To celebrate the opening of their offices in New York, this year Heroes in the Struggle, the Black AIDS Institute’s Gala Event, will be held both in New York city, on December 1, 2008 (World AIDS Day) at Frederick P. Rose Hall home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and in Los Angeles on February 4, 2009 (just before National Black AIDS Awareness Day) at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The Black AIDS Institute is the first Black HIV/AIDS policy center dedicated to reducing HIV/AIDS health disparities by mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront the epidemic in their communities. It is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in Los Angeles, California.

Heroes in the Struggle is a photographic tribute to African Americans who have made outstanding contributions in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Since it’s debut on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2001, the Heroes In The Struggle exhibit has traveled around the country, raising awareness, challenging individuals and institutions to get involved in their communities, and generating critical conversation about HIV testing and treatment.

The Heroes — inducted at an annual gala ceremony — reflect the diverse and exceptional ways that Black people can and are fighting HIV/AIDS. The men and women profiled in the exhibit are celebrities, athletes, politicians, people of faith, doctors, people living with HIV/AIDS and community advocates.

In August, the CDC released a study confirming our worst fears: The American AIDS epidemic is least 40% worse than previously believed. This sad news serves only to dramatically underscore the point the Black AIDS Institute has been making for the last nine years. America has utterly failed to invest meaningfully in ending a domestic epidemic that is spiraling out of control.

The CDC study came on the heels of the release of the Black AIDS Institute’s latest report on the state of AIDS in Black America—”Left Behind! Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic”. The report illustrates a clear and startling gap between the U.S. government’s appropriate concern about AIDS overseas, and its ongoing denial of the epidemic at home – despite the fact that, in areas of the United States such as Detroit, Newark, New York, Washington D.C. and the deep South, HIV levels among segments of the Black community approach those of many severely affected countries in Africa. For example, HIV prevalence among middle-aged Black men in Manhattan is almost as high as overall prevalence in South Africa.

This year’s theme is Black Men Honoring Black Women in the Struggle.  All of this year’s Heroes are pioneering women who have demonstrated incredible commitments to ending the AIDS epidemic in the Black community. This year’s Heroes include: Sandra Evers-Manly (President of the Northrop Grumman Foundation), Dr. Marjorie Hill (GMHC), the Honorable Barbara Lee (U.S. Congress, D-CA), Sonia D. Lockett (VP of Public Affairs, BET Networks), Gloria Reuben (Actress, AIDS Activist), Bev Smith (The Bev Smith Show), Dr. Kimberly Smith, Cookie Johnson (Philanthropist) and Andrea Williams (AIDS Activist). This year’s corporate hero is MAC AIDS Fund.

By showcasing examples of heroism from all walks of life, Heroes in the Struggle helps galvanize African Americans and others to focus and commit to overcoming this epidemic.

BlackAIDS.org