Actor Jay Ellis and Artist Shantell Martin Team with AmfAR to Raise Awareness For “Countdown to a Cure for AIDS”

Jay Ellis and Visual Artist Shanell Martin with AmfAR Towel
Jay Ellis and Visual Artist Shanell Martin with “Be Epic, Cure AIDS,” Limited Edition AmfAR towel

My first memory of being directly affected by the death of someone who lost their life to AIDS was when tennis legend Arthur Ashe died. My father broke the news to me. It was one of those unshakeable things — nearly impossible to process and even harder to understand. In a lot of ways it hit my Dad pretty hard.  My parents had gone to college at UCLA with Arthur and growing up in our household, they made sure we knew he was way more than an incredible tennis player… he was an activist that paved the way for so many.  He was “a great kind guy,” their classmate and hero.

Arthur had certainly had his health challenges… but athletic superheroes weren’t supposed to succumb to an incurable disease at 49.  It was unfathomable.  The news of his death hit over twenty-two years ago… and sadly we still do not have a cure for a disease that affects the black community (Africans & African- Americans) the most.  Statistically, we make up more than forty percent of all new cases… and Jay Ellis (“The Game”) and famed British visual artist, Shantell Martin, know its time to do something about that. Their collaboration with amfAR (the Foundation for AIDS Research) and its “Countdown to A Cure for AIDS” initiative is something I can really get behind.

Out of this amfAR collaboration comes a limited edition beach towel. Designed exclusively for amfAR to help raise awareness and find a cure for HIV/AIDS, the towel’s design features Martin’s black & white illustrations and the inscription, “Be Epic, Cure AIDS,” a nod to amfAR’s “Countdown to a Cure for AIDS” initiative, aimed at developing the scientific basis of a cure by 2020.


This summer, I can’t think of a better accessory. This towel is exclusively sold at Scoop NYC locations and on amfAR’s website: for $40 with 100% of the proceeds supporting research to find a cure for HIV/AIDS. Let’s all do what we can.

Did you know:

  • Nearly 37 million people are now living with HIV. 2.6 million are under the age of 15.
  • In 2014, an estimated 2 million people were newly infected with HIV.
  • 220,000 were under the age of 15.
  • Every day about 5,600 people contract HIV—more than 230 every hour.
  • In 2014, 1.2 million people died from AIDS.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 78 million people have contracted HIV and close to 39 million have died of AIDS- related causes.
  • As of March 2015, around 15 million people living with HIV (41% of the total) had access to antiretroviral therapy.

Learn more about amfAR here:  If you don’t know her work already, find out more about Shantell Martin and her amazing art:

And Jay Ellis and his fascinating transition into the acting world:

Lesa Lakin GBN Lifestyle Editor
article by Lesa Lakin
GBN Lifestyle Editor

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