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AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts - www.aac.org

AIDS Action Honors Three Who Are Making Significant Contributions To Fight Against HIV

Longtime HIV educator, local art business, and leading research institute to receive Commitment to Action Awards

BOSTON, November 8, 2013 - AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts will honor three longtime collaborators with its Commitment to Action Award at its annual meeting Wednesday, Nov. 20 at Fenway Health, 1340 Boylston St., Boston. This year's honorees are Cynthia Owens, a grandmother and longtime HIV educator; the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard; and local business Stanhope Framers. The Commitment to Action Awards are given annually to individuals, groups, and businesses whose contributions to AIDS Action serve as an example that a willingness to take action to make a difference can result in lasting change.

"As we continue the difficult and complicated work toward ending the HIV epidemic, we are inspired by the commitment of Cynthia Owens, Stanhope Framers, and the Ragon Institute," said AIDS Action Committee CEO Rebecca Haag. "Their expertise and support have helped to make Massachusetts a national leader in slowing the spread of HIV and improving outcomes for those affected by this disease. We are proud to honor each of them with our Commitment to Action Awards this year."

Cynthia Owens is a mother, grandmother, recovering addict, and a longtime survivor of HIV and domestic abuse. For 20 years she has been sharing her life experience with young students in the hope that they can avoid some of her youthful mistakes. Her message to these young audiences? It could happen to you.

"God has kept me alive to tell my story. I'm here to help someone else not to go down the road I went on," says Owens. "I share my story to educate young people and hopefully save lives, not for the public recognition or praise. But I am very proud and humbled to receive this award from AIDS Action Committee, an organization that has done so much to support me and all people living with HIV."

The Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard aims to find new ways of preventing and curing infectious disease. When it was established in 2009 through a $100 million gift from the Phillip T. and Susan M. Ragon Institute Foundation, Harvard President Drew Faust described The Ragon Institute as an "HIV/AIDS Apollo Project." Its initial focus has been on finding an effective AIDS vaccine. But employees and partners of The Ragon Institute do not limit themselves to fighting AIDS by working on a vaccine; many of them participate annually in AIDS Action Committee's AIDS Walk Boston & 5K Run. Since 2009, The Ragon Institute AIDS Walk Boston Team has raised more than $134,000 to help AIDS Action Committee combat the epidemic. This past year, The Ragon Institute Walk Team raised $50,707, which exceeds every previous grassroots fundraising record set by a Walk team.

"As we work as hard as we can to end the HIV epidemic by contributing to the development of an effective vaccine, we must care for those already infected. There have been great gains in dealing with the HIV epidemic at home and abroad, but it is far from over," said Dr. Bruce Walker, Director of The Ragon Institute. "Importantly, those affected the most are those most in need of support, and AIDS Action has been there for them every step of the way. It has been an honor to help fundraise for AIDS Action through the AIDS Walk, and we will continue to walk each year until the epidemic is over."

Stanhope Framers has been an ally in the fight against AIDS for 30 years. Back in 1984, the fine arts framing company, with locations in Boston's Back Bay and Somerville's Union Square, was one of the first sponsors of ARTcetera, AIDS Action Committee's biennual art auction fundraiser. Stanhope Framers has been participated in every ARTcetera held since. Over the years, under the leadership of co-owners David Murphy and Richard Siegel, the company has donated more than $250,000 to AIDS Action Committee.

"In the beginning of the epidemic, it was terrifying but AIDS Action was there. It was the only place we had to turn," Murphy says. "AIDS Action is still here. The disease is different today, but the need for services remains. Our collaboration with AIDS Action over the last three decades is a source of great pride to us and our company and we're thrilled to receive this award."

The annual meeting takes place from 6-8 p.m. on the 9th Floor Conference Center of Fenway Health Center. Presented by Eastern Bank, the meeting is an opportunity to reflect on the past year of AIDS Action Committee's work, honor those who have gone above and beyond in our community, and share the strategic direction for 2014.

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About AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts

AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is the state's leading provider of prevention and wellness services for people vulnerable to HIV infection. It provides services to one in six people in Massachusetts living with an HIV diagnosis. These services include HIV counseling and testing; needle exchange; mental health counseling; housing assistance; and legal services. AIDS Action works to prevent new HIV infections, support those affected by HIV, and tackle the root causes of HIV/AIDS by educating the public and health professionals about HIV prevention and care; and advocating for fair and effective HIV/AIDS policy at the city, state, and federal levels. Founded in 1983, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is New England's first and largest AIDS service organization. In 2013, AIDS Action formed a strategic alliance with Fenway Health that will allow the two organizations to work more closely together and improve delivery of care and services to people living with HIV/AIDS. Learn more at www.aac.org .


Source: http://www.aac.org/media/releases/aids-action-honors-three.html

Media Contact:
Keith Orr - korr@aac.org | 617.450.1210


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