Rock AIDS Returns for World AIDS Day 2012

By : Steve Blanchard
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The powers behind Metro Wellness and Community Centers will bring back a dormant event to celebrate World AIDS Day this year. On Dec. 1, Rock AIDS will return with a new location and a new attitude behind it.

“We’re putting a different spin on it,” said Kathie Michael, fundraising and events specialist with Metro. “The last one was an evening concert at Jannus Landing in St. Petersburg in 2006. It was an evening concert.”

This year, Rock AIDS will be resurrected at the Lowry Park bandshell, just outside of the Zoo, on Dec. 1 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The celebration will feature four bands and remind the public that HIV/AIDS is still a very real and very dangerous disease.

“The population of younger people that is still contracting the disease is very high,” Michael said. “Save sex is important and getting tested on a regular basis is also important.”

Too many people, especially youth, Michael believes, sees HIV/AIDS as a manageable disease and therefore don’t take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

“We have huge programs here within Metro that address prevention,” Michael said. “And we’ll have our mobile RV at Rock AIDS to offer on-site testing and education.”

When someone does test HIV-positive, Michael said that Metro Wellness staffers are prepared to guide them into programs to begin treatment.

While the message of Rock AIDS is about the disease, it’s also about celebrating as a community. Four bands – John Q, Roundhouse Social, Donni Bennett Band and the Talk to Mark Band – will perform throughout the day and a food truck rally, beer garden and vendors will be positioned strategically around the area.

A more public venue and a larger group of musicians will hopefully pull in about 500 people this year, Michael estimates.

“We’ve worked closely with Jan Robinson (the original founder of Rock AIDS) and she has given us a lot of materials to help bring the event back,” Michael said. “We are taking it over with her blessing.”

Metro Wellness and Community Center performs more than 3,500 HIV tests each year and has reached 500,000 individuals through its programs, events and outreach.

The Lowry Park band shell is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa. Rock AIDS 2012 is free and open to the public. However, donation areas are available for those wishing to help the organization and its mission.

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