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First generation to discuss surviving AIDS crisis, healing the community

NEW YORK -- Hundreds of New Yorkers who lived during the worst devastation of the AIDS years, joined by leading educators and scientists, will come together in a free panel discussion and town-hall meeting to discuss the unique challenges they face as a group.

Titled "Is This My Beautiful Life? Perspectives From Survivors of the AIDS Generation," this first-ever community forum will take place on Thursday, May 9, from 7-9 pm, in Mason Hall at Baruch College, 17 Lexington Ave. (enter on 23rd Street). The space is wheelchair accessible.

The panel discussion will be followed by a public forum for attendees to discuss their experiences, share their challenges and ask questions of panelists.

The event is free but pre-registration is required HERE.

This town hall is particularly targeted at gay men in midlife, whether HIV-positive or HIV-negative; all person living with HIV; former and current AIDS activists, caregivers, and service providers; and New Yorkers who lost friends, lovers, and colleagues to AIDS.

The evening will be hosted by the Tony Award-winning star of "Angels in America," Stephen Spinella. It will begin with short presentations by experts on aging, activism, mental trauma, and chronic disease.

The panel of experts will be moderated by Dr. Perry N. Halkitis (associate dean for research and doctoral studies, professor of applied psychology and public health, NYU Steinhardt, professor of population health, NYU Langone School of Medicine and author of the soon-to-be-released book, "The AIDS
Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience").

The speakers are:

EPIDEMIOLOGY & DATA: Jim Eigo, activist, regulatory reformer, writer

ACTIVISM & SOCIAL CAPITAL: Peter Staley, ACT UP New York & Treatment Action Group

MEDICAL: Dr. L. Jeannine Bookhardt-Murray, Harlem United

AGING: Dr. Mark Brennan-Ing, AIDS Community Research Initiative of America

GLOBAL PERPSECTIVE: Jesus Aguais, Aid for AIDS International

GAY COMMUNITY: Joe Jervis, Joe.My.God

"As the youngest of those people now enters middle age, it's clear that - like soldiers - the AIDS generation suffers even after its fight has abated," event co-organizer John Voelcker said.

"Many members of the group that fought the ravages of the epidemic, buried its brothers and sisters, and endured a war that the rest of the world felt it could ignore seem to suffer what may be something similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Their depression rates are higher, they may engage in unsafe sex, and a few of those with HIV inexplicably stop taking the lifesaving anti-retroviral medications that saved their lives 15 years ago," he said.

This event has been funded through the generosity of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It has been organized by The Medius Working Group, a disparate group of activists who seek to honor their late friend Spencer Cox, an activist keenly aware of the unique needs and concerns of AIDS-generation survivors.

Participating sponsors include ACRIA; The Actors Fund; Aid for AIDS International; Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; Callen-Lorde Community Health Center; Center for Comprehensive Care; Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies at NYU; Friends in Deed; Gay Men of African Descent; GMHC, Harlem United; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center; SAGE; Sero Project and Treatment Action Group.