Ryan Lewis and Macklemore are making their visionary rap lyrics a reality as they set out to provide health care access for those who need it the most, through the 30/30 Project. Inspired by the amazing 30 year-long survival of Ryan’s mother, Julie Lewis, the Lewis family set out to celebrate in a manner that would have a positive impact on the lives of others.
After being diagnosed with HIV at age 32, Julie Lewis was given three years to survive. Unfortunately, one year before testing for the HIV virus in blood transfusions, Julie contracted the disease at age 25, through an emergency blood transfusion during birth to her daughter, Teresa Hillis. Luckily, daughter Laura Irwin and son Ryan Lewis tested negative for HIV after having a 25 percent chance of being infected.
Living 27 years longer than expected, Julie recognizes how her own access to health care opportunities have helped to keep her alive, recently sharing her survival story on ‘CBS This Morning. Julie’s 30 year-long survival has driven her to want to provide others who are ill with access to comprehensive treatment, hoping to save more lives like her own. Backed by the slogan, “Health Care is a Human Right,” Ryan Lewis and Macklemore are stepping up in full support as the first donors of the 30/30 Project.
The first goal of the 30/30 Project is to create a health center in the Southern Region of Malawi known as the Neno District. They want the building to stand strong for at least 30 years. Although they plan to build health care centers worldwide, Malawi was chosen because of the fact that one in 10 adults have HIV or AIDS in the country, while the nearest medical care to the rural Neno District is two hours away on foot. The project aims to create a health center that possesses the knowledge and treatment management necessary for life threatening diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
The plan is to bring in Construction for Change to manage the project. The architects will draft a blue print, send a project manager to the site, and local foremen and community workers will be hired to build the health care center. After the structure is built, local health care partners will then begin bringing in doctors, nurses, and other health care providers, offering comprehensive care to the surrounding community of 20,000 people immediately.
Although in 2001, USAID administrator Andrew Natisos stated that the U.S should not waste money on antiretroviral therapy for Africans because they will not take their drugs properly, statistics proved otherwise. In 2001, 70 percent of patients in Sub-Saharan Africa have stayed on track with their treatment. This, along with the survival of Julie Lewis gives hope to the 30/30 Project and the type of treatment success that could come of the health center.
In just 2012, an estimated 40,000-52,000 Malawian deaths were due to AIDS as well as an estimated 70,000-850,000 Malawians were orphaned because of these deaths. As of 2012, 1,100 million people in Malawi live with AIDS. The 30/30 Project aims to reduce these numbers, along with illness overall. Ryan Lewis and Macklemore support the 30/30 Project not only as a way of celebrating Julie Lewis’s survival, but also as a way of making the change they rap about a reality. Perks for donating to the 30/30 Project include T-Shirts, postcards, and posters signed by Ryan Lewis and Macklemore. Not to mention, donors also can have their face showcased on the 30/30 website by sending in a “selfie.”
By Amiya Moretta
Los Angeles Times
Partners In Health