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World AIDS Day 2010

December 1st, 2010 (12:57 am)

Today, Wednesday, December 1, is the twenty-third annual recognition of World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day began in 1988 as a means of raising money and awareness about HIV and AIDS, fighting prejudice against those who are HIV positive or who have AIDS, and improving HIV and AIDS education.

This year's theme is Universal Access and Human Rights. Leaders around the globe acknowledge as fundamental human rights access to HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention, and care. Violations of these rights put marginalized groups at greater risk of contracting HIV and being discriminated against for being HIV-positive or having AIDS.

Although there has been promising news recently about potential preventative medication, it's important to recognize that AIDS hasn't gone away. According to UNAIDS, approximately 33.3 million people are living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. In 2009, as many as 2.6 million people became infected with the virus, and approximately 1.8 million people died from illness and complications related to AIDS.

You can learn more by visiting the World AIDS Campaign page.

What else can you do? Help raise awareness by wearing a red ribbon in memory of the more than 25 million people lost to AIDS since the epidemic began, and in recognition of those living today with HIV. Find activities in your area, including candlelight vigils, art shows, marches, and religious services.

In Houston, City Hall will "go red" at 5:15 p.m. today. (You can find other landmarks across the country and the globe that will also go red by checking Gay Men's Chorus of Houston, Montrose Counseling Center's Sally Huffer, poet Aaron Coleman, KHOU-TV's Alex Sanz, Urban Souls Dancers, and others will participate in a Candlelight Observance from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Tranquility Park (or inside the City Hall Rotunda, in case of rain).

From OutSmart Magazine:

University of Houston's Wellness Center has obtained two 12’ x 12’ sections of the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt as an artful reminder of those lost to HIV/AIDS. Individually crafted quilt panels are hung from the atrium at the UH Campus Recreation and Wellness Center rotunda from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. on December 1. In addition to providing information about HIV and safe sex to students, the UH Health Center offers free HIV testing to students and employees, December 1, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. University of Houston Health Center, Building 525 • 713/743-5151.

AIDS Foundation Houston hosts its annual luncheon commemorating World AIDS Day. The luncheon highlights Camp Hope, an AFH-supported summer camp for children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Longtime Camp Hope counselors Heidi Henrichs, Thom McDaniel, and Lynn Selzer receive the 2010 Shelby Hodge Vision Award, given to outstanding individuals who have dedicated their efforts to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The luncheon also includes a raffle of a two-year lease on a 2011 MINI, donated by Momentum MINI. Celebrity makeup artist Edward Sanchez of Edward Sanchez Cosmetics, and Dr. Carolyn Farb, Houston's "First Lady of Philanthropy," chair the annual event presented by AFH and Chevron Corporation. Benefits AFH. December 1, 11 a.m. Hilton-Americas Houston, Ballroom of the Americas, 1600 Lamar St. •

Theatre New West presents a reading of Larry Kramer's groundbreaking drama, The Normal Heart. Benefits Houston GLBT Community Center. December 1, 7:30 p.m. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Pkwy. • Reservations: 713/522-2204.

Montrose Counseling Center displays its annual Paper Chain of Remembrance in the center's lobby throughout the month of December. The chain is comprised of strips of paper bearing messages of hope and encouragement to those with HIV/AIDS. Additional paper strips are available for anyone wishing to add a link to the chain. December 1–31. The center also sponsors Positively Resilient, a free live stage reading of "stories of love and hate, optimism and regret, bravery and fear, tears and laughter" from local HIV/AIDS survivors. December 2, 7 p.m. GLBT Cultural Center, 1st Floor Community Room, 401 Branard St. •

Bethel Church UCC, an open and affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ, presents its annual Bilingual World AIDS Day Service, December 4, 6 p.m. 1107 N. Shepherd Dr. • 713/861-6670.

Numerous local AIDS service, business, and arts organizations commemorate World AIDS Day 2010 with Fierce Productions' You Better Ask Somebody by Dallas playwright Saleemah Jones, a drama with a little comic relief thrown in for good measure. Students from Alief Hastings High School perform "Seasons of Love" as the opening song. Community partners from supporting agencies will be on hand before, during, and after the show to talk to patrons regarding HIV/AIDS services that are available in the community. (No HIV testing is scheduled at the event.) Tickets for the performance are $20, with all proceeds supporting HIV awareness activities in 2011. December 4, 8 p.m. St. John’s United Methodist Church, 2019 Crawford St.

Finally, GET TESTED! Knowledge is your first weapon in the fight against HIV. In Houston:

Legacy Community Health Services offers free HIV testing at two of their Houston-area clinics: the Westheimer Clinic (215 Westheimer Rd.) conducts testing December 1, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. The Lyons Avenue Health Center (5602 Lyons Ave.) conducts testing December 1, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. •

Montrose Counseling Center offers anonymous and confidential HIV testing. December 1, at 401 Branard St. • • 713/529-0037.

This is my eighteenth annual World AIDS Day newsletter. As always, I dedicate it to the memory of:

Steve R, Don P, Jeff C, John M, Tim R, Pete M

If you own any of the books in the opposite side bar and would like them signed, mail them to:
P.O. Box 924104
Houston, TX 77292
Please include three dollars for return postage. Thank you.

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