Center on Halsted Observes World AIDS Day, December 1, 2009

Chicago, IL–(ENEWSPF)– World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 each year and is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. It is also common to hold memorials to honor and remember those who have died from complications of HIV/AIDS on this day.

AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 and an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide live with HIV (as of 2007) making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.

As HIV/AIDS has heavily impacted the LGBT community and where presently 57% of all new HIV infections in the US are related to men who have sex with men, Center on Halsted will be presenting a variety of very special programs in recognition of World AIDS Day 2009.

Unveiling of the Keiskamma Art Project Tapestry in Center on Halsted Lobby

In 2008, Nozeti Makhubalo a designer from a community initiative titled The Keiskamma Art Project was in Chicago in 2008 for the presentation of the Keiskamma Altarpiece at Chicago’s St. James Cathedral. The altarpiece created by the art project is a response to the AIDS epidemic in their community which is located in the coastal town of Hamburg, in South Africa’s largely rural, poverty-stricken Eastern Cape Province. While in Chicago Nozeti visited Center on Halsted and was inspired to design a tapestry for the Center.

Commissioned by Michael Leppen for Center on Halsted, the tapestry was created over nine months in 2009 by women involved with the art project who were inspired by the theme “fraternity all over the world.” Nozeti Makhubalo; designer of the Center tapestry, created it with the important and relevant message “To help each other with one heart of love.”

A special ceremony unveiling the tapestry will be held at 10am in the lobby of Center on Halsted.

Chicago Opera Vanguard, in partnership with Center on Halsted presents the World Premiere of The Chicago AIDS Quilt Songbook

The AIDS Quilt Songbook was started on World AIDS Day, 1992 in New York by the late baritone William Parker who passed away in 1993 of AIDS-related illness. For this concert, Parker invited various composers to add a "song panel" to a musical quilt of remembrance commemorating those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

A new songbook, The Chicago AIDS Quilt Songbook, created by Chicago Opera Vanguard’s Artistic Director Eric Reda has commissioned works from a wide variety of Chicago-based and associated artists including classical, pop, traditional, experimental, musical theater to cabaret style music. “I am so excited to help facilitate the revival of this powerful tradition,” said Chicago Opera Vanguard Artistic Director Eric Reda. “This is an amazing opportunity for Chicago’s rich and active musical community, both composers and performers, to share their voices in remembering those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.”

This one-night only benefit concert featuring songs by Chicago musical artists responding to the HIV/AIDS crisis will be presented on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day 2009 and will benefit the programs at Center on Halsted.

8pm curtain, with pre-show reception beginning at 6:30pm.

TICKETS: $40 VIP Tickets premiere seating and two complimentary drink tickets. $20, General Admission. Tickets available online atwww.centeronhalsted.org. For more information contact Tom Ballentine at [email protected] or call 773.661.0673.

Rapid HIV Testing

The Center offers free Rapid HIV Testing. Both anonymous and confidential, results in about 15 minutes. Daily 8am – 9pm in English and Espanol. Walk-ins welcome, appointments preferred. For more information contact 773. 661.0910.

Art Exhibits

Better Existence with HIV (BEHIV’s) annual exhibition of artwork created by art therapy clients and supportive individuals is on exhibit in the Center’s 3rd floor art gallery space. The exhibition is free to the public. For more information on BEHIV and the exhibition, contactwww.behiv.org.

"I Am …Living Positive" by photographer John Cotter. A photographic exhibit featuring portraits of people living with HIV/AIDS. Cotter states “My first thought about this exhibit was how to best capture people living with HIV. What would best work to show a point of view? I realized that people living with HIV/AIDS are everyday regular people. With that in mind I decided to capture snapshots of everyday moments featuring people living their lives in a positive way.” The exhibition opens Dec. 11 in the 3rd floor art gallery at the Center. The exhibit will run through Jan. 13, 2010.

Center on Halsted is proud that it offers ongoing HIV/AIDS programs to the community. These programs include:

State of Illinois AIDS/HIV & STD Hotline

Professionally trained Hotline Resource Counselors answer calls from anyone seeking information about HIV/AIDS and/or STDs. Information is shared about new medical treatments, routes of transmission, disease specifics, convenient testing sites, and personal risk assessments. The Hotline receives 20,000 calls per year from diverse populations such as general consumers, survivors of sexual assault, newly diagnosed individuals with HIV or an STD as well as long-term HIV survivors who are undergoing a crisis. Those with questions can call 1.800.AID.AIDS (1.800.243.2437) from 8am – 10pm daily. Spanish speaking counselors are available.

Rapid HIV Testing

The Center’s HIV Testing & Prevention Program offers free, anonymous, rapid HIV testing that allows people to know their status in about 15 minutes. Center on Halsted offers a safe and comfortable space that has led to an unprecedented amount of word-of-mouth referrals to friends and family. Also, many clients have mentioned that it is easier to visit the Center for an HIV test as there are fewer stigmas associated with it than might be felt walking into an AIDS Service Organization or an STD clinic.

Walk-ins welcome, appointments are preferred. Daily, 8am – 9pm. To make an appointment call 773.661.0910. Spanish speaking counselors are available.

HIV-Positive Support Groups

Beginning Wednesdays and Thursdays in January 2010, the Center on Halsted will be resuming its HIV-positive support groups. In a safe and friendly environment, connect with others living with HIV/AIDS to share stories and experiences related to HIV and AIDS. The groups are open to newly-diagnosed individuals as well as those who have been HIV+ for many years. The free groups run in 10-week cycles, are confidential and facilitated by a professionally licensed counselor. All HIV-Positive support groups are offered free of charge. For more information contact Gregory Gross, AM, LSW, Clinical Manager HIV Testing & Prevention at [email protected] or call 773.472.6469 X 478

Mental Health Services

Therapy available to treat conditions such as anxiety or depression. Services are offered on a sliding scale, insurance plans, or may be free to individuals living with HIV/AIDS or experiencing relationship violence. (Spanish speaking counselors available) Contact 773.472.6469 X 460

Chicago’s Center on Halsted is the Midwest’s largest community center for LGBT persons. As a resource and gathering place for youth and adults in a safe, inviting atmosphere, the Center offers comprehensive support networks and programming to meet the cultural, emotional, social, educational and recreational needs of all LGBT and non-LGBT persons.