AIDS/HIV Services Group Holds Drag Bingo for World AIDS Day - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

AIDS/HIV Services Group Holds Drag Bingo for World AIDS Day

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Just days before this weekend's World AIDS Day, Charlottesville's AIDS/HIV Services Group is turning to some leading ladies to promote awareness.

This is the first time ASG has held drag bingo in several years. The organization brought it back in part to raise funds for a holiday dinner, but also to support a community that has always been on the front lines of fighting HIV and AIDS.

It was bingo served with a little bit of glitz, and a lot of glamour.

The night of fun and entertainment was in support of a much more serious cause. With the help of two ladies of illusion, drag bingo is setting out to raise enough money to serve a holiday dinner to hundreds of ASG clients.

"Unfortunately, we have no funding for it, so we really rely on events like this to raise funds and do those sorts of events for our clients," said Robert Rodney, ASG care coordinator.

"I think it's a good opportunity," said Libra Johnson, who attended the event. "This is a great way to reach out. I'm actually thinking about coming out to more of these."

On Saturday, ASG will celebrate its first World AIDS Day in its new facility on Tenth Street and Jefferson Street. While education and care remain the priorities for preventing the spread of the virus, even 24 years after the first World AIDS Day, leaders say there is still a lot of work to be done.

"It's really important that ASG is here," said Peter DeMartino, executive director of ASG. "There are about 1,000 people living in the Thomas Jefferson district with HIV or AIDS and we know that 20 percent are not aware of their status, and out of those 1,000 people there's only about 250 that are actually receiving the appropriate level of care."

But drag bingo comes as a reminder that even in tough times, faced with the most dismal of challenges, a community finds a way to pull through.

"We decided that we really wanted to embrace our drag community. They really were the first community that stood up and took a stance against AIDS back in the 80s, so it's great to have that connection with the community again," Rodney said.

DeMartino says people should also remember the issue isn't limited to just one community, but affects all of us.

The holiday dinner is scheduled for December 19. This Saturday, ASG will hold an open house from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. in honor of World AIDS Day.

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