Aunt Rita’s Inaugural ‘Picnic in the Park’ Commemorates World AIDS Day

Aunt Rita’s Foundation will celebrate World AIDS Day to raise awareness of the ongoing battle against HIV with its inaugural Picnic in the Park on Dec. 3 at Portland Parkway Park in Phoenix. The community-oriented event offers the opportunity to view the National AIDS Memorial Quilt displays and includes live music, food trucks and activities.

Sponsored by the Matthew B. Harty Family Foundation, Picnic in the Park “honors loved ones lost to the epidemic and celebrate the advances in treatment and prevention that move us closer to ending the epidemic,” said Aunt Rita’s Foundation executive director Jimmy Thomason.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 84 million people have been infected with the HIV virus since the beginning of the epidemic that has claimed the lives of nearly 40 million men, women and children. In 2021, 650,000 people died of HIV-related illnesses worldwide. In the United States, reports that approximately 1.2 million people are living with HIV, and nearly 13 percent are unaware they are infected.

“The fight is not over,” Thomason said. “We have won and are winning some battles, but with nearly 35,000 new infections reported by the CDC in the U.S. in 2019, we have much work to do.”

The theme for World AIDS Day 2022 is “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV.” It encourages people across the globe to eliminate disparities and inequities that create barriers to HIV testing, prevention and access to care.

With roots in Phoenix since 1988, Aunt Rita’s Foundation is dedicated to the elimination of and suffering from HIV and AIDS through collaborations with Arizona HIV service organizations and local and statewide government agencies. Aunt Rita’s Foundation helps fund HIV programs at 14 nonprofits through more than $2 million in grants.

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About Julie Coleman

Julie Coleman is a contributing writer for Frontdoors Media. She is Principal of Julie Coleman Consulting, providing strategic philanthropy consulting services for individuals, families, businesses, foundations and nonprofit organizations.
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