The Red Hat Brunch Shines Spotlight on Women With HIV 

Past guests at the Red Hat Brunch. Photo via Compass, Facebook

Nearly 30,000 men in the U.S. were diagnosed each year with HIV/AIDS from 2012-2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in those years, 6,000 women per year were also affected. Because more men than women are typically impacted by HIV, the female population gets overlooked. 

Compass will give the female minority visibility during its fifth annual Red Hat Brunch on March 8, which is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD). 

This year’s event theme is “Nothing About Us Without Us,” which is a call for women with HIV to voice their concerns to those creating health legislation, said Compass’ Health Services Director Neka MacKay. 

“The voices of those living with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones should be the voices driving the decisions on HIV/AIDS services,” MacKay said. 

CAN Community Health and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation are sponsoring the brunch at Compass from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Attendees will have the chance to network, grab a gift tote, and watch a documentary called “Nothing Without Us: The Women Who Will End AIDS.” The film features female activists from across the globe, namely the U.S. and Africa. 

According to the film’s website, it “explores the unaddressed dynamics that keep women around the world at risk of HIV, while introducing the remarkable women who have the answers to ending this 30-year old pandemic.” 

Big Mama’s House of Sweets, a custom cheesecake bakery in Lake Worth, will be providing free brunch for attendees. 

Along with food and drinks, attendees will also be able learn about local health resources. There will be several exhibiting at Compass throughout the day, including Planned Parenthood, Florida Department of Health, PBC HIV CARE Council, and more. 

NWGHAAD is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health’s Office on Women’s Health, with this year being the 14th anniversary. Like Compass, the Office of Women’s Health also declared a theme for every year’s NWGHAAD. This year’s national theme that Compass is taking a different spin on is “HIV Prevention Starts With Me,” which emphasizes individuals’ roles in ensuring a healthy community, according to the website. 

Compass, the LGBT community center of Palm Beach County, recognizes that the minority of women with HIV “definitely tends to get overlooked,” MacKay said, which is why they deliberately make the Red Hat Brunch a “big event” every year. 

“For this event,” she said, “we highlight the voices of women, which have often been unheard or written out of history in the battle against HIV/AIDS.” 

The event is free, but registration on Compass’ website is required.


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