by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
On Wednesday hundreds of people - HIV/AIDS healthcare and social service organization employees and elected officials included - filed into a banquet room at the Washington State Convention Center for the 11th Annual Stronger Together Seattle World AIDS Day Breakfast.
Organizers and beneficiaries of the event, Gay City, Seattle Counseling Service, Inspire Youth Project and Center for Multicultural Health, ask the public to join them in honoring those we've lost to HIV/AIDS, helping those who are living with HIV/AIDS, and celebrating the power of our community in providing a global example for effective response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Over thirty years ago the first cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attracted the world's attention. Since then, more than 630,000 Americans have lost their lives to AIDS and more than 56,000 people in the United States become infected with HIV each year. Currently, there are more than 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, and almost half of all Americans know someone living with HIV.
In King County alone there are an estimated 7,500 men and women living with HIV/AIDS.
Seattle-King County's progress in responding to HIV has been remarkable. According to officials, 92% of Gay men living with HIV in our region are aware that they carry the virus. Of those, 76% are virally suppressed, meaning that they are engaged in treatment sufficient to bring their viral load to undetectable levels, making it nearly impossible for them to transmit the virus to others. Relative to 2004, the rate of new HIV diagnoses in King County is down 23%.
'These numbers are extraordinary,' said Fred Swanson, Executive Director at Gay City to the audience, adding, 'the best of any city in the United States and quite possibly the world.'
The services of the four agencies partnering to present this year's breakfast, provided collaboratively over many years, have been instrumental in achieving these exceptional results.
'Clearly, when we band together we can make the strongest impact,' say officials.
The annual Seattle World AIDS Day Breakfast is the largest benefit of its kind in the Northwest and the organizations that benefit are all organizations that work to provide crucial HIV prevention, education, support and care in the Seattle area.
The breakfast is an opportunity for participants to make a strong impact by supporting the entire network of AIDS service providers in Seattle.
'Last year the event brought in over $120,000 for the combined agencies, which provided those living with HIV/AIDS care, support and most importantly - hope,' said officials.
While your breakfast is complimentary, the event is a fundraiser. Organizers invite and challenge all guests to consider a minimum gift or pledge of $150 to the partner organization(s) of their choice.
Jean Enersen, news anchor for KING 5, hosted the event. After more than 42 years behind the anchor desk, Jean Enersen, the first female local TV news anchor in the country, stepped down from her role as KING 5's Daily News Anchor in June 2014. Enersen now devotes full attention to KING 5 HealthLink, the most popular health franchise in the Northwest, and the community service she has been committed to for decades. Currently, Enersen is a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, a member of the board of the Seattle Foundation, a past president of the YWCA of Seattle-King County/Snohomish County, and co-chair of the annual Northwest AIDS Walk. Her many awards throughout her career include The Northwest AIDS Foundation Community Leadership Award.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who reminded people that this was the first World AIDS Day Breakfast he'd attended because he was always doing legislative work after being appointed to the State Legislature after Senator Cal Anderson died from complications due to AIDS, presented Pat Migliore and Michael Dunlop with awards for being unsung heroes in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Murray said they are two individuals that have made an extraordinary impact through their passion and commitment over decades of service in the fight against HIV/AIDS, exemplifying the power of committed individuals to organize compassionate communities and make a world of difference.
Twenty-five years ago, Pat Migliore helped found BABES Network, a sisterhood of HIV+ women organized for mutual support and to advocate for resources for HIV+ women in our community. Pat has been a staple in the program ever since, providing one-on-one peer support to BABES members; performing trainings and consultations with Peer Advocates and staff; leading educational workshops for members; serving on the Advisory Board as well as the Stella Fundraiser planning committee; and much more. Pat has been living with HIV for 28 years, and is an inspiration to all women living with HIV in our community.
Michael Dunlop began his career of service to people living with HIV/AIDS in 1992 as a pastoral care and education intern at Multifaith AIDS Project. Over the years he has worked with the Northwest AIDS Foundation, Catholic AIDS Ministry and Snohomish Health District. Michael joined the staff of Inspire Youth Project (then Rise-n-Shine) in 1996, where he has dedicated himself to providing support for children and teens affected by HIV/AIDS. He is indebted to the children of Inspire Youth Project for forging the way and teaching him about perseverance and compassion.
Following statements by Mayor Murray, former King County Executive Ron Sims, keynote speaker for the breakfast, took the stage.
In a speech, orated in the style that has made him a sought after public speaker, Sims reminded everyone of how far we've come in the epidemic and how well King County has done in minimizing new infections. Sims told everyone that Seattle is more than Super Bowl champions - we are also the champions in the fight against AIDS.
Ron Sims served as the Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2009-2011. He was appointed to that position by President Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Prior to his appointment at HUD, Sims served for 12 years as King County Executive. As County Executive, Sims was nationally recognized for his work on the integration of environmental, social equity and public health policies that produced groundbreaking work on climate change, health care reform, affordable housing, mass transit, environmental protection, land use, and equity and social justice. Sims serves as the chair of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board, which is responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Washington state. Sims is also on the Board of Directors of the Washington Health Alliance, a nonprofit organization he helped found, where employers, physicians, hospitals, patients, health plan providers and others from throughout the region come together to improve health care quality.
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!