World AIDS Day Event Creates Solidarity, Draws Attention to Available Resources

Pictured from left to right: Coley Alston (Hugh Lane Wellness), Aaron Arnold (Prevention Point Pittsburgh), Chris Garnett (JHF), Dr. Ken Ho (PACT, Pitt Men’s Study), and Yikia Li (Allies for Health and Wellbeing).

On December 1, AIDS Free Pittsburgh (AFP) with Allies for Health + Wellbeing, TrueT Pgh, and The Q-Munity Center brought together over 130 people for The Category is… Red: A World AIDS Day Event at the Union Project in Highland Park. Excluding the annual Too Hot For July events, this was the best attended event for AFP since its inception.

The purpose of many World AIDS Day events is to honor and hear from those living with and affected by HIV, and to educate the community about advancements in prevention and care that can end the epidemic. Event attendees were encouraged to wear red attire and accessories as a symbol of support for people impacted by HIV/AIDS and to demonstrate solidarity in efforts to eliminate the HIV epidemic locally, nationally, and globally. Sister Petra Pyper Pictapekhov Pickled Peckers of the Nuns of Steel, Abbey of Trinity Rivers, Steel Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence won the Best Dressed Category.

The hosts for the evening were Naheen Binion from True T Pgh and Dena Stanley from Trans YOUniting, The Q-Munity Center, and Pittsburgh Pride Group. The DJ was HUNY XO and there were performances by 412 Step, Joey Young, Jita the Believer and Senor Poizun, IncoMEplete and members of the Pittsburgh Ballroom Scene.

The event included two panel discussions. The first included Yijia Li from Allies for Health and Wellbeing, Ken Ho from the UPMC PACT Clinic, Coley Alston from Hugh Lane Wellness, Aaron Arnold from Prevention Point Pittsburgh, Natalie Price from the Allegheny County Health Department, and Christopher Garnett from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. The second panel featured community members including Shekinah R, Eric P, Marc W, D'Nico P.E., and Lauryn P. 

412 Step led line dancing lessons for World AIDS Day participants.

Attendees were provided with free event t-shirts and merchandise, risk reduction supplies, and educational material from partner organizations. Attendees were provided with refreshments, desserts, and charcuterie from the Pittsburgh Pride Group, Mami's Bakes, BB&Bur, and Chef Randy Smith.

The event concluded with a dance party produced by DarK Sound, Honcho, and DJ Huny XO. For many community members, dance floors and ballrooms continue to be a special space to gather, to celebrate, and to support each other. AFP and partners recognize that community building and sharing joy through activities like dancing together are valuable and essential parts of any movement, including efforts to end the HIV epidemic. 

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