Metro Weekly

Celebrating Survival: A rundown of World AIDS Day events

Local organizations commemorate those lost to HIV, and those living with the virus, as part of World AIDS Day.

Many organizations in D.C. will honor World AIDS Day on Friday, Dec. 1, to commemorate the devastating impact that HIV has had since its discovery in 1983.

Events start the night before, Thursday, Nov. 30, when the Women’s Collective hosts its “Shades of Blue” fashion show at Busboys and Poets, 1025 5th St. NW. Featuring 14 models clad in blue, it’s intended to increase awareness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) as prevention tools. “It’s important for women to know about PrEP,” says Crissy Taylor, youth program coordinator with the Women’s Collective. “It’s often thought to be prescribed just for gay men. But African-American women are at risk as well.”

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, meanwhile, will hold a screening of the movie How to Survive a Plague at 6:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with health experts. The museum is located at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.

On Friday, Dec. 1, at 8:45 a.m., Whitman-Walker Health will hold its second annual Community Breakfast and Gathering at the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center, 2730 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE. Attendees can participate in a community art-making activity honoring those who lost their lives to, or are still living with, HIV.

“It’s in the spirit of the AIDS Memorial Quilt,” says Josh Riley, WWH’s director of community commitment. “People will have the opportunity to create their own small tribute, using all kinds of different materials.”

Throughout the day, Whitman-Walker will offer HIV testing at its 1525 Center (1525 14th St. NW) and its Max Robinson Center (2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE), as well as outside the Anacostia Metro Station via its mobile van unit.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Serve DC, along with the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs and The DC Center, will host the District’s annual Red Carnation Affair at the Reeves Center, 2000 14th St. NW. Following remarks by Mayor Muriel Bowser, attendees will take part in service projects, such as packing safe-sex kits and creating emergency preparedness care packages. The event will feature remarks by singer Raheem DeVaughn, whose LoveLife Foundation is engaged in HIV prevention efforts, and by Dr. Goulda Downer of Howard University’s College of Medicine. Various organizations, including Casa Ruby, Us Helping Us, Whitman-Walker, and the Women’s Collective, will have volunteers present and give talks about the services they offer.

Us Helping Us hosts informational sessions on HIV and PrEP at the University of the District of Columbia’s Student Center, on the second floor of 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW. The organization will also offer HIV and STI testing at its offices in D.C. at 3636 Georgia Ave. NW and at 8240 Professional Place, Suite 207B, in Landover, Md.

“One of the things we’re trying to accomplish is getting individuals to go through comprehensive health screenings,” says Marteniz Brown, UHU’s manager of prevention programs. “If you do that, you can normalize HIV, so it’s not seen as this taboo subject.”

That evening, the Alexandria Health Department and Commission on HIV/AIDS will hold its annual HIV/AIDS Service Awards Reception at the Church of St. Clement, 1701 N. Quaker Lane in Alexandria. The event honors Khadijah Abdullah, executive director of Reaching All HIV+ Muslims in America. Finally, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation will host a cocktail reception and artist showcase at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, at 1333 H St. NE. Admission is free with the donation of a new toy to Heart to Hand, Inc., or a canned food item to Damien Ministries. Following the artist showcase, Impulse DC will present a Glow Paint Party at Studio 52, at 1508 Okie St. NE, from 9 p.m. to midnight, where attendees will be asked to create art or inspiring messages around HIV treatment and prevention. You can even choose to paint on one of several human models, who will offer their bodies as canvasses.

For a comprehensive listing of all World AIDS Day events, visit the D.C. Department of Health’s website at doh.dc.gov.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com