As the vibrant rainbow flags and joyful celebrations fill the streets, Pride Month arrived once again to remind us of the strides made toward equality, acceptance, and love. Today, we’re thrilled to turn the spotlight on our partner, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). Throughout the year, AHF works tirelessly to provide critical support, raise awareness, and combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic, making a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals worldwide. Join us as we sit down with Max Alvarez, Director of Events and Community Engagement, to talk about AHF’s extraordinary work and commemorate their invaluable contributions during Pride Month and beyond.
Q: Can you tell us about your role and experience with AHF?
A: I’ve been with AHF for almost six years and started through one of their affinity groups called Impulse, which focuses on social issues for gay men. I fell in love with Impulse’s model, which aims to educate the community about testing, treatment, prevention, and advocacy. I worked closely with the president of Impulse and together we combined entertainment with advocacy (edu-tainment), finding creative ways to deliver important messages to the community. As someone who faced a lack of resources as a teenager, being part of Impulse allowed me to extend support to others who might be going through similar experiences. With my current position at AHF, I still contribute to Impulse as a member, and I remain a strong supporter of all the affinity groups within AHF.
Q: Can you tell us more about AHF’s mission?
A: AHF’s mission revolves around cutting-edge medicine and advocacy, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. We fight for resources and funds through initiatives like our 340B program advocacy. Additionally, we partner with community organizations, operationally assist our affiliates, and organize events like the Florida AIDS Walk & Music Festival and AIDS Walk Atlanta Music Festival & 5K Run to provide benefits and support.
We also have the Healthy Housing Foundation, which implements adaptive reuse, meaning we buy historic buildings and renovate them for housing. Our Housing Is A Human Right division advocates for rent control and affordable housing to ensure people have a stable environment to manage their health. Because we know that having a home not only provides physical security but mental security as well.
Another newer program is our Food for Health initiative, which focuses on providing nutritional food at a lower cost or even for free, partnering with local farmers and food banks.
Q: How does AHF integrate sexual wellness and well-being into its mission?
A: AHF recognizes that sexual wellness and well-being are essential components of overall health. While HIV/AIDS prevention and education are central to our work, we also address broader aspects of sexual health. Through our initiatives and events, we strive to promote safer sex practices, offer resources, and create a supportive environment for individuals to make informed decisions about their sexual health.
Q: How does AHF approach events and how do they help combat stigma around HIV/AIDS?
A: AHF’s approach to events focuses on the edu-tainment model, aiming to make learning about important issues enjoyable and engaging which creates a space for socializing, engaging with peers, and accessing resources. And we combat stigma by normalizing conversation. I think as a society we’re taught to stigmatize almost everything. But at AHF, we’re completely unapologetic about our messaging. I think that that’s the beauty of us. We’re very upfront; we’re very outspoken about it. We tell it how it is, and the community spaces are really just about bringing those conversations to people where they are.
Q: What events does AHF have coming up?
A: Next month we’re partnering with 50 organizations, celebrity ambassadors and over 2000 supporters to peacefully march in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday, July 2nd to protect our democracy. There have been nearly 1,000 bills introduced that threaten not only our freedom but seek to undo 70 years of progress. For more information, you can visit wtpmarch.org and if you’re in the area, make sure to RSVP and join us! This fall we have AIDS Walk Atlanta Music Festival & 5K Run and many activities planned. Stay up to date and follow @aidshealthcare on Instagram!
Thank you to Max, for sitting down with us and sharing more about AHF’s life-saving work!