Positive Heroes speaker series

Jeanne White-Ginder with her son, Ryan, before his untimely death in 1990. Photo provided.

Stories of hope & strength from those affected by HIV/AIDS

Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund (OACF), a fundraising and advocacy organization, announced the Positive Heroes Speaker Series aimed to educate and empower attendees in an effort to fight the stigma often surrounding people affected by HIV/AIDS.

The inaugural event will take place Tuesday, July 25, at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel at 5:30 p.m. and will feature keynote speaker Jeanne White-Ginder, one of the most prominent HIV/AIDS activists today.

White-Ginder’s story began at the height of the AIDS epidemic after her son, Ryan White, contracted AIDS following a blood transfusion to treat his hemophilia. He died in 1990, the same year White-Ginder lobbied Congress for the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource ACT (CARE Act).

The Act created the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, now providing support to 52 percent of Americans living with HIV/AIDS, providing medical care and services to those who are uninsured or underinsured.

Currently, White-Ginder speaks regularly to audiences nationwide about her experiences on the frontlines of the AIDS epidemic in its early years and the role HIV/AIDS stigma plays in fueling the epidemic today.

“Fear and anxiety are the largest obstacles for HIV treatment and the main reason patients avoid being tested in the first place,” said Cher Golding, Executive Director of OACF. “Until we can start widespread conversations about HIV education and prevention and quiet the stigma surrounding a positive diagnosis, there will continue to be an HIV/AIDS epidemic in Oklahoma.

“We hope the compelling story of Ryan White’s fight will begin positive conversations and continue to serve as a catalyst for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in Oklahoma.”

During the inaugural event, the OACF will also present the Richard May award to an individual who has gone above and beyond to promote HIV/AIDS education, prevention, care and treatment service. Nominees can be anyone striving to meet the challenges of HIV/AIDS at the local level. The nominee should have a minimum of five years’ experience working in the field of HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma.

For information on how to nominate someone for the Richard May award or for tickets and event information on the Positive Heroes Speaker Series, please visit positiveheroesok.com or call (405) 348-6600. Event tickets start at $65 and a meet and greet opportunity with Ms. White-Ginder is available for $150.

OACF is a fundraising and advocacy organization dedicated to providing financial support and resources to HIV/AIDS service providers in the state of Oklahoma. Since its inception in 1991, OACF has awarded more than $12.5 million for HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs to organizations in Oklahoma. OACF was organized by Barbara and Jackie Cooper following the death of their son to AIDS. Dealing with this devastating disease firsthand compelled them to reach out to others living with HIV/AIDS and those vulnerable to the disease.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – July 12, 2017 @ 11:20 a.m.