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Winter 2008


ACRIA played a prominent role in last year's United States Conference on AIDS, held in Palm Springs, California, in November 2007.

Associate Director for Research Stephen Karpiak, Ph.D., who was co-principal investigator of ACRIA's groundbreaking Research on Older Adults with HIV (ROAH) study, chaired and spoke at a roundtable presentation on "The Graying of HIV." Other participants in the discussion were ACRIA Executive Director Daniel Tietz and consultant J. Edward Shaw.

We also had our first-ever USCA exhibit booth, staffed by HIV Health Literacy Program Administrative Coordinator Gustavo Otto. Conference attendees who visited our booth were able to learn a lot about ACRIA's work and were given a CD that contained a large sampling of educational materials and a complete copy of the ROAH report.

A broad range of the HIV Health Literacy Program's educational materials was displayed, including several issues of ACRIA Update and copies of all five of our existing educational publications -- all in both English and Spanish versions -- along with order forms. Of special interest was information about our newest booklet, the soon-to-be-published Older Adults and HIV, which generated a large number of prepublication orders.

Welcome, Robert!

ACRIA is pleased to welcome Robert Burke, founder and principal of the leading New York City luxury consulting business Robert Burke Associates, to our Board of Directors. Before founding RBA in early 2006, Burke spent eleven years at Ralph Lauren, overseeing that company's fashion operations in the U.S. and abroad, and in 1999 moved on to become senior vice president of fashion and public relations at Bergdorf Goodman.

Congratulations, Martha!

At its April meeting, ACRIA's Board of Directors elected Martha Nelson as its president, and she was welcomed to her new post at a special reception held on November 19. Over fifty Board members, donors, and friends of ACRIA attended this event, held at Donna Karan's Urban Zen boutique.

A recognized leader in the magazine industry, as Group Editor at Time, Inc., Ms. Nelson supervises five titles, including People and InStyle magazines. She has been an ACRIA supporter since 1997 and a Board member nearly that long. She succeeds long-time ACRIA Board president Ross Bleckner.

Dinner Benefits ACRIA

ACRIA's Twelfth Annual Holiday Dinner benefit, held on December 11, raised a record-breaking $300,000-plus to support our vital research and health literacy services for people with HIV and those at risk.

Over 200 guests joined ACRIA in honoring National Advisory Council member Bob Colacello for his longstanding support for ACRIA and his deep commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Donna Karan once again hosted this very special evening at her Stephan Weiss Studio, along with co-hosts Ross Bleckner, Reinaldo and Carolina Herrera, Charla Lawhon, and Martha Nelson. Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton was on hand for a special performance. Special thanks for the success of the evening go to supporters InStyle magazine; Paul Beirne; Urban Zen; Altria; Andre Balazs Properties; HL Group; John Hardy, Ltd.; and Calvin Klein, Inc.

Thank You, Partners

ACRIA's HIV Health Literacy Program wants to thank staff of our partner agencies that have provided sites for our staff and client workshops: Denise Mauro of the Salvation Army; Janice Sinkler of the Jamaica Hospital Medical Centers; Patrick Dolby of Housing Works in Brooklyn and Robin Lutz of Housing Works in Manhattan; Cesar Barreto of Hostos Community College; Carlene Numa of FACES; and Lorena Flores of Steinway Child and Family Services.

Artists' Foundations Support ACRIA Study

ACRIA's ongoing research into issues important to people with HIV over the age of 50 has gained support from the estates of two prominent artists lost to AIDS. The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and the Keith Haring Foundation have each contributed $50,000 to ACRIA to conduct a study aimed at demonstrating that depression can be rapidly identified and given sustained treatment in a high-risk population of HIV-positive people over 50.

Robert Mapplethorpe was a photographer whose black-and-white images ranged from flowers and portraits of famous people to explicitly homoerotic and sadomasochistic themes. It was the latter that made him a lightning rod for controversy, particularly in frequently acrimonious debates over public funding for the arts. Keith Haring's subway-style art and "radiant" images are instantly recognizable and often imitated.

Both artists died of AIDS-related illnesses during what was perhaps the darkest period of the epidemic, Mapplethorpe in 1989 and Haring in 1990. As Julia Gruen, Executive Director of the Keith Haring Foundation noted in her letter notifying ACRIA of the award: "Had they been fortunate enough to survive, both Keith and Robert would have been among the older adults living with HIV targeted by the study. The Board felt it appropriate that the generosity and foresight of these two artists would benefit their peers who survived them."

The study, which is already under way, is being led by ACRIA's Associate Director for Research Stephen Karpiak, Ph.D., and Senior Research Scientist Mark Brennan, Ph.D. It is being conducted in cooperation with Harlem United.

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This article was provided by AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. It is a part of the publication ACRIA Update. Visit ACRIA's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.