By Tamara Juarez, April 2017 Issue.

Aunt Rita’s Foundation, Arizona’s leading HIV/AIDS advocacy group, is rolling out the red carpet for its first fundraiser of the year: RED is the Night, an evening of entertainment that will make you feel like a Hollywood celebrity.

The inaugural event, set for March 24, will include a special appearance by six-time Emmy Award-winner Bruce Valinch, the internationally-renown troupe Scorpius Dance Theatre, local “auctiontainer” Letitia Frye and Phoenix’s own “Hip Historian” Marshall Shore.

“RED is the Night is all about fantastic entertainment,” said Glen Spencer, Aunt Rita’s Foundation executive director. “We wanted to entertain our donors and the people who are coming to our event with quality performances.”

The evening will also include a silent auction featuring a wide variety of autographed items, many of which have been autographed by noteworthy actors and actresses.

Glen Spencer, Aunt Rita’s Foundation executive director.

Proceeds from RED is the Night will be divided equally among Aunt Rita’s 16 partner agencies, which include the Bill Holt Clinic, McDowell Healthcare Center, HEAL International, Chicanos Por La Causa, Ebony House and one•n•ten among others.

Each organization provides a variety of critical services for HIV/AIDS patients, such as medical care, treatment services, case management, HIV prevention education, counselling and HIV testing.

According to Spencer, RED is the Night, and similar fundraising events that take place throughout the year, are critical.

“Federal funding for HIV and AIDS support is not growing, and the HIV-positive population is ...,” he said. “It’s very important that these events exist to keep the awareness around the HIV epidemic in the forefront of people’s minds.”

Since 2013, the number of identified HIV/AIDS cases has increased by 1,551 total patients, and a total of 17,349 Arizonans have HIV/AIDS, according to the latest report by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Last October, the Phoenix City Council unanimously voted to join the United Nation’s Fast Track Cities “90-90-90” Initiative, which aims to strengthen HIV/AIDS programs and end AIDS as a health threat by the year 2030. The three-pronged initiative focuses on achieving three goals: Getting 90 percent of HIV patients diagnosed, 90 percent of diagnosed patients medicated and 90 percent of treated HIV patients to safely suppress the virus.

“At a time when the city of Phoenix has … become a UN Fast-Track City and adopted the 90-90-90 goal,” Spencer explained, “this event, as well as other HIV and AIDS funding events, become an additional opportunity for outreach and awareness.”

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