Wrapped In Red for World AIDS Week

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by Sean H. Palmer

While there is much to celebrate by way of progress, AIDS-related illnesses have claimed the lives of 25 million people worldwide, the majority of its victims in Sub-Saharan Africa.  In the United State the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that Blacks account for nearly half of the people living with a diagnosis of HIV infections in 37 states. At some point in our lifetimes, an estimated 1 in 16 Black men and 1 in 32 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV infection. In North Carolina, Blacks comprise 66% of the reported cases, with Black men being the most at risk (compromising nearly 57% of the cases statewide).  Unfortunately, misinformation, poverty, sexual stigma, and institutional oppression continue to contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS within the Black community.

It is with this knowledge that the Mary Lou Williams Center seeks to bring attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its effects in the Black Community, by participating in World AIDS Week in collaboration with many other partners from our Duke community.  This year, we are “Wrapped In Red” on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 as we seek to transform our center into a place of learning, understanding, and healing.  Through a showing of the movie “Life Support” at lunch, we seek to examine the life of a mother living with AIDS.  Later in the evening, we will share in a robust dinner and discussion as we watch the recent documentary “Endgame: AIDS In Black America.”  And for dessert at nine that evening, we will experience the beauty of the arts, as local artists turn their attention to HIV/AIDS in an exhibition that features a libation/litany, spoken word, live instrumental music, and singing.

It is our sincere hope that World AIDS Week will have the effect of raising awareness and consciousness.  It is through “Wrapped In Red,” that we hope to ensure that friends, family and community members are never forgotten by vocalizing on Wednesday…and on Saturday we fall silent (in the center) with the hope of encouraging reflection on how we might participate in efforts to support, free, and heal our brothers and sisters around the world. 

Join us, and wrap your Black self in Red!

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