Society

World AIDS Day Hits Home in Houston With Candid Project Runway Winner and Prevention Crusader

More Than $150,000 Raised and Shelby Hodge Visionary Award Winner Named

BY // 12.11.19

With the sobering revelation that there are 26,000 cases of HIV/AIDS in the Houston area and 2,500 new cases occurring each year, the importance of AIDS Foundation Houston’s mission and its annual World AIDS Day luncheon was paramount during the fundraiser at Bayou Place. Bringing the message home was Mondo Guerra, the Project Runway winner who announced during the series that he was HIV positive.

Ten years after revealing what at the time could have been a death sentence, Guerra comfortably told his story in a Q&A with Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse.

“It was very, very scary that the whole world would see it,” Guerra said, adding that his parents didn’t know. Having kept his diagnosis secret for years, Guerra recalled, “I think that was the moment that I decided to live and to love myself. It is really important to love yourself.”

That was just part of the program focusing on efforts at reducing the stigma and ending the spread of HIV.

Shelby Hodge Vision Award winner Bruce Richman, founding executive director of the national Prevention Access Campaign, has spent his career, since earning M.Ed and law degrees from Harvard, in global philanthropy, focusing of late on the Undetectable = Untransmittable or U=U campaign.

Mayor Sylvester Turner added to the conversation telling the gathering of more than 500 that during the Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit held in Houston only days before, he and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo had committed to join the Paris Declaration of fast track cities striving to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The work of AFH plays beautifully into that goal.

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Applause, applause for chairs Carrie Brandsberg-Dahl, Adrian Dueñas and Duyen Nguyen for their event that drew a fashionable crowd of notables and influencers and brought in more than $150,000 for AFH programs.

PC Seen: AFH board chair Leslie Nagy, AFH CEO John Huckaby, luncheon sponsor Chevron’s Angel Rua, city council members Karla Cisneros and Robert Gallegos, Sara Speer Selber, Caroline Starry, George Lancaster, Kristina Somerville, Kelly Gale Amen, Fady Armanious, Debbie Festari, Travis Torrence, Ceron, Stacey Lindseth, Viet Hoang, Randall Gonzales, Amanda Mills, Dr. Roland Maldonado, Marley Hurley, Clifford Pugh, Marcelo Saenz, Shafik Rifaat, Mark Nguyen and Sverre Brandsberg-Dahl.

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