On December 1,2016, Puerto Rican Cultural Center-Vida/SIDA hosted a World AIDS Day 2016 event at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (NMPRAC). The event began at La Casita de Don Pedro where an altar was created by Co-chairperson of the Chicago Chapter of TransLatina Coalition, Maritxa Vidal, followed by a candlelight vigil in memory of those who have died of AIDS and in support of people living with HIV. After the vigil, attendees participated in a procession to the NMPRAC where the World AIDS Day Program was held.
Joining Vida/SIDA were our community partners and sponsors, Erie Family Health Center represented by Esther Morales, a Case Manager of Lending Hands for Life, a program that provides medical care for those diagnosed with HIV, and Sanford Gaylord, from US Department of Health and Human Services, who spoke eloquently of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, Affordable Care Act, Viral Hepatitis, and other health initiatives.
The Keynote speaker was Dr. Tahseen J.Siddiqui, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Norwegian American Hospital with which Vida/SIDA has established a partnership and has implemented a program called Integrated Paseo. The above program directs and offers services such as Counseling and Testing for HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Hepatitis-C to the LatinX and African American population in Chicago. Dr. Siddiqui provided the audience with a detailed Power Point presentation on HIV/AIDS prevention, stigma, and statistics and the beacon of light that exists today for those who are living with HIV.
The event program ended with two of Chicago’s top Drag Queens, Milani Ninja and Naomi Ninja, who entertained the audience with two dynamic musical performances. Vida/SIDA’s World AIDS Day event was a program promoting education, awareness and a vision of hope that as we continue our struggle, HIV/AIDS will soon be a disease of the past.
By Ricardo Jiménez, Vida/SIDA
Photos by Ed Negrón