Pictured At the World AIDS Day event at the Chicago Cultural Center. LEFT: Ida Byther-Smith, HIV survivor. MIDDLE: Michael Reese HIV educational group receiving an award from John Wilhelm, CDPH Commissioner ( left ) . RIGHT: Rev. Marshall Hatch. Photos by Andrew Davis
Informative exhibits, powerful speakers, and imaginative performances helped mark the first 'united' World AIDS Day event, held in the Sydney Yates Gallery of the Chicago Cultural Center, 75 E. Randolph, Dec. 1.
World AIDS Day is commemorated worldwide on Dec. 1 to note the progress made in the battle against the pandemic and to illuminate the challenges that remain. The event at the center was the first time in the city's history that all of Chicago's AIDS coalitions came together for an event.
This year's theme was 'Women, Girls, HIV & AIDS.' Globally, the statistics are sobering and even shocking. Women and girls are 2.5 times more likely to be HIV-infected than their male counterparts, due to factors such as a lack of access to educational and prevention services. Close of half of the 37.2 million adults living with HIV are women, according to a new UNAIDS/World Health Organization report. In Chicago, 3,828 women currently live with HIV and AIDS. Women now make up 19 percent of all persons who live with AIDS; a decade ago, women accounted for 14 percent of those individuals.
The event was divided into afternoon and evening programs. The earlier program included the NAMES Project Quilt exhibit, a Faces of AIDS display, and a presentation of OraQuick's Rapid HIV testing kit. There were also more than 50 exhibitors that dispensed information and various items, including condoms; some of these groups included Bonaventure House, Chicago Women's AIDS Project, Vital Bridges, and Test Positive Aware Network.
CBS 2 Chicago reporter Dana Kozlov hosted the evening portion of the event. It featured performances from the Chicago Children's Choir and performance group Imani Nia; award presentations to Peggy Finnegan, Community Outreach Intervention Projects and Michael Reese Hospital's HIV Care Program; and a keynote speech from Rev. Marshall Hatch, a close associate of the Rev. Jesse Jackson—who had been scheduled to speak but had not confirmed.