Love Heals: Educating Our Youth about HIV and AIDS

This year the annual Love Heals Gala raised more than $600,000 to support its mission of educating young people about HIV/AIDS. The star-studded event was held on March 11th at the Four Seasons Restaurant. InStyle’s Hal Rubenstein, who shared his personal struggle of living with HIV, emceed the evening.

Those honored this year for their philanthropic work in the area of HIV/AIDS were John Demsey of Estee Lauder Companies and the M•A•C AIDS Fund; Danielle Snyder and Jodie Snyder Morel of DANNIJO; and Bronson van Wyck of Workshop of the World.  The gala’s awards were presented by Natalie Morales of the Today Show; Margaret Russell, Editor in Chief at Architectural Digest; and Alina Cho, Editor at Large at Random House.

Love Heals co-founder Dini von Mueffling stated, “Our work in HIV/AIDS education is more critical than ever, as 25 percent of new infections occur in young people ages 13-25 and stigma about the disease has risen again. Love Heals will continue to combat these statistics and [the gala] helps immensely.”

John Demsey, Chairman of the M•A•C AIDS Fund stated, “I am honored to work alongside Love Heals to educate and serve people of all ages, all races, and all sexes living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. The courageous platform of Love Heals states that prevention and edification on the subject of HIV and AIDS is significant to everyone, in all corners of the world from all walks of life.” Since 1994 the M•A•C AIDS Fund has been dedicated to supporting bold and innovative organizations around the world that provide vital services and strengthen the safety net for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. With its groundbreaking VIVA GLAM campaign, 100 percent of the proceeds from every VIVA GLAM product go directly to men, women, and children affected by HIV/AIDS. To date, the M•A•C AIDS Fund has committed more than $300 million to fund HIV/AIDS programs across the globe, including programs such as The Bailey House, headquartered in East Harlem.

John Demsey and Carol Gertz, left, Danielle Snyder and Jodie Synder Morel of DANNIJO, right
John Demsey and Carol Gertz, left, Danielle Snyder and Jodie Synder Morel of DANNIJO, right

Love Heals, The Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education, was co-founded by Dini von Mueffling, Stefani Greenfield, and Victoria Leacock Hoffman, after the death of their best friend Alison Gertz. Ms. Gertz, born and raised in Manhattan, a child of an affluent family, contracted HIV in 1982 at the age of sixteen. She wasn’t tested until she became chronically ill six years later. She went public with her story in a 1989 New York Times interview. She stated, “All the AIDS articles are about homosexuals or poor people on drugs, and unfortunately a lot of people just flip by them. They think it doesn’t apply to them. They can’t turn the page on me. I could be one of them, or their daughter. They have to deal with this. I want to talk to these kids who think they’re immortal. I want to tell them: I’m heterosexual, and it took only one time for me.”

Ms. Gertz’s mission was to teach young people that if she could contract HIV, anyone could. Alison Gertz died in 1992 of AIDS-related pneumonia, yet her legacy lives on through Love Heals. Love Heals reaches more than 40,000 young people each year utilizing innovative educational programs led by HIV-positive speakers. Love Heals partners with more than 700 schools and community groups throughout New York City. For further information visit