviate stigmas and increase awareness both overseas and here in the United States. The trip was documented for Travis' documentary, Unbeaten Track, and he also wrote a song when the trip was completed called "One At A Time."
"I wanted to keep the cheese-factor to a bare minimum but also make the song something that was going to stay in people's heads and that people would want to download, not only because it's for charity but for the fact that hopefully it'll get people talking," Travis tells J-14.
"One at a Time" is available now on iTunes and all proceeds benefit Staying Alive. Travis' documentary Unbeaten Track airs tonight on MTV (check local listings).
Photo: Courtesy of Ben Spence