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Latino Commission on AIDS Honors Advocates at Cielo Latino Gala

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Sunday May 25, 2014

On May 14, at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, The Latino Commission on AIDS honored advocates at the Cielo Latino Gala. Among those honored were Mondo Guerra, Maria Mejia and Janssen Therapeutics.

"This is a night full of hope and commitment to continue our journey and complete our mission to design a world without AIDS because of the incredible partnerships that have come together to make this evening possible in support of our work," said Guillermo Chacon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS.

Designer and Project Runway star Mondo Guerra, HIV & AIDS advocate Maria Mejia, and pharmaceutical innovator Janssen Therapeutics received awards at the largest fundraiser for Latino/Hispanic AIDS initiatives in the U.S., surrounded by a room full of stars, fashionistas and leaders from the business, community, media, and health industry.

Actor Tony Plana and NBC4 New York anchor Sibila Vargas hosted the evening as awards were bestowed to the honorees by celebrity presenters that included actors Rosie Perez, Ally Sheedy and Ismael Cruz Cordova, and designers Sully Bonnelly, Victor de Souza and Layana Aguilar.

Singer, producer and composer Henry Santos was inducted as the newest Padrino (Godfather) of the Commission by its current Madrina (Godmother) Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler. Both will serve as ambassadors in support of the Commissions HIV, AIDS prevention and education initiatives.

The event came alive under the theme Designing a World Without AIDS (Diseñando un Mundo sin SIDA), a campaign that the Commission launched last year and will continue as it gears up to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2015.

The Cielo candle, the first of a new line of scented candles by the newly established company, Concentration de Parfums, was introduced at the event and lit symbolically to pay tribute to the individual and organizational contributions of the honorees in addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS and to the legacy of the Latino Commission on AIDS and its leaders. It sells online for $80; all proceeds will go to support the Latino Commission on AIDS.

"We are holding a candle for our cause," said Richard Gonzalez, co-founder and CEO of Concentration de Parfums and chair of the Cielo Latino benefit committee. "We produced a limited number for this initial introduction but our goal is to have the Cielo candle in our line permanently. We hope the public will join us in our effort to give back in commemoration of the Commission’s hard work in the fight against AIDS over the last 25 years."

The evening featured a silent auction that included an exclusive design for the evening by Latina designer Cenia Paredes, which was sponsored by Macy’s, and was capped with entertainment by the dance troupe Baila Society and the legendary Jose Alberto "El Canario." Other sponsors included Gilead, Merck, ViiV Healthcare, Bloomberg, NBC, ABC, HBO, and many others.

The funds raised from Cielo Latino allow the Latino Commission to continue to provide critical and vital services to thousands through its innovative programs and initiatives, and millions more through its national social marketing education, awareness, outreach, and bilingual treatment education campaigns.

"As we begin to plan for our 25th anniversary next year, we must reflect on our past and recommit to innovate and execute education, prevention, treatment and capacity-building strategies to continue responding to AIDS, as well as viral Hepatitis and other health threats to patients in need, in order for us to reach our goal," said Chacon.

The Latino Commission on AIDS (Commission) is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1990 dedicated to meet the health challenges and addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS. The Commission is the leading organization coordinating National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (May 15), National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (October 15), Latinos and the Deep South, and other prevention, research, capacity building, and advocacy programs across the United States and its territories. The Latino Commission is the founder of the Hispanic Health Network, dedicated to eliminate health disparities in our communities.

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Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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