Stories of Celebration in Red for World AIDS Day

Celebration in Red will be held tonight, December 1, 2015 at the Biltwell Event Center in Indianapolis. With guests wearing something red, the well-recognized color of HIV awareness, the event will feature live entertainment, the debut of a limited edition, red line of fashion accessories (pocket squares, bow ties, and jewelry), a silent auction, a photo exhibition, and great food and drinks. Event proceeds will benefit support services for HIV-infected children in Kenya.

The things I love most in my closet all have stories. The 1960s orange knit shift dress from a vintage shop in Athens, Greece that reminds me of an adventure week with my dear cousin. The necklace with a gold bird pendant that my grandmother gave me for my 12th birthday that tells me she believed I could fly.

As a pediatrician who specializes in caring for children with HIV in the world’s poorest places, I collect many stories  — stories that get packed in my suitcase in the form of dresses and jewelry, but even more stories that are packed in my heart.

We will celebrate World AIDS Day on December 1, and I want you to share in the stories of the thousands of women and children in my HIV clinics in Kenya.

I am carrying around Sarah’s story today. Sarah has been living with HIV since she was born. She feels deeply grateful to be 13 years old. Her two sisters both died from HIV, as did her mother.

Sarah almost died herself a year ago from a terrible pneumonia. Then, she had to adjust to the horrible news that she, too, was infected with the virus that killed her family.

But, when I saw Sarah in Kenya a few weeks ago, she walked into my clinic proudly, wearing her school uniform and smiling at me with shining eyes. Sarah was holding a report card full of perfect marks – straight As. The pride and hope beaming from the two of us could have lit up the entire hospital.

I told Sarah that HIV was NOT the end of her story. It was just one small part of the beautiful story of who she is and who she will become.

If you want to change the stories of children living with HIV, come to a party. Celebrate Sarah and the 37 million people worldwide living with HIV at Celebration in Red for World AIDS Day at the Biltwell Event Center on December 1. The proceeds will benefit HIV-infected children in Kenya cared for through Indiana University School of Medicine.

Through our fashion-oriented philanthropic organization, The Pocket Square Project, we offer counseling services and peer support groups in Kenya for youth just like Sarah. To support children living with HIV, we host entertaining events and sell pocket squares, bow ties, and hand bags handmade from traditional Kenyan kitenge fabric. Our fashion accessories tell a colorful story of how you are fighting HIV for children.

Join our story. Wear something red and come to Celebration in Red for World AIDS Day.

Dr. Rachel Vreeman, Director of Research for the Indiana University Center for Global Health and Executive Director of The Pocket Square Project

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