Event Recap: 2016 World AIDS Day Luncheon

Cecilia Smith | 12/9/2016, 1:34 p.m.
For years, AIDS Foundation Houston has been a dedicated ally in the fight to eradicate the HIV/AIDs virus, providing invaluable ...
Keynote speakers L to R: Sean Strub, Ernie Manouse, Bill Baldwin

For years, AIDS Foundation Houston has been a dedicated ally in the fight to eradicate the HIV/AIDs virus, providing invaluable services and support for those in the Houston area. On December 5th, the organization continued their push for awareness, bringing the city together for its annual “World AIDS Day Luncheon” with a crowd that included Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, former Mayor Annise Parker and more.

Following a champagne reception the sold-out crowd moved into the ballroom of the Hilton Post Oak as co-chairs Bill Baldwin and Ernie Manouse kept the event moving smoothly. The theme of the afternoon was “Getting to Zero,” a nod to the importance of eliminating new infections, AIDS related deaths and the lingering stigma surrounding the disease, especially in underserved communities that have historically been hit the hardest. Per the United States Census Bureau, “African Americans make up only 13.5% of the U.S. population, yet account for 52% of all new HIV/AIDS cases and 44% of new infections.”

Keynote speaker and HIV activist Sean Strub stressed the importance of fighting inequalities in treatment, institutional racism, homophobia and more. Strub’s book the “Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, AIDS, Sex and Survival” reasons that “many movements need allies, just as we need allies in them.”

Also in attendance was Alessandro Grattoni, winner of the Shelby Hodge Vision Award on behalf of the Houston Methodist Research Institute. A leader in nanomedicine research, Grattoni explained how alternative drug administration methods, most notably via implant, could make it impossible for HIV/AIDS patients to forget to take their medication. Added Grattoni, “Using the constant sustained delivery method you can reduce the doses, side effects and improve their quality of life.”

Peaking at nearly 500 attendees, AIDS Foundation Houston continues to be a vital source for education and resources in Houston and beyond.