AID Atlanta 40th Anniversary Celebration
Thursday, November 12,6:30-11 pm
The Loudermilk Conference Center
AID Atlanta is not only commemorating their 40th anniversary with one event. According to Jon Santos, Director of Fundraising and Events for AID Atlanta, the whole year has been a celebration of the oldest AIDS service organization in the Southeastern United States. And the celebration continues until the year closes out.
This year is the 40th Anniversary of AID Atlanta. How have you celebrated this momentous occasion?
The entire year has been a celebration of the AID Atlanta Family. Those who were visionary to found our organization, the staff—past, present, and future—who work so hard for our clients and patients, and those who support us. We have had a Groovy Skate Party, AID Atlanta Day in the City of Atlanta, Fulton County Commission and with a special Resolution Honoring AID Atlanta in the Georgia State House of Representatives. We participated in new and exciting ways for us in AIDS Walk Atlanta and Atlanta Pride and are culminating the year with our 40th Anniversary Celebration on November 12th, and our World AIDS Day commemoration on December 1st.
Since 1982, AID Atlanta’s mission has remained the same: provide HIV/AIDS-related services, care, and education. But a lot has changed in 40 years – can you talk about those changes?
Known primarily as a center providing confidential HIV testing, we also provide STI testing and treatment, Prep and PEP therapy and prevention education. Science and medication have been the greatest drivers of change. The advances of the last 40 years are that we have a single daily pill (and now even injectable medications) that can help someone living with HIV become virally suppressed. This means HIV does not replicate in their body, and mostly they cannot pass HIV onto another person. Due to medical advances and research, ARV medication can also be taken in PrEP therapy as a measure to prevent new HIV infections. There is still no cure for HIV, but we have certainly many more viable options for treatment now than we did in the 80s and 90s.
What are some of the major milestones from the past 40 years?
When you are the first at creating something there is information you have, and then you learn that there is something better and you must change. Being nimble is the hallmark of the organization because in the beginning we did not know so much about HIV/AIDS. AID Atlanta developed the case management model to provide supportive care and assistance to clients which was then replicated across the nation and was the basis for today’s medical case management. Providing an Information Hotline that is staffed to answer questions about HIV, AIDS, safer sex practices. Affiliating with AHF has been a great hallmark as the relationship for AID Atlanta is the best of all worlds. AHF knows how to run health care centers and pharmacies and our exponential patient growth since 2015 is attributed to AHF’s expertise and generosity.
What are some milestones you expect to reach looking forward?
I expect AID Atlanta to have a great deal of effort spent on housing and housing assistance for people living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS, either directly or indirectly. Safe, affordable housing is one of the greatest indicators of whether someone will take their medication, achieve viral suppression, and remain in care.
How can the community get involved with AID Atlanta?
First and foremost, Get Tested and/or each one brings one! It is free and it is confidential. The key to getting a handle on HIV/AIDS is valuable information about our personal health. Second, please attend our fundraising events, including our 40th Anniversary Celebration, and third, join our team for AIDS Walk Atlanta & Music Festival next year. This remains our greatest fund and friend-raising events.
… and how do we attend the 40th Anniversary celebration?
Go to aidatlanta.org/anniversary to get tickets!
Anything you would like to add?AID Atlanta was founded by a group of friends who answered the questions “If not now, when? If not us, then Who?” The last four decades have had challenges and opportunities, but we remain grassroots, community-based Atlanta organization that is a part of our community. At this time, we are very grateful to the AID Atlanta family who supports us in this important and life-saving work. THANK YOU, ATLANTA!