The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

Press Release

Recipients of the Housing Works Third-Annual Keith D. Cylar AIDS Activist Awards Announced

$25,000 in Grants Awarded to HIV-Positive Activists; Gala Benefit Slated for April 12

February 12, 2007

New York, NY -- Housing Works is proud to announce the winners of its third-annual Keith D. Cylar AIDS Activist Awards. A benefit in their honor will take place Thursday, April 12, at 6pm, at the Prince George Ballroom at 15 E. 27th Street in Manhattan.

The 2007 awardees are:

Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga, Bolivian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, La Paz, Bolivia. International AIDS Activist Award; $10,000 grant

Michael Rajner, National Secretary of the Campaign to End AIDS, Fort Lauderdale, FL. U.S. AIDS Activist Award; $10,000 grant

Mark Hayes, Housing Works State and Federal Issues Organizer, Albany, NY. Housing Works AIDS Activist Award; $5,000 grant

Deborah Small, Executive Director of Break the Chains, New York, NY. Virginia Shubert Courage Award

The Keith D. Cylar AIDS Activist Awards are given to unheralded activists who have shown a tireless dedication to fighting the pervasive stigma and discrimination faced by people with HIV/AIDS. Their work reflects the spirit of Keith Cylar, the cofounder of Housing Works who died of AIDS-related complications in 2004. Cylar battled for the rights of homeless people with HIV/AIDS and helped transform Housing Works into the nation's largest minority-controlled, community-based AIDS organization.

"When the AIDS epidemic began, Keith was committed to reaching out to a population of people that no one cared about," says Housing Works president Charles King. "This year's Cylar awardees have also committed to helping people with HIV who might otherwise have been left behind."

The gala benefit is one of a three-day whirlwind of events honoring the awardees. On the agenda are Congressional visits and policy meetings in Washington, D.C.; a reception on Capitol Hill; the Cylar Awards Dance Party; and a luncheon with major foundations.

About the Awardees

A rape survivor who is fearlessly open about being HIV positive, Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga overcame stigma and silence around AIDS and women's rights in her home country of Bolivia to co-found its first PWA organization, RedBoL, the Bolivian Network of People living with HIV/AIDS. Her outspokenness launched Ms. Quiroga onto the global stage: She spoke at the XVI International AIDS Conference and served as Community Program Committee co-chair. She is on the steering committee of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS and is the South America facilitator for the Global Youth Coalition against AIDS. She also co-organized the London-based International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS.

As National Secretary of the Campaign to End AIDS (C2EA), Michael Rajner has played a major role in growing a two-year old coalition dedicated to ending AIDS stigma and discrimination into a thriving national network of activists. C2EA already boasts 12 robust statewide chapters, including one in Louisiana, where the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina threatened that state's AIDS infrastructure. In 2005, Mr. Rajner, who has had HIV since the mid-'90s, spearheaded C2EA's "Tropical Storm" caravan, a three-week activist pilgrimage from Florida to Washington, D.C. In 2006, he secured a "Pledge to End AIDS" from major Florida elected officials.

As the Housing Works State and Federal Issues Organizer in Albany, NY, since 1999, Mark Hayes was a member of the lobbying team that secured an historic victory: $6.5 million a year for communities of color in New York's hardest-hit areas. Mr. Hayes -- HIV-positive since 1997 -- leads HIV-positive Housing Works clients and others on legislative visits in Albany focusing on the rights of people with HIV/AIDS, funding, disability and poverty issues. Mr. Hayes also facilitates participation of HIV-positive people from upstate New York in national advocacy, including the Campaign to End AIDS. He helped found the New York Transgender Coalition.

Deborah Small is the executive director of Break the Chains, a nonprofit organization that seeks to build a national movement within communities of color against punitive drug policies. Given the high incidence of HIV among the incarcerated, people of color and intravenous drug users, Ms. Small has opened a vital front on the war against AIDS. She is the former director of public policy for the Drug Policy Alliance, and former legislative director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

HOUSING WORKS is the nation's largest community-based AIDS service organization, constantly striving to improve the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. Housing Works provides supportive housing, medical care, job training, case management, advocacy, HIV prevention, counseling and testing services. For more information about Housing Works, please visit

  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

This article was provided by Housing Works. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
See Also
More News on HIV Activism