The Ryan White Program at The University of Toledo Medical Center is getting the conversation started about HIV/AIDs prevention with a fashion show Sunday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel, 3100 Glendale Ave.
“Fashion With the Stars: A Tribute to Fashion’s Fallen Stars” will feature Rasheeda, an American rapper, fashion designer, television personality and businesswoman from Atlanta.
“We thought fashion would be a way to reach the black community, which isn’t as accepting of hearing about HIV and AIDS because of a stigma within some churches and families,” said Kennyetta White, minority outreach coordinator for the Ryan White Program.
The fashion show, in honor of World AIDS Day on Tuesday, Dec. 1, is being hosted in collaboration with Priceless Designs in Toledo, which is providing the models and the clothing. During the intermissions, facts about HIV and AIDS will be shared. One of the most startling facts is that the highest risk population for contracting HIV is black men between the ages of 18 and 24.
“The fashion industry has lost some amazing people to AIDS such as Perry Ellis and Willi Smith,” said Richard Meeker, project director for the Healthy Relationships Program in the Ryan White Clinic. “This show is trying to reach a whole new demographic.
“We don’t pay attention to HIV and AIDS like we used to, but it is still a huge problem,” Meeker said. “Besides the risk to the black community, it is on the rise because of heroin abuse. We had a case in Ohio where 26 people were affected by the same needle.”
White said some people look at HIV as a manageable disease these days so they aren’t as careful when it comes to protected sex and drug abuse.
“They think they can take a pill and they will be fine,” she said. “They relate it to something like diabetes.”
While the treatment plans for HIV can lead to a normal and healthy life, each body reacts to the disease differently. It isn’t something you want to contract just because it can be manageable, White said.
Rasheeda said continuing the AIDs conversation is vital because it has no cure.
“It’s very important that I participate in this cause and use my platform to spread as much awareness as possible,” she said.
To purchase tickets — $25 for general admission and $35 for VIP — can be purchased by contacting White at 419.266.2853 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds will benefit the Ann Locher Foundation.
Organizers also are seeking sponsorships and other donations.