Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week: AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, a public-interest law firm providing free legal assistance to people with HIV/AIDS and those affected by the epidemic.
AIDS Law Project’s Messapotamia Lefae and Ronda Goldfein.
Who are you? My name is Messapotamia Lefae and I work as the administrative assistant to Ronda Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania (ALP).
When was AIDS Law Project founded? In 1988 to focus on AIDS-related discrimination cases. At that time, no laws protected people with HIV/AIDS from discrimination.
What services does ALP provide? Our office handles civil litigation matters over a wide range of practice areas, including AIDS-related discrimination, confidentiality, HIV testing policies, public benefits (including Social Security disability benefits, Medicaid, Medicare and welfare benefits), private health benefits and insurance coverage, housing advocacy, medical-related debt, wills, living wills and powers of attorney, and immigration. We educate the public about AIDS-related legal issues, train case management professionals to become better advocates for their HIV-positive clients, and we work at local, state and national levels to achieve fair laws and policies. Our senior lawyers have distinguished themselves such that policymakers, health care providers, and educators and other attorneys consult them for advice and technical assistance.
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Local AIDS-fighting nonprofit Philadelphia FIGHT announced today that Harlem-born songstress Teyana Taylor will perform at the third annual Hip Hop for Philly concert on June 27th at the Trocadero Theater. The concert is free and open to youth aged 13 to 24 who receive a free HIV test at a handful of participating agencies (see those below).
Taylor just released her first studio album, VII, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart last November. She is signed to Kanye West‘s G.O.O.D. Music label, and was featured on his recent single “Dark Fantasy.” You may also recognize her from her roles in Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family. Other acts scheduled to perform at the concert include dance troupe Project Positive, and rapper E-Hos.
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Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week: AIDS Fund, whose “mission is to raise awareness about the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic in our communities and to provide funds to HIV/AIDS service providers.”
AIDS Fund Executive Director Robb Reichard
Who are you? Robb Reichard, executive director of AIDS Fund
When was AIDS Fund founded? AIDS Fund’s roots go back to 1987, when the first AIDS Walk in Philadelphia was produced by Penguin Place, the predecessor of the William Way Community Center. We were incorporated as an independent organization two years later.
The organization’s shining moment, to date? In 2011, to mark the 30th year of the epidemic, and the 25th annual AIDS Walk Philly, we produced “1981 – Until It’s Over … ” a multimedia exhibit of the local history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It was very rewarding to present both the struggles and advances we have experienced as a community. The positive responses we received from individuals who were a part of that history were particularly gratifying. The project then took on a life of its own with the development of the “1981-Until It’s Over … ” Timeline, a walk through history of the AIDS epidemic. We display The Timeline at community events and at high schools, colleges and universities throughout the region.
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Orange is the New Black memoirist Piper Kerman will speak at Philly’s first End AIDS 2015 Conference. | Shutterstock.com
Philly HIV/AIDS nonprofit Philadelphia FIGHT has released the itinerary for its 21st annual AIDS Education Month (AEM). Taking place throughout June, the schedule includes all kinds of parties, panels and workshops geared toward increasing local awareness, and sharing up-to-date information about how to prevent and treat HIV.
The big news surrounding the monthlong event is the brand new End AIDS 2015 Conference, which effectively combines three AEM events: the HIV Prevention and Outreach Summit, the Prison Health Care and Reentry Summit, and the Faith Leaders and Community Summit. The conference will include 65 workshops and a plethora of speakers—perhaps the most notable of which is Piper Kerman, prison-reform activist and author of the memoir that birthed Netflix series Orange is the New Black.
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You’ve likely seen the lists recognizing the hard-earned (but usually warranted) accomplishments of young folks, whether its “30 under 30,” or the even more head-slapping “25 under 25,” but it’s not too often that we see similar lists recognizing the work of older folks. Maybe “60 under 60” seems like too daunting of a task, but SeniorLAW Center, a local nonprofit working to protect the legal rights and interests of the elderly, is making it simpler and giving it a shot in their brand new “6 Over 60” Awards.
The awards will be handed out next Thursday, May 14th, at a gala in the Crystal Tea Room of the Wanamaker Building. The honorees include a handful of senior go-getters who have done everything from advocate for kids and public education to serve on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and, in the interest of our readers, fight for the rights of the LGBT and AIDS communities. The fellow being honored in that latter category is David Fair (pictured).
Fair has been working since the 1970s to carve out a safe space for Philadelphia’s LGBT community, with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS victims and the homeless. He founded the Philadelphia Gay Cultural Festival in the 1970s, the Philadelphia Lesbian and Gay Task Force in the ’80s, and, in the early-’90s, We the People Living With AIDS/HIV. More on the impact of those groups and his other accomplishments from SeniorLAW:
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The Attic Youth Center
255 South 16th Street
The Attic creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community, and promotes the acceptance of LGBTQ youth in society. It “offers various support and educational groups that promote safer sex messages and practices. The Attic also offers free, confidential, HIV testing and access to safer sex supplies.”
AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania
1211 Chestnut Street, Suite 600
Founded in 1988, this nonprofit law firm provides free legal help to those with HIV/AIDS and those affected by the epidemic. AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania provides legal assistance with HIV/AIDS discrimination, health confidentiality, HIV testing protocols, housing, and more, with an emphasis on “breaking the physical and linguistic barriers that often impede access to legal services.”
1216 Arch Street, 6th Floor
ActionAIDS provides medical case management, HIV testing, prevention education, supportive housing, HIV treatment as prevention, and volunteer services so that no one in the Philadelphia region has to face AIDS alone.
Bebashi-Transition of Hope
1217 Spring Garden Street
Bebashi-Transition of Hope works to provide healthcare information, direct services, education, research and technical assistance to reduce and eliminate HIV/AIDS and other health disparities within the urban community of Philadelphia and its vicinity.
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A men’s magazine out of Germany called Vangardist has printed the cover of its latest issue with ink infused with HIV-positive blood. The point of their decision is to combat the stigma associated with the disease.
“If you’re holding the ‘infected’ print edition in your hands right now, you’ll get into contact with HIV like never before … It will make you reflect on HIV and you will think differently afterward. Because now the issue is in your hands,” writes Vangardist publisher and CEO Julian Wiehl in a forward to the special edition, the front of which is emblazoned with the words “This magazine has been printed with the blood of HIV+ people.”
Canoe has more:
Vangardist printed 3,000 special edition copies with the blood donated by three HIV-positive people, but it assures readers that handling the magazine poses no risk of infection. …
“We believe that as a lifestyle magazine it is our responsibility to address the issues shaping society today,” publisher and CEO Julian Wiehl said in a press release.
“With 80% more confirmed cases of HIV being recorded in 2013 than 10 years previously, and an estimated 50% of HIV cases being detected late due to lack of testing caused by social stigma associated with the virus, this felt like a very relevant issue for us to focus on not just editorially but also from a broader communications standpoint,” Wiehl said.
The blood was donated by a 26-year-old gay man from Berlin, a recently diagnosed heterosexual man who wished to remain anonymous, and a 45-year-old mother who was infected 20 years ago by her then-husband who didn’t tell her he had HIV, CBS reported.
Pretty powerful message. Read the rest of Canoe’s piece here.
G Philly and I were honored to be included in an event hosted by ActionAIDS yesterday, where community leaders gathered to read aloud 5,000 names of local people (and a few celebrities like Rock Hudson and Liberace), who lost their lives to AIDS. Among those speaking were ActionAIDS Executive Director Kevin Burns, ACLU of PA Executive Director Reggie Shuford, William Way Executive Director Christopher Bartlett. and WXPN host DJ Robert Drake.
A group of about 30 spectators showed up to listen to the touching tribute, despite the fact that it fell on a day winter just so happened to return to Philly. (It was so cold!) We toughed it out though, and I feel comfortable speaking for everyone else when I say we’re damn glad we did. Check out photos from the event below:
The event took place exactly a week from ActionAIDS annual fundraiser Dining Out for Life. If you haven’t made your reservations yet, now’s the time. Check out the full list of restaurants here, and be sure to stop by the Gayborhood, along Locust between 13th and Broad streets, from 11 am to 2:30 pm on April 30th for the DOFL Food Truck roundup.
ActionAIDS‘s 25th annual Dining Out for Life (DOFL) takes place in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley on April 30th, with nearly 200 restaurants and food trucks in the region taking part. If you’re new to the game, this is how it works: On that evening participating restaurants will donate 33 percent of every check to a variety of regional HIV/AIDS service organizations, including ActionAIDS, AIDS Delaware, and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania. DOFL is one of my favorite ways to donate, because it’s such an easy, fun, and delicious way to give to a worthy cause.
Like last year, DOFL will be closing off a block at a yet-to-be-announced location to host a lunchtime food festival of sorts with the participating food trucks. Stay tuned for more information on that.
You can find the complete list of local restaurants participating below, divided into neighborhood/region. Look for your favorite spot, and fire up OpenTable to make reservations. Tables fill up fast.
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GALAEI’s new home at 149 West Susquehanna Avenue. | Photo from Google Street View.
Later this spring, GALAEI, the only organization for Philly (and all of Pennsylvania)’s gay and lesbian Latino community, will move from its digs on Chestnut Street in the Gayborhood to a new space in North Philadelphia. The new location was the former home of the Norris Square Civic Association and, according to Executive Director Elicia Gonzales, it will situate them in an area that will allow them to reach more of the nonprofit’s constituents.
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