VCCC, Nashville's HIV/AIDS Clinic, Commemorates its Landmark 25th Year

To celebrate its momentous 25th year serving persons living with HIV in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Care Clinic (VCCC) will host a gala to honor those affected by HIV, those who have supported the VCCC and its mission, and to reignite HIV awareness among the Nashville community. This gala will feature live performances by celebrated Nashville artists Daphne Willis, who has lent her songs to several popular television shows and national ad campaigns, and Jesse Lee, Music Row’s 2017 Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year and writer of back-to-back No.1 hits for Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young.

 

True to the VCCC’s long history of community partnership, all food, drinks and event sponsorships will be provided by local Nashville businesses. Over 350 guests are anticipated in the Vanderbilt Commodore Ballroom on Saturday, June 29, 2019, 7–10:00 p.m.

The VCCC is Nashville’s original non-profit medical home for people living with HIV. Established in 1994 by Stephen Raffanti, MD, the VCCC now celebrates a quarter century providing lifesaving medical care for the HIV-positive residents of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

“In the first 12 months we lost over 300 people, probably over 350 — almost a person a day,” Raffanti said. “And then you fast-forward how many thousands of patients later… all of a sudden, we were able to treat HIV and then everything changed, and it was like a dream come true.” Effective treatment for HIV first became available in 1995, after which survival from the infection dramatically improved.

Beverly Byram, who co-founded the VCCC, also remembers those tragic early days of the epidemic. “We were sometimes our patients’ only safe place,” she recalls, “in a world where a lot of times no one would touch them or even talk to them.” 

As revolutionary treatments and technologies continue to advance, HIV has been transformed from a universally fatal infection into a manageable, chronic medical condition within the span of a single generation. Today, the VCCC continues its original mission of providing the finest care possible by treating people living with HIV with dignity and compassion.

The VCCC currently provides HIV treatment and primary care for approximately 4,000 persons living with HIV, in addition to offering pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV-negative individuals who are at risk for HIV. The VCCC is designated as a Center of Excellence by the state of Tennessee and was recently recognized by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration as one of the top four HIV clinics in the United States.

Despite the availability of highly effective treatments and prevention, HIV rates nationally and locally are not declining. Through increased awareness to expand prevention, testing and linkage to care, the end of the HIV epidemic may be achievable, but the fight is far from over. Through this gala, the VCCC hopes to re-engage the community, among which are Nashville’s new generation of leaders, in the effort to end HIV.

Tickets will be available April 12 and can be purchased here: https://vanderbilt.ejoinme.org/vcccgala. Sponsors include Cressey & Co., Smile Direct Club, Lady Luck Songs, Losers Bar and Grill, SAVAGE Interior Design, Jody Jones DDS, The Rutledge, Tuckers Gap Event Center, QNTM Fit Life, Vida-Flo, Ron J Sofka Company, and Suzie’s Espresso, with additional support by G. Kyle Rybczyk, Katie and Kevin Crumbo, and Thomas Rassas.

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

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