World AIDS Day Events in Rhode Island

As we approach the holiday hustle and bustle, bright lights, celebrations and ways to remember people in need surround us. For those of us working in the field of HIV/AIDS, the season begins with a national day of awareness that this battle still continues.

Join the Rhode Island HIV Prevention Coalition at 12:00pm on Monday, December 1, 2014 in the stateroom on Capitol Hill, where we will hear from Governor Lincoln Chafee, Representative Christopher Blazejewski, and:

Dr. Amy Nunn–an Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the Brown University School of Public Health. She is also the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Public Health Institute (RIPHI), which is dedicated to reducing health disparities in Rhode Island and beyond. Dr. Nunn is best known for her innovative community partnerships to address health disparities, including engaging African American clergy and community leaders in HIV and HCV testing, treatment and social marketing campaigns. Dr. Nunn received the “Outstanding New Researcher Award” at the 2009 CDC HIV Prevention Conference and an NIH Career Development Award in 2010. Her community-based research and public health programs have been profiled by CNN, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, public radio, and other prominent media outlets. She is a native Arkansan, holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the Harvard School of Public Health, and is former Fulbright Scholar. Dr. Nunn speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese and has also lived and worked extensively in Latin America. She is the proud mother of two children, Agustin and Valentina.

Josh Kilby–a healthcare worker and Queer activist living (and organizing) in Providence. He has recently gone on PrEP (pre exposure prophylaxis).

Brandon Fernandes—an advocate for the LGBT community for more than five years. He has worked for various nonprofit organizations teaching safer sex and HIV prevention to youth and adults in the LGBT community as well as at the local youth centers. Brandon shares his positive attitude throughout his work. He is passionate about the importance of safer-sex education for youth and relaying messages in an engaging, genuine way.

As of 2012, we have lost over 1,591 Rhode Islanders to this epidemic. Although, our rates of infection have decreased over the last 30 years, there were still 74 new cases of HIV in 2013- 74 cases too many. With the RI Department of Health’s tremendous efforts for increased testing, this number has surely increased for 2014. Unfortunately, primary prevention is still largely underfunded and should be considered a valuable piece to prevention if we are to truly get to zero.

According to Kristen Pfeiffer, MSW, project director at The Miriam Hospital, “In RI, rates of STDs like gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise in huge way, which can increase the likelihood of HIV infection. There needs to be more awareness and more dollars invested in primary prevention, education and testing. Prevention is a multi-layered approach, where each layer is as valuable as the next.”

“Comprehensive sexuality education is the key to preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, said Pierrette Silverman, Vice President, Education & Training, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “Health care providers and educators must continue to provide medically accurate and age-appropriate sexual health education; we also need to provide skill building on the proper use of condoms and other safer sex methods so that those who chose to engage in sexual activity are knowledgeable and protected.”

Helen MacDonald, youth advocate from Sojourner House, said, “HIV/AIDS is more than an individual’s illness; it’s a community concern, and it often impacts the communities that are already disproportionately marginalized and disenfranchised. When we stop talking about HIV/AIDS as a personal responsibility, but rather as an issue that demands community level engagement, we will be able to reduce transmission, increase access to healthcare for those living with the disease, and improve the well-being of our neighborhoods, our cities, and our state.”

Dr. Philip A. Chan, an HIV doctor at the Miriam Hospital shared with us, “HIV affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone should be tested at least once and annually if sexually active. Together, we can help prevent HIV and get to zero new cases in the states!”

HIV/AIDS is still a serious disease. We have made tremendous strides in treatment but we have yet to find a cure. Help us- Join the fight!

The following events are free and open to the public:

RISD Recognizes World AIDS Day 2014
November 17, 2014 through December 5, 2014
Fleet Library, Mandle Building, 15 Westminster St., Providence
4 panels from the National AIDS Quilts
For more information: Visit: events.risd.edu or contact: Intercultural Student Engagement (ise@risd.edu or 401.277.4957)

Rhode Island World AIDS Day Statehouse Event
Monday, December 1, 2013, 12:00 noon
Rhode Island Statehouse
Featured Speakers: Governor Lincoln Chafee, Representative Christopher Blazejewski, Dr. Amy Nunn, Josh Kilby, Brandon Fernandes
Sponsored by Rhode Island Coalition for HIV Prevention
Contact Person: Kristen Pfeiffer, MSW; kpfeiffer@lifespan.org

A Night of Sonnet and Song
Monday, December 1, 2014, Doors open at 5:30pm
St. Anne’s Art and Cultural Center
84 Cumberland Street, Woonsocket, RI 02895
Sponsored by The Agape Center of Community Care Alliance and Thundermist Health Center, Contact: lcohen@famresri.org

Alternate Endings: The Ongoing HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Featuring videos by 7 artists/collaborates
Monday, December 1, 2014, 8pm
Free (suggested $5 donation)
AS220 Black Box Theatre
95 Empire Street, Providence
Sponsored by: Visual AIDS and Headmaster Magazine

Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation
Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 7-8:30pm
URI Alumni Center
73 Upper College Road, Kingston, RI
Parking off Fortin Road at rear of center
Sponsored by: AIDS Quilt RI, Anna’s Workshop, URI Public Relations Strategies Class