Around 100 people gathered at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 23 to support The Campbell Foundation’s 25th Anniversary celebration.  

For the past two and a half decades, this private nonprofit has focused its funding on supporting alternative, nontraditional avenues of research on the prevention and treatment of HIV. 

Created by the late Richard Campbell Zahn, a chemist who developed Herpecin-L Lip Balm for the treatment of cold sores, The Campbell Foundation has awarded more than $11 million in grant funding with money benefitting 165 clinical research grants since its launch in 1995. Each project has a minimum or four scientists or lab personal working on it. 

Although Zahn died from complications due to AIDS, his final wish to set up a private, independent foundation that would support nonprofit organizations conducting clinical, laboratory-based research into the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS lives on.

“Richard would be proud we’re still working toward a cure,” said Executive Director Ken Rapkin. “We’ve given seven emergency relief grants in times crisis including helping 

a day care center for HIV positive children in New York following 9/11. We’ve also helped those living with HIV and AIDS affected by natural disasters. We have a board of trustees who understands funds are needed now and not a few days or weeks from now.”

Twenty-five years later, thanks to continued support and interest, The Campbell Foundation has given more than $9.9 million going to HIV research in the laboratory and more than $1.2 million to organizations supporting those living with HIV in our community. 

Attendees at the ArtServe event included various members of the local AIDS support services community such as Latinos Salud, Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center, Care Resource and SunServe.

Rapkin was delighted to see so much support for The Campbell Foundation’s 25th Anniversary as well as the return of keynote speaker Dr. Mario Stevenson from University of Miami, who spoke at the event. Stevenson is chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Miami School of Medicine

“Dr. Stevenson spoke at our event last year and was such a hit, it was wonderful to have him speak again this year,” Rapkin said. “Of the top 10 new HIV and AIDS infection hotspots, Miami and Broward are on that list. Dr. Stevenson delivered a very dynamic PowerPoint presentation on the current state of HIV/AIDS in South Florida, which is the epicenter of new cases and what UM is doing to combat new infections, the work that is taking place in his lab and the barriers that researchers face in developing an effective vaccine.”

Another ongoing issue within the HIV epidemic is the significant part of the population who is infected and still doesn’t know it.

“There are still areas of this country where there is no education on HIV and AIDS and no sexual information on how the disease is spread,” Rapkin said. “Although we have made strides and HIV and AIDS is no longer a death sentence, stigma is ever present and the work continues.”