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Eve Reaches Out to Lower East Side Teens

Eve connected with the PTI teens and the workshop participants. Photo: Eric Walter
Henry Street Settlement

Hip Hop artist and M·A·C Viva Glam spokeswoman Eve paid a visit to Boys & Girls Republic (BGR), a program of Henry Street Settlement, on November 28 in anticipation of World AIDS Day. She participated in an HIV education and prevention workshop with Lower East Side high school students and distributed safe sex kits in the neighborhood to teens and young adults.

A team of eight students from Henry Street's Peer Training Institute (PTI) conducted the informative session with Eve for about 30 teens from BGR's New Beginnings school and other after-school programs and took her to Avenue D for street outreach. PTI trains adolescents to become peer educators and advocates for HIV/AIDS education and prevention and sexual health. Young people are increasingly affected by the disease. The New York City Commission on HIV/AIDS recently reported findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that half of all new HIV infections are among individuals under the age of 25. Peer intervention is a proven method of avoiding infection.

Darrell Tiebout, PTI Program Coordinator, reviewed the importance of World AIDS Day, December 1, with the students in the room: to spread awareness of how the disease is spread and who’s getting infected, to encourage people to get tested, and to recognize people who are HIV-positive and those who have already died of AIDS.

This year alone, Tiebout reported, over three million people have died of AIDS, and 4.5 million more have become infected. A show of hands of everyone who knew someone who was infected with HIV or who has died of AIDS—at least half of everyone in the room—underscored the closeness of the subject to the participants' lives.

"World AIDS Day is one day," said Tiebout. "To fight AIDS, we need to work at it every single day."

John Demsey,Group President of Estee Lauder Companies, Chairman of the MAC AIDS Fund and Henry Street Fall Gala Honoree, thanked the students for their participation before introducing the performer. "She wants to help you," he said. "She has a lot to say, and she wants to hear what’s on your mind."

M·A·C Cosmetics created the Viva Glam lipsticks to raise funds to distribute through the M·A·C AIDS Fund to support people affected by HIV/AIDS, which Demsey chairs. The fund benefits programs, such as Henry Street's Peer Training Institute, that address HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment for those affected by the virus.

"You are helping educate us and Eve," said Nancy Mahon, Executive Director of the M·A·C AIDS Fund. Indicating the press photographers in the room, she added, "And with all these cameras, you are helping educate the world."

The peers also acted out skits in pairs to demonstrate healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors, presenting issues including HIV infection, STDs, pregnancy and peer pressure.

Participants shared stories in a frank and open forum, and Eve seemed to connect with them instantly. She told the peers and the other participants that she was impressed by their efforts to educate themselves about HIV and AIDS. She said she was also pleased to see that the teens were allowed to be so candid. “Thank you for letting them talk how they talk and letting them be themselves,” she said, addressing the adults and the Program Coordinators.



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