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'Project Runway' Designer in San Francisco to Educate About Living with HIV and Combat Stigma Associated with the Disease

Jack Mackenroth to kick off 2009 Living Positive By Design local tour at largest Academy Awards(R) party outside Hollywood

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Jack Mackenroth, from the hit reality television series "Project Runway," is visiting San Francisco for the Academy of Friends' annual Academy Awards Night Gala, representing Living Positive By Design, his national HIV and AIDS education initiative. The Living Positive By Design campaign, a major sponsor of the Gala, seeks to help combat the stigma associated with HIV by engaging people in thoughtful conversation about the disease and is being supported by Merck & Co., Inc. At the Gala, which benefits 12 local Bay Area HIV and AIDS service organizations, Jack will unveil a new series of Living Positive By Design video vignettes that he has created to garner support for the goals of the program as well as provide on-site commentary on the celebrity fashions from the awards show. The Gala event is being held on Sunday, February 22, 2009 at Fort Mason.

"I am excited to bring Living Positive By Design to San Francisco in partnership with the Academy of Friends, an organization committed to improving the lives of people living with HIV," said Mackenroth. "Through Living Positive By Design, I have been speaking about my experiences living with HIV for more than 20 years, addressing the stigma still associated with the disease and highlighting the importance for people living with HIV to have a positive outlook on life while effectively managing their disease."

In addition to Jack, local HIV specialist Lisa Capaldini, M.D. of Castro Medical will also be available the weekend of the Gala to discuss the current and future landscape of HIV and AIDS treatment and research.

"One of the goals of Living Positive By Design is to educate people living with HIV that taking medications to help reduce the amount of virus in the blood to undetectable levels and helping to restore their immune system must be some of the priorities for today's disease management," said Dr. Capaldini. "In addition to this, with new advancements in HIV treatment, physicians should also factor in the tolerability of treatment regimens."

In 2008, Jack held Living Positive By Design events in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the 2008 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA); in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Atlanta AIDS Walk; and in New York, New York, at the Gay Men's Health Crisis' (GMHC) annual Fashion Forward fundraiser. He will continue to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS through events in additional cities, including Houston, Texas. For more information on Living Positive By Design and participating cities, please visit:

Prevalence of HIV and AIDS

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one million Americans are living with HIV and AIDS in the U.S. and approximately 55,000 new people become infected every year. In 2006, 50 percent of new diagnoses were among men who have sex with men (MSM). The state of California has the second highest number of reported AIDS cases compared to any other state in the U.S. At the end of 2007, 15,470 San Francisco residents were living with HIV or AIDS.

About Merck

Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck currently discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines to address unmet medical needs. The Company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit

About the Academy of Friends

The Academy of Friends (AOF) ( is one of the largest contributors to HIV and AIDS service organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, and aims to raise funds, award donations and encourage volunteerism to benefit these groups. Through hosting the world's premier, annual Academy Awards Night Gala and other monthly events, AOF has raised over seven million dollars to date to support nearly 70 organizations.

Forward-looking statement

This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on management's current expectations and involve risks and uncertainties, which may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. The forward-looking statements may include statements regarding product development, product potential or financial performance. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed and actual results may differ materially from those projected. Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect Merck's business, particularly those mentioned in the risk factors and cautionary statements in Item 1A of Merck's Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2007, and in any risk factors or cautionary statements contained in the Company's periodic reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K, which the Company incorporates by reference.

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SOURCE Living Positive By Design
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