Pictured Grisel Robles
In 1998, Grisel Robles was a junior at DePaul University, leading other students on a city tour called 'The Diverse Faces of AIDS.' The experience shaped the course of her career; Robles is now the policy associate for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Six years after first discussing the epidemic in front of a class, she will find herself back in the spotlight—this time on stage. On Feb. 18, Robles will join more than 35 other women as a cast member in the benefit production of Eve Ensler's play, The Vagina Monologues at The Park West.
The fundraiser is part of V-DAY, a worldwide movement to stop violence against women and girls. Proceeds from V-DAY Chicago 2004 will benefit the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Southwest Women Working Together.
'V-DAY is an important way to increase awareness of microbicides and the critical role they play in women's health,' says Robles. 'Microbicides' refers to a range of products that would prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Robles has worked on the 'Beyond Latex' campaign since 2001, visiting health organizations in Chicago and throughout the Midwest to raise awareness of the new type of HIV prevention. According to Robles, microbicides would provide women in abusive relationships the ability to protect themselves from STDs when they cannot negotiate condom use.
As the only microbicide educator in the Midwest, Robles depends on proceeds from events like V-DAY to cover campaign expenses. 'We're at least five years away from getting microbicides on the shelves. The more people who know about them, the more demand there will be, and the faster we'll get this important tool in the hands of those who need it.'
For more information on microbicides and V-DAY Chicago 2004, call (312) 922-2322 or visit www.aidschicago.org .
Mary Morten is producing the Park West event.
C.C. Carter is also putting together a local cast for a March 6 Vagina Monologues production, V-Day Chicago South-West 2004, at the DuSable Museum.
The three organizations that will benefit from this performance are: Affinity Community Services, Amigas Latinas and The Women's Un/Divided Collaborative.