Community Groups Join Together to Boost HIV Awareness

Oct. 21, 2009

The MOCHA Center and the Rochester Victory Alliance (formerly the University of Rochester HIV Vaccine Trials Unit) are the lead organizers with more than a dozen community-based organizations that are coming together to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and efforts to develop a vaccine to stop the AIDS pandemic.

A mix of entertainment and information will highlight “Hope Takes Action: A Road to Victory for Rochester,” from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, at Cathedral Hall, located on the fourth floor of the Rochester Auditorium Theatre building, 875 E. Main St. The event is free and open to the public, though capacity is limited and will be on a first-come, first- served basis. Parking behind the building is free, and the theatre is located on the 8/8X bus route.

“HIV is a disease that can be stopped, but it will take all of us to work together: community-based organizations, health service providers and the community. To end the spread of HIV, we must confront it head on and from a place of collaboration and compassion,” said Stephaun C. Clipper, prevention programs manager of MOCHA.

The evening will be full of a wide variety of entertainment – skits, theatrical entertainment, comedy, dance, and music including hip-hop, Latino Gospel/Rap, Gospel, theatrical and jazz. Among the entertainers:

·        JB Brown (Emcee)

·        DJ Papito

·        Big Time & Nathaniel

·        FuturPointe

·        Imagen

·        Jazz ensemble from the Eastman School of Music

·        Miss Sweet Potato Pie

·        The MOCHA All-Stars

·        RAPA (Rochester Association for the Performing Arts)

·        Roc City Chronicles

·        Rochester Theatre Students

·        Szet

·        Voices of Goodwill Baptist Church

The event will also include information about HIV/AIDS, the toll it is taking on the Rochester community and the world, how to prevent spread of the disease, and the importance of vaccine research – and the volunteers who participate in studies – in ultimately ending the pandemic. There will be a slideshow consisting of selections from the more than 6000 AIDS posters from around the world collected by retired University of Rochester physician Edward Atwater, M.D., and now part of the permanent collections in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation in Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester. There will also be a ticket auction for a wide variety of items provided by local community businesses. Food will be provided by Fresh Wise through a donation from Wegmans.

“Rochester has a great history of collaborations, and this is an example of that spirit,” said Jerald Noble, program director, Action for a Better Community/Action Front Center, “by doing something common in an uncommon way.”

More than 20 million people have died from AIDS worldwide, and according to the United Nations, 7,500 more people become infected every single day. Last month, scientists announced the preliminary results of a large study in Thailand that indicate that an experimental vaccine reduced the risk of infection by 31 percent. The results were the most promising yet in work toward an HIV vaccine.

“It has become clear that preventive HIV vaccine research is a complex process and we will certainly be making the most of every clue that the Thai trial provides,” said Michael Keefer, M.D., professor of Medicine and principal investigator of the Rochester Victory Alliance.

Additional groups sponsoring the event include the Seattle-based HIV Vaccine Trials Network Legacy Project, Action for a Better Community, AIDS Community Health Center, AIDS Rochester, Al Sigl Center, the Bachelor Forum, Black Leadership Commission on AIDS-Rochester Affiliate, Black Men Latino Men Health Crisis, Developmental Center for AIDS Research at the University of Rochester, Empire State College, Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, Huther-Doyle, McCree McCuller Wellness Center, New York State Department of Health Western Region HIV Program, Rochester Area Task Force on AIDS, Tawa Pano Unity Fellowship Church, and VisitRochester.

For more information about the event, call Stephaun Clipper of MOCHA at (585) 420-1400, extension 14, or the Rochester Victory Alliance at (585) 756-2329.