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Austria: Life Ball 2004

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Aids is the new scourge of mankind. Despite intensive efforts, research has so far only managed to prolong the life expectancy of those infected with HIV or Aids, but without being able to defeat the disease. The struggle to overcome the immune deficiency disease devours vast amounts of money each year. Those who try to raise funds for research are faced with determined attempts to ignore the problem, while those affected face marginalisation, isolation and discrimination. However, Aids is an illness that can literally affect anyone, not only drug addicts or homosexuals. There is no region, no social strata and no age group that is left untouched.

Gery Keszler and Dr. Torgom Petrosian founded the Aids Life Association in 1992 in order to raise funds for the battle against Aids. It was on May 29, 1993 that the Vienna City Hall was the venue for the first Life Ball, which has been organised since then each year by Gery Keszler. The net profits of what has now become a fixed element in the social life of the city, supplemented by the contribution from numerous sponsors, is distributed to relief organisations by the Aids Life Association.

Hundreds of journalists, dozens of TV and radio programmes and other media report on this major event each year. The international fashion world assists the Aids research at every Life Ball by staging a spectacular fashion show involving top designers such as Missoni, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Paco Rabanne. Famous top models together with leading personalities from Austria and abroad present the designers' creations on the catwalk. This catwalk takes the form of the Aids ribbon and is a huge festivity for the eye and the senses for the over 4000 guests against the splendid background of the Vienna City Hall.The Life Ball, one of the largest charity events in the world, is, in contrast to all the other traditional balls in Vienna, a noisy, colourful and extreme event with plenty of exposed flesh.In 2004, the Austrian Post AG is supporting the good cause by donating 10 Cent per commemorative stamp sold.

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