The education and support around HIV/AIDS has grown tremendously in Mecklenburg County in the last two decades. I remember when World AIDS Day would come and go with only recognition from Charlotte’s gay communities. It’s not like that anymore. Last week, a multitude of World AIDS Day celebrations drew a variety of people. I attended The Regional AIDS Interfaith Network’s Voices Project Voices Project and Stronger Together luncheon.
The Voices Project brought together community influencers to share the story of people impacted by HIV and AIDS. This year’s storytellers included Power 98’s No Limit Larry, 107.9 The Link’s Matt Harris, Latina 102.3’s Judy Barriga and others. They shared stories from people living with HIV/AIDS as well as from friends and family members of people living with HIV/AIDS. These weren’t the Hollywood stories that always have a happy ending. They were real people, some of whom grappled with their poor choices, and others were testimonies of survival.
The celebration didn’t stop with World AIDS Day. The remainder of the week included Stronger Together: A World AIDS Day Luncheon. Lesa Kastanas and Walter Kearns received the Ribbon of Love Leadership Award. On Saturday, the 6th Annual Red Pump/Red Tie Affair featured a fashion show, a silent auction and local boutiques. RAIN’s President and CEO Rev. Debbie Warren was this year’s honoree.