On Monday, May 4th, Iris House held its Tenth Annual Women as the Face of AIDS Summit, a full day of panels, presentations and workshops to educate and inspire attendees about current trends, challenges and successful programs in waging the war on AIDS. This year’s theme, “AIDS 2020: Keeping the Vision on Women,” amplified the goals of New York State’s Ending the Epidemic Task Force, established by Governor Andrew Cuomo to ensure that NY State remains a leader in the fight against AIDS.
More than 400 people were in attendance throughout the day, which started with a plenary presentation by Gina Brown, M.D., from the National Institutes of Health, Office of AIDS Research, and a panel discussion, “Ending AIDS by 2020: The Government Response,” featuring Demetre C. Daskalakis, M.D., Assistant Commissioner for HIV/AIDS for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Michelle S. Davis, the Regional Health Administrator (Region II) for the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and Daniel A. O’Connell, the Director of New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute. Dr. Brown stressed the cross section of HIV and other life challenges, “Women living with recent intimate partner violence have four times the rate of Anti-Retroviral Therapy failure.” Dr. Daskalakis discussed the importance of PrEP as a part of the HIV prevention tool box and promised the gathering, “I will see a woman saying ‘I am on PrEP’ in the subway ads!” Mr. O’Connell noted that this summer, the New York State Department of Health would present its first ever Transperson Symposium.
More than two dozen other presentations were made throughout the day covering a broad range of topics: from practical information about how Food is Medicine and Prevention (presented by God’s Love We Deliver) and Aging with HIV (presented by various angles by Iris House and GMHC), to programs focused on non-profits and Technology (William F. Ryan Community Center) and stigma (University of South Florida), to more artistic programs on women’s ongoing contributions to the movement (Visual AIDS) and Condom Decoration (Mt. Sinai Institute for Advanced Medicine.) “There is a tremendous power and energy in the idea of hundreds of women and men coming together to focus on how to end the HIV/AIDS Epidemic,” said Executive Director Ingrid Floyd.
“Today, we salute not only the women who are on the frontlines of this battle every day, but each and every person who is doing what they can to help us all win this war.”
A special awards luncheon honored ten women whose work in the field of HIV/AIDS has been transformative, whether at the level of government policy or in one-on-one work with women living with HIV. Honorees Theresa Mack, M.D., St St. Luke’s Medical Group and Debra Fraser-Howze, OraSure Technologies spoke on behalf of the honorees, a complete list of whom can be found at www.irishouse.org. The honorees were joined by New York City Councilmember Inez E. Dickens, who has been a long-time champion of Iris House’s work, and particularly in her support of the Women as the Face of AIDS Summits.
The day ended with a networking and dessert reception that featured very special guest, Congressman Charles B. Rangel. Mr. Rangel presented a special award to Iris House Executive Director Ingrid Floyd proclaiming Monday, May 4, 2015 as “Iris House Women’s AIDS Day.” The Congressman saluted our honorees when he said, “It’s a true profile in courage…members of the black community standing up to say, ‘We have a sickness and it’s not a disease that has ANYTHING to do with our character.’ Those are the heroes.”
The Tenth Annual Women as the Face of AIDS Summit was made possible by the educational support of: The Council of the City of New York; The Honorable Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker; corporate sponsors OraSure Technologies, Merck & Company, ViiV Healthcare, AmidaCare and Gilead Sciences; Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and non-profit partners like Mount Sinai Institute for Advanced Medicine, God’s Love We Deliver, GMHC, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, The HEAT Program, Village Care, The Well Project, the Tau Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and the William F. Ryan Community Healthcare Network.
Iris House is producing a sister event to the Women as the Face of AIDS Summit, its annual Community Health Fair on Saturday, May 9, 2015, from 11 AM – 3 PM on the plaza of the Adam Clayton Powell New York State Office Building, 163 West 125th Street, 10027.
About Iris House, Iris House provides services for women, families and communities infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. In addition to providing family-centered services that promote prevention, education and awareness, Iris House also offers practical services that address the day-to-day needs and reality of living with HIV/AIDS. Iris House provides nutritional counseling and meal programs, intensive case management, scatter site housing, mental health services and support groups, and job and life skills training. Since opening its doors in 1993, Iris House has assisted more than 1,800 individuals cope with HIV/AIDS. For more information on Iris House and Iris House Programs, please visit www.irishouse.org.