In addition to traditional candlelight vigils, thousands of activists, survivors and loved ones across South Florida will observe World AIDS Day next week with a variety of concerts, art exhibits and observances.

On Tuesday, Dec. 2, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation will host “An Evening of Celebration,” to benefit the World AIDS Museum at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale. The evening will include a VIP reception in the center’s new Huizenga Pavilion to honor local HIV/AIDS healthcare professionals, followed by a concert by the South Florida Symphony in the Amaturo Theater.

The concept for the museum grew out of a local HIV support group, Pozitive Attitudes. Steve Stagon, the facilitator, started creating historical HIV/AIDS exhibits as topics for the group discussion. The exhibits were initially displayed at the Pride Center and Blanche Ely High School before the museum location was secured in Wilton Station in Wilton Manors.

The museum’s first permanent exhibit, “Chronology of AIDS,” opened in May 2014 and on Tuesday, the museum will officially celebrate its grand opening.

The concert, conducted by Maestra Sebrina Maria Alfonso, will include uplifting pops selections, including Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and medleys from popular Broadway and film scores.

“All of the music in some way is about hope, to make the world better,” said Alfonso, “and that’s what the World AIDS Museum is doing. We’re honored to participate in this important occasion.”

The symphony will repeat the program at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on Dec. 7. For more information and tickets to the Broward Center gala and concert, go to WorldAIDSMuseum.org.

To mark World AIDS Day in Miami-Dade, the Florida Department of Health will remember those lost to HIV/AIDS with a special installation of its award-winning Faces of HIV art exhibit through Jan. 4 at History Miami’s Community Gallery, 101 W. Flagler St. in Miami. The exhibit will be open to visitors Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

Faces of HIV depicts the lives of Florida residents living with HIV and AIDS through larger-than-life portraits, accompanied by thought-provoking video stories and powerful intimate journals.  Participants of the project address how they became infected with HIV and dealt with their diagnoses, as well as their personal relationships, effects of HIV on the body and more.

Tracey Dannemiller, one of the exhibit’s “faces” of HIV, said, ““Doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, black, white, young, old, gay, straight, male, or female. It could be any of us. All the virus needs is a human T cell to grow and replicate, and guess what? We’re all human.” 

To welcome the exhibit to Miami, the Faces of HIV mobile art exhibit will appear in Miami for two free shows.  The mobile art exhibit gives visitors an up-close and personal glimpse into the lives of those living with HIV in hopes of promoting awareness and understanding about the disease.

The mobile exhibit will be on display on Monday, Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Thomas University, 16401 NW 37th Ave. in Miami Gardens, and Tuesday, Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Florida International University South Campus, 11200 SW 8th St. in Miami.

For more information about the Faces of HIV art exhibits, go to WeMakeTheChange.com.


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