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Film, gala on May 20 will benefit new HIV awareness group, the ArcHIVe Project

SAN DIEGO -- A screening of the film “Philadelphia” and a gala later this week will benefit a new grass-roots group called the ArcHIVe Project.

The film will be shown on Friday, May 20, at the Birch North Park Theatre, followed immediately by a gala at the Sunset Temple Ballroom nearby.

The ArcHIVe Project is an up-and-coming organization that aims to shed light on what life is like for those affected by HIV and AIDS. The group is archiving the stories of people who have been affected by HIV and sharing their lives with the world to hopefully reduce the stereotypes and stigmas that are often attached to the disease.

The gala will have hosted beer, wine and appetizers as well as a silent auction, art display and live music. The silent auction will include items donated by the San Diego Symphony, Hornblower Cruises, Karl Strauss Brewery and many other local businesses.

Project founder Rodney Rodriguez said he’s expecting 300 to 400 people for the events.

Rodriguez said he was compelled to start the ArcHIVe Project after a close friend was diagnosed with HIV.

“I was the first person he told outside of the doctor’s office,” Rodriguez said. “His progress, difficulties and triumphs all affected me. I wanted to do something that showed the reality of HIV.”

“The people who participate in the project have likened it to the It Gets Better campaign,” Rodriguez said. “They say it feels good to get it off of their own chest, and sharing it for others, letting them know it’s going to be OK. To let them know that someone understands what you’re thinking and feeling.”

Thirty years ago, the term “living with HIV” seemed like an oxymoron. Because 30 years ago if you contracted HIV, you were more than likely going to spend the majority of your days in a hospital, ingesting an exhausting variety of pills. It just didn’t seem like “living” with HIV then.
Such is not the case today. With medical advancements, the life expectancy for someone living with HIV is significantly higher than it was for the previous generation, as is the quality of life that goes along with those increased years. Even though HIV is now considered by many to be a manageable disease, if caught early on, the stigmas that are associated with being HIV-positive still remain for many.

One of the men Rodriguez interviewed recently grabbed at what can only be referred to as his own spare tire around his midsection and jollily explained that, “I’m not going anywhere,” when asked about his 26 years of living with HIV.

The ArcHIVe Project’s screening of “Philadelphia” will begin at 7:30 pm on Friday, May 20, at the Birch North Park Theatre. The gala at the Sunset Temple Ballroom, which is across the street from the theater, will begin immediately after the screening.

The price of the gala is $25, which includes a ticket to the screening as well as hosted beer, wine and appetizers. To go to the screening alone is just $12. For more information or tickets, click HERE.