Travis McCoy, Lead Vocalist & Songwriter of Alternative Hip Hop Band Gym Class Heroes, Travels to South Africa, Philippines and India as MTV International's 2009 Staying Alive Foundation Ambassador

Jun 11, 2009
By ViacomCBS Staff

Travis McCoy, lead vocalist & songwriter of Gym Class Heroes and MTV Staying Alive Special Ambassador today joined Georgia Arnold, Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility, MTV Networks International and Executive Director, Staying Alive Foundation, to announce plans to travel to South Africa, the Philippines and India to raise awareness about youth driven HIV and AIDS prevention initiatives.

The ambitious journey, taking place between 13-24 June 2009, will include visits to a number of grassroots HIV prevention projects in South Africa, the Philippines and India all of whom are the 2009 recipients of the Staying Alive Foundation Awards.

McCoy's journey will take him to Cape Town, South Africa on June 15 and 16, in Manila, the Philippines on June 19-20 and in Mumbai, India on June 19-20.

As part of the trip, McCoy will be writing a new single inspired by his travels and those he meets along the way for release on December 1st, World AIDS Day.

McCoy has also set up a dedicated website for the trip, where fans can share his experiences as he moves from one country to another.

They will be able to hear first hand the facts and stories direct from the young people he meets on his journey including from those running the grass-roots HIV and AIDS prevention projects in their respective countries.

Fans will be given the opportunity to submit lyrics to McCoy's track and compete to have their creative ideas used for the track artwork. McCoy will also post daily updates of his trip on Twitter.

Commented McCoy: "It's an honor for me to be the Ambassador for the Staying Alive Foundation - it's a cause that's very close to me. Having lost loved ones and seeing the toll it takes on people affected including the people that love and care for them, it's important we do whatever can within our power to fight this deadly and rapidly spreading epidemic. I strongly feel the best cure we have at this point is increasing education and building awareness. It's how we use this information in the choices we make that will determine whether or not our generation will help make a change or ultimately make things worse. I believe that "each one should teach one", and if my influence on my peers and young ones that look up to me can help decide what music to listen to or what clothes to wear, I hope and pray it will help them to decide to be safe and take their life seriously."

McCoy, singer, rapper, songwriter, is one of the most dynamic, eye-catching and talented personalities in popular music today. He is the lead vocalist and frontman of alternative hip-hop group Gym Class Heroes, formed when childhood friends McCoy and drummer Matt McGinley decided to start a band in upstate New York over a decade ago. A former art school student who is a self-confessed sneaker collector, with over 200 pairs to date, he made his MTV debut in the summer of 2002 as part of the nationwide MC Battle held on MTV's show Direct Effect.

Commented Georgia Arnold, Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility, MTV Networks International and Executive Director, Staying Alive Foundation:

"We are delighted to have Travis McCoy as our Staying Alive Foundation Ambassador. He is set to be a fantastic male role model, inspiring and spreading positive messages to young men the world over. The incredible youth-driven HIV prevention initiatives that he represents, and will visit, are essential to fighting this epidemic, especially given that an estimated 45% of HIV infections worldwide occur among young people aged 15-24."

MTV's Staying Alive Foundation Awards are presented twice a year to individuals or groups who are relentless in their mission to encourage, educate and empower their peers in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Each Staying Alive Grant recipient receives a cash grant from the Staying Alive Foundation to enable them to realise a project associated with raising the awareness about HIV/AIDS.

The three recipients of the 2009 Staying Alive Foundation Awards that Travis will be meeting are:

Bulelani Mvotho, Snapshot Mobile Cinema, Khayelitsha, Cape Town.Bulelani, a young man in his twenties founded 'Snapshot Mobile Cinema' in 2005. He had been involved with local NGOs for several years prior to this (Treatment Action Campaign) but decided that in order to make the change, he needed to be the change. With Snapshot Mobile Cinema, he does this through making films and documentaries that educate and entertain young people, as well as motivating them to become engaged in the fight against Crime, HIV/AIDS and Rape. The Staying Alive Foundation gave Snapshot their first grant in 2007, and they will continue to be funded by SAF until June 2011.

Mandakini Behara, Utkal Network of People Living with HIV, Cuttack, Orissa State, India. The Staying Alive Foundation gave Utkal Network of People Living with HIV (UNP+) their first grant in December 2008. UNP+ was formed in 2006 by 5 HIV positive people with the aims of reducing stigma and discrimination, and to promote and protect the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV).

Alex Sarza, Dolores Matias, BALUTI Project (Protect the Child from Infection), Barangay, Manila. BALUTI is an acronym for "Batang Laging Umiiwas sa Tiyak na Impeksyon," which means "Protect the Children from Infection". The Tagalog word "baluti" means "shield," as the group works to prevent sexual irresponsibility among their peers. BALUTI are a group of 20 sexually active youth who have been trained by Save the Children and the Paranaque City Health Office as peer educators. The Staying Alive Foundation awarded them their first grant in June 2008 and has just awarded them a second grant.

Notes to Editors:

Global Statistics on HIV and AIDS

-- There is an estimated 33 million people living with HIV (30 million-36 million)

-- 2.7 million people are infected with HIV annually

-- An estimated 50% of those 33 million are women (although this % increases dramatically in sub-saharan Africa)

-- Young people ages 15-24 account for an estimated 45% of HIV infections worldwide

-- 6,000 young people, ages 16-24, are infected with HIV everyday

-- Every minute, five people die from AIDS

-- More than 25 million people have died from HIV from 1981

-- For every two people put on treatment, five people become newly infected with HIV

South Africa

-- 5.7 million people are living with HIV in South Africa, 2/3's of which are women.

-- 28% of pregnant women are living with HIV

-- 280,000 children below the age of 15 are living with HIV

-- There are an estimated 1,000 deaths every day due to AIDS: 71% of all deaths of 15-49 yr olds are due to AIDS!


-- 2.31 million people are living with HIV in India

-- 39% of these 2.31 million are females

-- 3.5% of these 2.31 million are children

-- Infections are mainly prevalent amongst IDUs, men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients


-- 8,300 people are living with HIV in the Philippines

-- Only 0.1% of people aged 15-49


Founded in 1994, The MTV Staying Alive Foundation is a global public charity operating in affiliation with MTV Networks International. Its mission is to empower and support young people who are protecting themselves and their communities against HIV and AIDS. The Foundation donates money and provides grants to youth-led initiatives committed to educating their peers about HIV and AIDS. It is dedicated to fighting stigma and discrimination and empowering young people to protect themselves against the disease. For more information log onto

About MTV Networks International:

MTV Networks International, a division of Viacom, Inc., includes the premier multimedia entertainment brands MTV: Music Television, VH1, Nickelodeon, TMF (The Music Factory), VIVA, Flux, Paramount Comedy, Comedy Central, Game One, Neopets, GameTrailers, Shockwave, Addicting Games, Atom Films and Xfire. MTV Networks' brands are seen globally in 578 million households, in 162 countries and 33 languages via 166 locally programmed and operated TV channels and more than 350 digital media properties. The company's diverse holdings also include interests in television syndication, digital media, publishing, home video, radio, recorded music, licensing & merchandising and two feature film divisions, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies. MTV Networks is a unit of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B).

Seema Alibhai, +44-207-478-6531,
or Amanda Willard, +44-207-478-6507,, both of MTVNI
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