On Saturday December 1st, Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry joined in partnership with numerous community organizations to observe World AIDS Day and unite in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
World AIDS Day is an annual, internationally-recognized event that raises awareness, commemorates those who have passed, and celebrates the progression of treatment and prevention services related to HIV/AIDS. ABAM represented the cause through various events scattered throughout both Cook and Lake Counties, reaching a wide range of neighborhoods and cultures.
Through the efforts of ABAM along with Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach Chicago (AGLO) a prayer service was held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Chicago. The service included choir performances, a reading of names, as well as speakers living with HIV, including Bonaventure House graduate.
A second Cook County event was held at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Chicago. The service presented a cabaret of sung and spoken reflections on living with HIV/AIDS drawing on the traditions of black and white spirituals. Members of Saint Peter’s Church and residents of ABAM collaborated to produce this performance, including speeches from two current Bonaventure House residents telling their story of living with HIV/AIDS.
The annual Stand Against Stigma event took place in Lake County at Waukegan High School’s auditorium. This event brings together Alexian Brothers The Harbor, Lake County Health Department, Catholic Charities of Lake County and the YWCA to plan and execute. The occasion featured complimentary lunch and dessert, and inspirational performances to honor those living with HIV/AIDS and those lost to the disease. The entire program was provided in both English and Spanish translation to accommodate as many cultures within the area as possible.
ABAM also worked to reduce stigma around various locations on the south side, hosting free HIV testing, conversations, food, incentives, and educational material for surrounding communities. A balloon release was held to honor all those who have passed from the disease.
Throughout the various efforts on the global occasion, ABAM raised just under $1,500 through charitable donations to aid in the transitional housing and supportive service efforts related to HIV/AIDS.