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World AIDS Day Houston Raises Awareness about HIV

Virtual AIDS Foundation Houston event begins at 6 p.m. on December 1.

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Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse hosts this year’s World AIDS Day Houston event.

AIDS Foundation Houston Inc. (AFH) is inviting the world to log on to its virtual World AIDS Day observance on December 1 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets start at $5 and can be purchased at worldaidsdayhouston.org.

Hosted by Ernie Manouse of Houston Public Media, this year’s speakers include Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, former mayor and Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker, Project Runway star Mondo Guerra, and America’s Got Talent finalist Christina Wells. 

Other guest stars include singer and former NSYNC member Lance Bass, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Todrick Hall, and Shangela of HBO’s We’re Here.

“We are proud to have such amazing supporters at this year’s World AIDS Day virtual event,” says Derrick Brown, AFH’s chief development officer. “Buying tickets to our event helps us continue our free HIV and STD testing program, which has been instrumental in helping end this epidemic.”

AFH is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1982 as Texas’ first organization dedicated to HIV prevention, education, and services. It has steadily evolved from a grassroots community agency to a professionally managed human-services organization that provides resources, counseling, case management, food and nutrition assistance, and housing to low-income, men, women, and children living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Besides World AIDS Day, the organization has two other annual signature events: AIDS Walk Houston, and Dining Out for Life.

“We are focused on preventative programs such as MISTR, which offers free online access to PrEP,” Brown says. “And we launched a Let’s Make History HIV/STD testing campaign this year to highlight free testing, PrEP programs, and linkage to care for our community.” 

Based on recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 1.2 million Americans living with HIV, and one in seven don’t know they are infected. Right now, Houston ranks 11th in the country for new HIV transmissions. According to AFH, 26 percent of those new transmissions will be diagnosed as AIDS.

Currently 29,643 Harris County residents are living with HIV. Six out of 10 (or 63 percent) of Harris County adults are either living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. HIV.gov found that in 2018 there were approximately 36,400 new infections in the United States. From 2014 to 2018, the disease predominantly affected Black people at 39.2 percent and Hispanic/Latinx folk at 16.4 percent. 

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a highly effective drug that prevents the user from getting HIV through sex or injection drug use, according to the CDC. For those living with HIV, linkage to care lowers a person’s viral load, which often prevents them from transmitting HIV during sex. 

AFH provides free HIV testing at 6260 Westpark Dr., Suite 100, by appointment. The nonprofit will also set up off-site locations throughout the city through February 2021. For more information or to make an appointment, you can call 832.436.3798 or 832.AFH.PrEP.

“We can only make history if we learn from our past and focus on ending the AIDS epidemic in our future,” Brown says. “We can accomplish the end of HIV in Houston and across the globe if we work together.”

What: Virtual World Aids Day
When: December 1 at 6:00 p.m.
Tickets: worldaidsdayhouston.org

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.

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