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Facing AIDS in Portland, Oregon

Going Red for World AIDS Day - Cascade AIDS ProjectWorld AIDS Day is tomorrow, December 1, and once again we’re encouraging communities to take part in a Facing AIDS. Ernesto Dominguez, Youth Technology Specialist at Cascade AIDS Project Exit Disclaimer in Portland, Oregon, has been organizing Facing AIDS events for the last two years. Cascade AIDS Project is an Office of Minority Health Curbing HIV/AIDS Transmission among High Risk Minority Youth and Adolescents (CHAT) grantee.

We asked Ernesto to share their plans for World AIDS Day this year along with some of their lessons learned:

Tell us a little about your work.
Most of today’s youth have never known a world without HIV. As CHATpdx (a coalition of organizations that are working to Curb HIV/AIDS Transmission among youth in Portland) we having been working to change how youth view and are impacted by the epidemic.

What are your plans for World AIDS Day this year?
For the second year in a row, we are hosting a Facing AIDS event to commemorate World AIDS Day. During our youth drop, CHAT(room) we are asking young people to create their own message and take a photo for us to post on the AIDS.gov website as well as create a video for the CHATpdx facebook page (www.facebook.com/chatpdx Exit Disclaimer). We are also providing free HIV testing for youth (and they will receive their results in 20 minutes).

Check out our video from last year’s Facing AIDS event:

And we started a campaign to turn Facebook RED in honor of World AIDS Day. We asked folks to make this image Exit Disclaimer their profile image and then share the message with their friends/family. Already we have had close to a hundred organizations including Advocates for Youth Exit Disclaimer turn their own profiles RED.

Do you have any lessons learned that you’d like to share with other organizations that might be interested in hosting a Facing AIDS event?
We found that many people either didn’t know much about HIV or didn’t know that it was still an issue. The Facing AIDS event provided us with an opportunity to not only raise awareness, but to conduct mini HIV presentations. The presentations are group presentations and we will be linking folks to our offices for a full day of rapid testing open to anyone (regardless of risk/gender) and  is completely free. We also set apart some time for folks to ask their own questions/learn more specifics if they wanted on a one to one basis.

Do you have any other tips or advice?
We displayed the Facing AIDS signs for folks from the community to see the impact too as they walked by our office.We found that when we posted the photos on Facebook (with photo consent of course), people wanted to share their images and made them their profile photos for a long time after our event. This long lasting show of support continues as those photos will stay on Facebook and will be a reminder of what was accomplished by one person, with one message and one hope.

For more information about CHATpdx or its programs, please visit their Facebook page Exit Disclaimer or contact Ernesto at edominguez@cascadeaids.org.

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