The New Orleans Society for Infectious Disease Awareness, Inc. (NOSIDA), a local New Orleans non-profit organization, has announced their lineup for the Third Annual HIV Awareness Music Project (HAMP). This year, NOSIDA hosts an exciting evening of diverse and local music dedicated to increasing HIV awareness in New Orleans. The event, planned for December 2nd at One Eyed Jacks, will feature a host of remarkable local artists who support our mission through their music. NOSIDA is proud to welcome to the stage: Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Vockah Redu, and Meschiya Lake and her Lil’ Big Horns.
As with previous years, HAMP 2011 will feature free on-site rapid HIV testing, a prize raffle for charity, and HIV awareness and prevention booths courtesy of the many local HIV service providers that share our commitment and vision.
HAMP is a musical event that is dedicated to raising awareness of HIV in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. “We think that music is an effective mechanism to reach out to young people to promote HIV awareness,” states local HIV physician and Executive Director of NOSIDA, MarkAlain Déry. Dr. Déry, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine, also comments, “Southern Louisiana, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is constantly in the top ten cities in the United States for new cases of HIV and AIDS. There are many reasons why Southern Louisiana has been hit so hard with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Race, poverty and poor education are some of the main drivers for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Louisiana.”
The signature event that differentiates HAMP from other awareness events is the use of artists and other prominent members of the media to perform “mock” HIV testing live, on stage, to demonstrate to the audience how convenient and easy it is to be tested for HIV. Dr. Déry continues, “we use celebrities and media to promote HIV testing. The process for getting tested is simple; it requires that a swab be rubbed on your gums for an instant, and the results are back in a matter of minutes. Live demonstrations by media figures will hopefully inspire others to follow suit and be tested.”
The revenue generated from HAMP will be used to create a Louisiana personalized license plate promoting HIV awareness. A new license plate in Louisiana requires a legislative bill and a payment of $3,500 (refundable after a 1,000 plates are sold). NOSIDA, in concert with Louisiana AIDS Advocacy Network are working on securing legislative action.
For the first time this year, Dr. Déry along with other NOSIDA board members will participate in a 7-day food fast to protest the Louisiana policies that promote an “abstinence-only” curriculum in public school. Despite multiple scientific studies that have shown the inadequacies and abject failure of these policies, the State of Louisiana continues to embrace and promote a curriculum policy, the practical effect of which is to keep Louisiana one of the country’s hot spots for HIV. The 7-day food fast will start one week before HAMP and all those that will be fasting will be keeping daily blogs highlighting the vast shortcomings of the current policies. The blog postings can be found at www.nosida.org.
NOSIDA is committed to raising awareness of HIV/AIDS in Southern Louisiana, through every possible medium. In the last two years, NOSIDA has sponsored three major music events where the artist performed mock HIV testing and free HIV testing was available on site.