AIDS Education Month Kicks Off

Philadelphia FIGHT hosts seven events in June

Philadelphia FIGHT celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. And starting today the local organization kicks off AIDS Education Month with seven events to help prevent the spread of HIV, educate people about how they can be safe, and honor those people who have made an impact in the fight against AIDS in Philly.

“For the first time in a long time, the HIV/AIDS community has begun to speak of an end to this epidemic,” says FIGHT’s Executive Director Jane Shull in the organization’s annual report. “We at Philadelphia FIGHT are proud to have been a part of the 30-year effort that has led to these developments.”

She cites both advances in treatment and also education and prevention for this new, potentially more hopeful era, even though many Philadelphians may unknowingly be infected with the virus and risk complications without testing and treatment. According to FIGHT, there are nearly 40,000 men and women living with HIV in Philly. And one in five don’t know they’re infected.

One of the efforts FIGHT engages this month is to encourage people to get tested, setting up testing locations in all corners of the city – from Gray’s Ferry to the Northeast. There are several events planned during the next 30 days to inspire people to get involved and protect themselves. “This year’s focus is on HIV testing with the collaboration of Mayor Nutter,” explains Mark Seaman, FIGHT’s director of development and communications. “We will be airing a new public service announcement throughout June on NBC10.”

During the opening event tonight, the annual Kiyoshi Kuromiya Awards are being presented to several Philadelphians who have made strides in the fight against HIV and AIDS, including Jay Blahnik of the House of Blahnik, Dr. Debra D’Aquilante with the Philadelphia Prison System, and Gloria Casarez, the LGBT affairs director with the City of Philadelphia.

“Mayor Nutter is attending tonight’s opening,” says Seaman, “along with several members of city council, state senators and representatives.”

Here’s a complete list of events:

June 1: The Opening Reception (5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Independence Visitor Center)

June 4: 5th Annual Youth Outreach, Education and Empowerment Summit (11 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center)

June 21: Behind the Walls: Prison Healthcare and Reentry Summit (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center)

June 25: AIDS Education Month Community Cookout (11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Fairmount Park Area One)

June 27: National HIV Testing Day (a complete list of locations are listed here)

June 28: Movements for Change (5-9 p.m. at Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany)

Here, Philadelphia FIGHT talks to real Philadelphians living with HIV and AIDS:

We Remember from Philadelphia FIGHT on Vimeo.