TAB:World AIDS Day Event + Gilmer Weighs In

TAB:World AIDS Day Event + Gilmer Weighs In

It has been a few years since the Telluride AIDS Benefit hosted a dance party for World AIDS Day, which is December 1. The non-profit is reviving the event.

“This year we want to celebrate life—and along with a little help from DJ Seano. It will be a classic dance party at O’Bannons at the Moon,” said Michelle Maughan, TAB’s executive director.


World AIDS Day is the perfect day to kick off for TAB’s 24th year fighting HIV/AIDS by raising awareness and generating financial support for prevention programs and client care for other nonprofits from Colorado to Africa.

Tickets are $5 and available at the door. The party starts at 9 p.m.

World AIDS Day was designated in 1988 and aims to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

Maughan is hoping the event will also help people remember to get tested. HIV tests are free at the Telluride Regional Medical Center, thanks to a collaboration with TAB.

“One in five people living with HIV don’t know their status and 32 percent of new HIV diagnosis in Colorado land on people in their 20s,” said Maughan.

And now a word from Ron Gilmer, former partner of Robert Presley, TAB’s muse. Presley died in 1997 from causes related to HIV/AIDs. TAB helps support other nonprofits, which in turn help individual and families dealing with HIV/AIDS on the Front Range and all the way to Africa. TAB is Presley’s legacy; Gilmer speaks for him in reminding us why we need to continue to support the organization.

Telluride AIDS Benefit more relevant then ever in 2017

By Ron Gilmer, founding board-member,Telluride AIDS Benefit

World AIDS Day is December 1

AIDS might seem like a distant memory in the wake of a tumultuous 16 month-long election cycle. The election results are providing a potentially unnerving picture for the future of AIDS-related issues. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid was greatly expanded and many prerequisites were dropped to make access to care easier for almost 45% of HIV positive people. Many of these improvements are likely to be cut or trimmed in the new administration. This will make other funding such as that provided by the Telluride AIDS Benefit more relevant than ever.

AIDS has been a recognized disease for 36 years, many medical advances have been made, and today about 40% of the world’s 38 million people living with HIV are in some type of treatment program, an unthinkable number even 10 years ago.

Overall, the rate of new infections is slowing in many parts of the world, however 2015 saw an increase to 2 million new infections, up from 1.2 million in 2014. As AIDS is sexually transmitted in most cases, stigma has always been, and remains, the #1 driver of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Ultimately, the health insurance issues may pale in comparison to the larger threat the next four years pose to people living with HIV and the broader demographics to which they belong. The prospect of discrimination unleashed by recent election rhetoric could bring on wide discrimination of minorities, including persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Many common sense measures to prevent HIV, such as syringe-exchange programs and widespread PrEP availability are being avoided and potentially face an even harder battle to win approval in certain regions of the country. The recent outbreak of HIV/AIDS in rural Indiana, attributed to injection drug use, could have been avoided.

Until the Scott County outbreak, there was just one needle exchange program in the entire state of Indiana; in 17 states, there are none at all. Syringe-exchange programs have reduced HIV infections dramatically in many parts of the country where these programs are aggressively pursued. Luckily, Colorado and the Western Slope have numerous programs in place.

The challenge of getting antiretroviral therapy to all who need it is a colossal one. Moreover, treating HIV remains a lifelong proposition. Since current treatment keeps the virus at bay rather than eradicating it, a 25-year-old diagnosed with HIV today faces the prospect of being on antiretroviral therapy for four or five decades. That could amount to well over $1.5 million in health costs that a young, newly infected person would amass by age 60 for HIV treatments alone.

Since no cure or vaccine currently exists, we can take nothing for granted. Nothing about HIV/AIDS has ever been straightforward or easy, and this chapter of the AIDS response—and the uncertain years ahead—will be no different.

As in all years, compassion is everything. The reality is that until we give everybody the same access to treatment and prevention, AIDS will never, ever go away. It’s that simple.

Once again, World AIDS Day is December 1 and the Telluride AIDS Benefit will be celebrating life and celebrating World AIDS Day with a classic dance party at O’Bannon’s at the Moon. Tell all your friends. 9 p.m., $5 at the door.

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