Until the Cure: 2BeatHIV Celebrates HIV Cure Research Day 2017

Written By: Elle

Photo Credit: Kimberly M. Knight

There’s always time for a celebration and even though our most recent festivities held more serious connotations, one could still feel excitement in the air when I walked into Eastway Elementary School on December 14, 2017. Children playing basketball, soulful music with good vibes sounding through the background and a whole medley of radiant faces buzzing throughout the building.

Now the question posed is what are we celebrating? Well let's get straight to it…

The city of Durham as well as the state of North Carolina has officially proclaimed December 14th as HIV Cure Research Day and this is a major milestone for the 2BeatHIV project. 2BeatHIV is a research project based at UNC’s Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease and Department of Social Medicine. They are the actual fieldwork involved in examining social and moral aspects of curing HIV. This is their second annual celebration for HIV Cure Research Day.

I was already excited from just knowing the purpose of the project in its entirety and being able to witness it up close and personal. However, my excitement was amped up just a smidge when I realized we were being graced by our very own K97.5 host Autumn Joi and music by DJ Rem.E. The celebration was definitely official. Upon first entering this space, I have to admit I was immediately drawn to the big mural right in the very front. It was of a smooth DJ dressed in what I can only believe was a green Adidas throwback sweatsuit that reminded me of the days I listened to Hip Hop on the radio and recorded tracks on cassette tapes...so yes I’m showing my age right now. But as I looked a little closer I realized this painting was much more than just a picture but a message that encaptured the many aspects that affect our community. Not only do we come together in music and culture but also to pave ways implementing positive change around us as people. That’s what this event was about; to share experiences, to reach and teach each other and most importantly to save each other so that having simple pleasures like vibing out to good music isn’t taken for granted.

The place was full of vendors from the Durham area who were willing to do just that; help and inform. I was fortunate enough to speak with just a few. One being Soiesette who is a “Truth Coach”. She shared her journey of being diagnosed with HSV II (Herpes Simplex 2). After learning that someone close to her was living with AIDS, she realized the importance of not only physical treatment but mental healing as well.

What do you want people to benefit from events such as this?

I want to share my story and to help keep it from happening in their lives. It’s not a gift in having an STD or STI, true. But the gift is in knowing your status. Once you know your status, that gives you a better focus on how to live.

Organized by Kimberly Knight, Graduate Research Assistant of the 2BeatHIV project, this event had a full menu. Patrons received giveaways to wine tastings and even a gift certificate to Durham’s Beyu Cafe. We were also granted the pleasure of enjoying poetic verses accompanied by melodic sounds of Dasan Ahanu and Justin The Beloved performing “Spit for a Cure”. I was able to bounce around and even join games that were informative on HIV Cure Research demonstrating how the virus interacts within the body and what measures research is taking to completely eradicate it.

  Dr. Allison Mathews pictured with HIV Cure Research Day Award Recipient LeDarrius Turner  

Dr. Allison Mathews pictured with HIV Cure Research Day Award Recipient LeDarrius Turner  

Later, I was able to speak with Dr. Allison Matthews, Project Founder of 2BeatHIV. She shared some of her thoughts on the event and future goals.

What are some of your future goals involving 2BeatHIV?

I would love to see other communities have events for this day. Our long term plan is to develop tools that people can use to do these events in their own communities and talk about clinical trials. People think it’s (HIV) a death sentence but it’s not and basically they can live a healthy life. We want people to get comfortable in discussing clinical trials and trusting scientists. I’d like to have more events to educate people and help them get a better understanding of the advancements we have made that come from clinical trials and research.

So indeed, we did celebrate. In North Carolina, December 14th now represents a day of purpose and hope. This event exemplifies the meaning of community when people come together to bridge gaps to healthier lives and focus on one common goal; #2BeatHIV.

“Till the cure is in our grasp, we keep our eyes on the prize.” ~Dasan Ahanu

Elle

Keep in Touch: Follow @2BeatHIV on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

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Kimberly Knight