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Jussie Smollett to host Heroes in the Struggle

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 9/11/2017, 9:17 a.m.
The Black AIDS Institute will induct a select group of individuals and organizations that have made commendable heroic contributions to ...
Jussie Smollett, currently starring as Jamal Lyon in the Fox primetime series Empire, will host the annual Heroes in the Struggle Gala and Award Celebration, Sept. 16. Black AIDS Institute

Special to The Dallas Examiner

The Black AIDS Institute will induct a select group of individuals and organizations that have made commendable heroic contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Black America during its 16th annual Heroes in the Struggle Awards Presentation and Reception. The event is scheduled to be held Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Darryl F. Zanuck Theater of the 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles.

The 2017 inductees include Taraji P. Henson, Laverne Cox, Vanessa Williams, Alfre Woodard, Gina Belafonte and Gina Brown. The 2017 Corporate Hero is Novant Health. Black AIDS Institute Board Member Jussie Smollett will serve as chair and host. The 2017 theme is Black Men Honoring Black Women, and celebrated R&B singer/songwriter Ledisi will perform a special tribute. The awards presentation will be produced by Russelli & Hall.

“At the age of fifteen, I began working with the Black AIDS Institute and I am proud to be a member of the Board of Directors,” Smollett said. “Although it is not spoken about like it used to, the AIDS epidemic is not over, especially in Black communities. I am humbled to pay tribute to these remarkable women in our community.”

Nearly 100 individuals have been inducted into the Heroes in the Struggle Hall of Fame over the last 16 years. It is a photographic tribute to HIV/AIDS allies; elected officials and policy makers; artists from television, film, stage and music; civil rights leaders; health care providers; advocates and activists; and people living with HIV/AIDS. Since its debut in 2002, the exhibit has traveled the world – raising awareness; challenging Black Americans, key thought leaders and institutions to get involved in their communities; and generating critical conversation about HIV stigma, testing, prevention, treatment and care.

“Black women are the single most important engine in the survival of Black people, including with HIV/AIDS,” said Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. “Fifty-nine percent of women living with HIV in the United States are Black. Black women account for 60 percent of the new HIV infections among women, and are 16 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than White women. This event not only allows us to acknowledge the invaluable role Black women have played in the AIDS fight, but it helps raise awareness about the devastating impact AIDS continues to have on Black women and the opportunities we have to turn that around if Black men and women work together.”

Tickets and sponsorship packages are priced at various levels, from VIP packages to a limited number of community seats.

“Because the event is completely underwritten by major donors, every penny raised goes directly into efforts to end the epidemic, help people get into care and stay in care, protect themselves from HIV infections, and advocate for sound HIV/AIDS policies,” Wilson said.

For more information about purchasing tickets, becoming a sponsor, joining the host committee or placing an advertisement in the program book, go to http://www.heroesinthestruggle.org.