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Building Awareness on World AIDS Day

November 25, 2009 10:00 AM
Alicia Duplessis Jasmin aduples@tulane.edu

To increase awareness about HIV/AIDS and to raise funds to help local agencies fighting the disease, Dr. MarkAlain Dery is hosting a benefit concert in New Orleans in conjunction with World AIDS Day on Tuesday (Dec. 1). A website — the HIV/AIDS Music Project — also will be launched the same day to present music to educate people about the epidemic.

World AIDS Day"New Orleans is No. 2 in the nation in cases of HIV and AIDS followed by Baton Rouge, which ranks No. 3 in the nation," says Dery, instructor of clinical medicine of infectious diseases at Tulane. "People are dying and our state leadership continues to make drastic cuts to our budgets. Unfortunately it's my patients who suffer."

The concert organized by Dery will feature entertainers Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave, Kermit Ruffins, Soul Rebels, Fleur De Tease Burlesque Revue and 5th Ward Weebie. It begins at 6 p.m. at the Howlin' Wolf, 907 S. Peters St. Advance tickets are $15 and may be purchased at thehowlinwolf.com. Tickets are $20 at the door.

On-site oral swab testing and literature on HIV/AIDS also will be available at the concert.

Nghana Lewis, associate professor of English and African and African Diaspora studies, and Dr. Richard Witzig, associate professor of clinical medicine of infectious diseases, have created an HIV/AIDS Music Project website that goes online on the same day as Dery's concert and with the same goal in mind: increasing awareness about the disease.

The website will feature more than 1,500 songs, including the music of artists in many genres, to encourage dialogue about HIV/AIDS. Lewis and Witzig are pairing the database of songs with a curriculum they are developing for AIDS prevention education.

The curriculum will include lesson plans that can be adapted for instructional use by K-12 schools, institutions of higher education and local intervention agencies and organizations. It will be available in summer 2010.

The music website will go live on Tuesday.