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World AIDS Day is Saturday; AID Atlanta names Woolard interim executive director

Former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard tapped as interim executive director for Midtown organization that works to save and transform lives with a continuum of care that provides access, linkage, and retention to HIV care.

World AIDS Day is held on December 1st each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

In observance of World AIDS Day, Mayor Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta has partnered with (RED)™ to illuminate City Hall red throughout he month of December. For the third consecutive year, Atlanta will join more than a dozen cities around the world to illuminate landmarks red for World AIDS Day and raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

A harrowing stat is that Fulton County comprises 10 percent of Georgia’s population, but accounts for 54 percent of the state’s AIDS cases. 

In January 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded a $4.5 million grant to Fulton County to implement high impact HIV prevention programs in both Fulton and DeKalb Counties. The overall goal of the grant is to identify more residents who are HIV infected but are unaware of their status and to link those individuals with medical services and treatment.  The CDC estimates that over one in five HIV infected persons are unaware of their status.

In Georgia, Fulton County was eligible for the grant because the number of HIV infected persons in the County represented greater than 30 percent of all of the HIV infections in the 28-county Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The grant funding will be phased in over five years.

Globally an estimated 34 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for you to learn the facts about HIV and put your knowledge into action. Another great source for information is Midtown-based AID Atlanta, located at 1605 Peachtree Street. It is one of the organizations that benefits from the annual AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run that was staged last month in Midtown’s Piedmont Park.

It is the largest AIDS-related fundraising event in the Southeast with more than 10,000 participants, including over 1,000 runners. Friday, Nov. 30 is the last day that donations for the 2012 event can be accepted.

Also, this week the board of directors of AID Atlanta announced in a press release that it had named former Atlanta City Council President, Cathy Woolard, as interim executive director.

More from the press release:

(Woolard) brings extensive non-profit executive management expertise as well as a broad knowledge of the city’s corporate and civic leadership. She will continue to maintain the client base at her public affairs company while she leads the organization in its 30th year. AID Atlanta also announces that it was awarded a grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to fund an organizational assessment to study the changes in the AIDS service organization landscape, which it expects will inform its search for a permanent executive director.

“This is an exciting time for AID Atlanta. In its 30th year and under new leadership we’re embarking on an assessment to determine the strengths needed in a permanent executive director,” said Mark B. Rinder, chairman of the board of directors of AID Atlanta.

"I'm very excited to work with the board and the management team of AID Atlanta during this pivotal time of transition for the agency," said Woolard. “Our fundraising efforts remain strong and we’re going into 2013 with confidence.”

Woolard is a familiar face in the Atlanta non-profit arena. In addition to her role in public office, Woolard has provided public affairs consulting and interim executive management for a number of organizations including the Human Rights Campaign, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, Metro Atlanta Arts and Culture Coalition and Planned Parenthood of Georgia. She also held the position of executive vice president, global advocacy and external relations at CARE. Woolard currently serves on the boards of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and the Atlanta Medical Center.

AID Atlanta saves and transforms lives with a continuum of care that provides Access, Linkage, and Retention to HIV care. The continuum begins with proven effective HIV prevention programs that avert new infections, encourage HIV testing and promote early HIV diagnosis. Newly diagnosed individuals are linked to primary health care and a comprehensive suite of programs that work in concert with one another to improve health, provide basic needs, address mental health issues, and improve quality of life. AID Atlanta programs are proven effective at improving health outcomes as measured by reduced viral loads and higher CD4 counts, the two key indicators of health for those who are HIV-positive. For more information, visit www.aidatlanta.org.

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