On Tuesday, September 11, the best and brightest scientific minds in AIDS vaccine research will dine at Victory Programs’ Boston Living Center (BLC) in Back Bay for the Faculty Dinner of the AIDS Vaccine 2012 Conference. The conference, running from September 9-12 in Boston, is the largest global scientific conference focused exclusively on AIDS vaccine research.
“Victory Programs is deeply honored to be the site of the international AIDS Vaccine Faculty Dinner at our Boston Living Center,” says President & CEO Jonathan Scott. “The Boston Living Center has a 20-year history of creating a welcoming and empowering community center in Boston for men and women living with HIV/AIDS, making it a perfect fit for the Faculty Dinner.”
Last spring, the BLC was selected by the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research (HU CFAR) as the event venue for its connection to the conference’s mission. “The epidemic is not over, near or far,” says Galit Alter, PhD, Co-Chair of AIDS Vaccine 2012 Conference and Executive Committee member of the HU CFAR. “It is our responsibility to remind ourselves that the development of an effective HIV vaccine is a partnership between academics, industry, and the community. We are not there yet, but we are getting closer each day, and it is an honor to have Victory Programs host the AIDS Vaccine Faculty Dinner at this important meeting of the minds.”
Guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres and a cocktail hour at the Brahmin restaurant prior to a catered dinner at the Boston Living Center on Stanhope Street. Victory Programs hopes to give the scientists and researchers an idea of what it’s like to be a member at New England’s largest community resource center for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The experiential dinner will give guests an opportunity to sit in for one of the 1,300 members the BLC serves each year. Membership to the center is open to anyone living with HIV/AIDS. Each diner will arrive to a card at their place setting with the story of an actual BLC member that shares who they are, when they were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, what the BLC means to them, and their hopes for their future. The speaking program will include a community announcement, which takes place during the BLC’s regular meal program (free Monday dinners and lunches from Tuesday-Friday), and will conclude with remarks from a current member.
Although the faculty members are no strangers to HIV disease, the goal of the evening is to bring the focus back to the people living, struggling and thriving with HIV. “We hope the guests leave with a deep understanding of what our HIV diagnosed members experience each time they walk through the BLC’s wide-open and supportive door,” says Scott.
Victory Programs’ Boston Living Center (BLC) is located at 29 Stanhope Street in Boston’s Back Bay. The BLC is a nonprofit community and resource center that fosters the wellness of all HIV positive people and responds to the changing needs of the HIV/AIDS community. Through peer leadership and support, the BLC strives to enhance and enrich the lives of its members by providing education, treatment information, and support services with the goal of empowering members to live productive lives and participate within their families and communities. The meals program at the Boston Living Center is one of its most popular offerings, providing Monday dinners and lunches from Tuesday-Friday free of charge to members.
Since its inception in 1975, Victory Programs has expanded to 17 health and housing programs in Boston and Cambridge, helping more than 2,700 homeless individuals and families get back on their feet every year. Victory Programs provides services to people who are facing homelessness, addiction, mental illness, or chronic health issues such as HIV/AIDS, providing clients with the tools needed to transition to healthy, self-sufficient lives.