Keeping the Promise: World AIDS Day Luncheon

The AIDS Service Foundation of Greater Kansas City presented the World AIDS Day 2006 Community Luncheon at the Kauffman Foundation on November 28, 2006. Themed “Keep the Promise”, the luncheon was a time to recognize those who have lived with HIV, as well as those who have struggled to ensure services would be in place.
More than 200 people attended the Community Luncheon. State Street served as Presenting Sponsor. Master of Ceremonies, Steve Metzler introduced speakers including Carl Schramm, CEO of the Ewing Kauffman Foundation who welcomed the guests to the Foundation, Mayor Kay Barnes, who made brief remarks about HIV/AIDS in our city and the Keynote Speaker, Jesse Milan. The marketing group, Salva O'Renick was recognized for their in-kind contributions to the AIDS Service Foundation. O’Renick has provided the foundation with pro-bono, top-quality strategic development, web design and marketing services for the past five years.
The keynote speaker was Jesse Milan, Jr., Vice President for Global Health Convergence of the Constella Group international health consulting firm. Milan, who has been living with HIV for 24 years, is a native of Kansas City, KS and attended Washington High School. He is a graduate of Princeton University and New York University School of Law.
Milan began by telling the audience a little about his fight with HIV. “Now we stand here twenty-five years later,” he stated. “The battle is not over. We need to support agencies and educate our youths.”
“It never occurred to me that I would be a veteran,” Milan said. “Twenty-five million people have died of AIDS. We don’t have a memorial for those who died of AIDS. In this year alone, three million people will die worldwide.”
Milan compared the fight against AIDS to the war in Iraq. “Like the war in Iraq, most are under the age of twenty-five,” he said. “The most venerable are the very young. Forty thousand are infected in this country and most are under the age of twenty-five.”
“Why, after twenty-five years, do we have an annual death rate of eighteen thousand? The majority of them are Black”, he asked. “We have not been as vigilant as we should. Milan expanded on the healthcare dilemma. “We cannot assume that services will be available,” he stated. “Of these who are uninsured and depend on Ryan White services, twenty-two percent are unaccounted for.”
“The CDC set a goal to reduce the number of infections and decrease the health disparity,” said Milan. “After 25 years there is no vaccine or a cure. It’s time for us to focus again on AIDS in America.”
Milan ended his speech with some solemn advice. “The promise is not just for the people, but for all people. People need prevention and people need a cure.”

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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