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Houston Celebrates World AIDS Day Luncheon

Houston Celebrates World AIDS Day Luncheon

AIDS Foundation Houston hosted its Annual World AIDS Day Luncheon at the Hilton Houston Post Oak on Thursday December 1. This event supports the AIDS Foundation Houston’s ambitious “Getting to Zero” goal of zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero stigma. Hosted by Chevron, and chaired by Ernie Manouse (senior producer/host, Houston Public Media) and Bill Baldwin (owner, Boulevard Realty), the sold-out luncheon had nearly 500 guests and supporters.

This year’s keynote address was given by HIV activist and longtime HIV survivor Sean Strub, founder of POZ Magazine and author of Body Counts: A Memoir of Activism, Sex, and Survival. Mr Strub also currently serves as Director of the SERO Project. His short film, HIV is Not a Crime, introduced the problem of HIV criminalization, and he was the first openly HIV positive person to run for the U.S. Congress. He also produced the off-Broadway hit The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me and served as a member on the board of the Global Network of People Living with HIV. His address to the luncheon focused on HIV criminalization and the need for political action.

Alessandro Grattoni, PhD; Karla Grattoni; Photo by Emile C. Browne

Alessandro Grattoni, PhD; Karla Grattoni; Photo by Emile C. Browne

Following the keynote, Alessandro Grattoni, PhD of Houston Methodist Research Institute and the Department of Nanomedicine, was presented with the Shelby Hodge Vision Award by Joni Baird from Chevron. His work has focused on a refillable implant that administers Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs to subjects at risk of HIV exposure. Grattoni was also recently awarded a multi-million dollar National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant to enhance the technology which provides sustained and constant release of drugs without the use of pumps, valves or a power supply.

Guests included Kelly Young, Melody Patelis; Mayor Sylvester Turner, Mayor Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard; Nora Ackerly, Frank Billingsley, Gordon Bethune and Jessica Rossman, Matt Burrus and Michael Pearce, Joni Baird, Joanne King Herring, Star and Jack Massing, Sarah McMullen, Mariquita Masterson, Richard Ray, Jeff Shell, Travis Torrence, Tanner Williams; and Fady Armanious.

The AIDS Foundation Houston, Inc. was founded in 1982 as the first AIDS Service Organization in Texas, and remains a national leader in HIV/STD programming. Focusing on preventing new HIV infections, and providing housing and supportive services to those already living with HIV/AIDS, AFH provides care to almost 6,000 men; women and children affected by HIV/AIDS and will educate more than 90,000 people throughout Texas. For more information, please visit www.AIDSHelp.org.

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