Black AIDS Coalition Presents “Fashion Forward”

By Jesse
Brooks

Melinda Pierson Photo by Tiana Sisay

The Black Coalition on AIDS (BCA) on the eve of its 25-year celebration presents “Fashion Forward ” in San Francisco.
The event is the fourth in a series of health and wellness community meetings entitled “No Regrets: Black Women Addressing Our Own Health and Wellness.” State Senator Mark Leno will present a proclamation to BCA honoring its work in the community.
The No Regret series, scheduled every third month, is designed to empower women in San Francisco with health information and resources, helping them become health leaders and advocates.
Disproportionately high rates of STDs and HIV in the Black community create the likelihood of being exposed to an infected person much higher for Black women. This means that even though Black women are engaging in fewer risk behaviors than White women, in order to not get infected, they have to do much more to protect themselves.
Presented in an Oprah-style talk-show format, “Fashion Forward” will explore how attire often indicates self-confidence and pride, which can reduce risk to HIV infection or transmission. Open and candid dialogue will eliminate HIV stigma and prove that prevention can have sex appeal.
The “No Regrets” series is the brainchild of BCA’s health educator Melinda Pierson, who also serves as moderator.  The program is intended to help fill the gender gap in health advocacy, especially pertaining to HIV/AIDS, she said.
“I strive to make each No Regrets event a supportive and affirmative space for women to establish dialogue on how HIV/AIDS impacts their lives,” said Pierson, who has been working at BCA for four years.
BCA began as a group of community individuals who responded to the urgent needs of the African American community that was being devastated by HIV/AIDS. It came together to address the fact that there were no agencies available to provide culturally sensitive services to Blacks affected by HIV/AIDS. The group created a community-based, coalition-building organization to ensure Black people would receive appropriate services and be adequately represented in policy decisions.
“Fashion Forward” will be held Friday, Jan. 7, 6 p.m., at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street in San Francisco. Dinner and childcare services will be provided. In addition to AT&T and Catholic Healthcare West, other sponsors include the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, San Francisco Chapter; San Francisco Housing Development Corporation; Brystol-Myers Squibb; and AIDS Health Project. The event will be filmed by award-winning filmmaker Kevin Epps.