Children Affected by AIDS Foundation

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The Children Affected by AIDS Foundation (CAAF) is devoted to providing social, educational, recreational and other critical support programs to vulnerable children impacted by HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and other countries. CAAF accomplishes its mission to help HIV-impacted children domestically and abroad through four district programs.


The mission of the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation (CAAF) is to make a positive difference in the lives of children infected with HIV and affected by AIDS. CAAF accomplishes this by helping meet their diverse special needs, advocating and educating on their behalf, and bringing joy and fun into their lives.

U.S. Initiatives[edit]

  1. Camp Network - Allow more children affected by AIDS to attend summer camp by making grants, facilitating communication between agencies helping such children to attend a camp, developing new camps, and hosting meetings of camp providers to enhance the experience of children affected by AIDS.
  2. Family Assistance - Families who experience financial hardships as a result of medical bills or other expenses brought on by the impact of HIV/AIDS often request relief from their local social services agencies. The Children Affected by AIDS Foundation awards small grants to these agencies for the immediate use of families.

Latin America and Caribbean Program[edit]

In collaboration with a local partner, the foundation has implemented its Prevention by Intervention initiative in 22 healthcare sites in Guatemala. The initiative is increasing HIV awareness, access to HIV pre and post test counseling for pregnant woman and rapid HIV testing to prevent children from being born with the virus. As a result, Prevention by Intervention is decreasing the rates of mother to child transmission of HIV and, consequently AIDS orphanhood in Guatemala.

After entering the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region in 2005, CAAF has spread throughout the region and touched the lives of more than 28,000 children in 2008. CAAF has worked in Brazil to accelerate adoption procedures and offer legal aid to families adopting AIDS-orphaned children. Food was supplied and psychological support services were provided for Argentinean families affected by AIDS. In Peru, CAAF engaged healthcare workers, families, and children to promote medication adherence, among other programs.

CAAF's international efforts have given funds to 31 nonprofits to support care, stability and well-being of Latin American and Caribbean children who are infected, affected or orphaned by HIV/AIDS.


The Foundation's premiere fundraising effort is Dream Halloween, kid-friendly costume parties held in October in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

What is Dream Halloween? Since 1993, The Children Affected by AIDS Foundation has raised millions through its nationally recognized Dream Halloween special events. These events were created for a very special reason – to provide children with a safe, secure opportunity to enjoy Halloween through an experience that goes far beyond a child’s imagination. The goal of the events is to create an experience that exemplifies what every child would dream of when celebrating Halloween.

Now, Dream Halloween is a unique national awareness and fundraising campaign launched annually in October to expand the efforts of the foundation. Incorporating the signature events with corporate cause marketing efforts, a full media campaign and innovative new fundraising initiatives, Dream Halloween will highlight the unique work of the foundation and provide new opportunities to support the mission of the organization. The nation will be invited to join the campaign and dream…Dream of a day when all children living with HIV/AIDS are living happy and healthy lives. Dream of a day without HIV/AIDS. Dream of a day when all children are safe and free from harm.

Comedy, laughter and hope! This is the foundation for CAAF’s A Night of Comedy annual event. Long time CAAF supporter, Doris Roberts hosts the event and Ray Romano serves as Master of Ceremonies. Past years have seen the likes of comedians such as Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, Sarah Silverman, Drew Carey, Kathy Griffin, George Lopez, Lily Tomlin, Garry Shandling, Wayne Brady, Bryan Callen…the list goes on.

In addition to its major events, the Foundation accepts donations year-round on its Web site and by other means.


Cristina at an event for CAAF in April 2011

As a Mattel, Inc. executive, Joe Cristina’s professional life has centered on children for more than 22 years. In 1993, Joe was faced with a dilemma—his health had been deteriorating due to HIV, he had lost two life partners to AIDS, and he was contemplating a quiet disability leave.

But his boss, Jill Barad (then President of Mattel), proposed instead to Joe that he take a few weeks off to think about what he wanted to do with the rest of his life and trust that his friends and business colleagues would be there to support him. Joe decided to publicly disclose his HIV+ status, and he was overwhelmed by the enormous outpouring of support he received. The response from everyone was the same: “What can I do to help?”

Joe realized that he was being faced with a once in a lifetime opportunity to help make a difference in the world. The encouragement and support that he received from those at Mattel and throughout the children’s industry inspired him. That inspiration, along with an improvement in his health due to the advent of “HIV cocktail therapy”, convinced him to stay at Mattel and find a way to mobilize this network of diverse resources to make a positive difference in the lives of children affected by HIV/AIDS. Hence, the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation was born. Through Joe’s vision and leadership, the Foundation has raised more than $33 million since its inception. In 2007, Joe’s health again began to falter due to the long-term effects of HIV coupled with medication side effects, and it became necessary for him to go on an extended medical leave from Mattel. Joe now focuses all of his time and energy on taking care of his health and continuing to help children affected by HIV/AIDS. Mattel, Inc. continues to provide major funding and support to the Foundation.

Joe Cristina currently serves as the Board Chair for CAAF.


CAAF has a staff of 7 led by President Catherine Brown. The group has its headquarters in Los Angeles and maintains a satellite office in Chicago.

More information[edit]

CAAF Web site