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Embracing 20 years of ASAAP

Toronto's HIV org for the South Asian community celebrates milestone

Credit: courtesy of asaap.ca

The Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP) is celebrating its 20th year with a remarkable fundraiser.

ASAAP was created in 1989 as an urgent community response to the death of a South Asian couple. Unable to seek any help because of an absence of services offered in their native language, the couple died of HIV-related illness — in isolation.

Today ASAAP serves more than 90 South Asians living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in the GTA and offers comprehensive services in their native languages. There is careful consideration around effective communication from ASAAP to the public around issues of HIV/AIDS, particularly aimed at connecting with the South Asian community.

While there are no current statistics available on South Asians living with HIV, ASAAP reports that its client base has doubled in the last two years, including a 15 percent increase in women. Meanwhile, discussion of sexual health remains taboo in most South Asian families.

Embrace 2010 emerged as the theme of this one-night only occasion.

With the effort of ASAAP board members, staff, community members and those partners that have previously been affiliated with the organization, a fundraising committee hatched in early 2010 to plan this event.

“Embrace, true to its name, is embracing the agency’s past, present and future” says executive director of ASAAP Firdaus Ali. “We hope to get the South Asian community and other communities involved around issues of HIV/AIDS, safer sex and sexual health through this event.”

Early in the planning stages, committee members agreed that besides hosting a celebration to mark ASAAP’s monumental 20-year anniversary, this event presented an opportunity to fundraise for the organization.

The evening will be hosted by OMNI Television anchor Angie Seth. Highlights of the celebration are a Kuma Sutra Cross-Over fashion show, Bollywood dance performances and stand-up comedy, a performance of “Oy! Just Beat It” by Anita Majumdar and Rose Lal from Toronto’s own Lal Music Ensemble.

There will be an offering of dance workshops throughout the evening, a quilting station, as well as a henna booth. The evening promises to be full of surprises.

For those keen to dance into the wee hours of the night, there will be an afterparty featuring DJ Bugzy and Dr Yvo.

The hope is that Embrace 2010 will further unite the community as one voice, says Ali, and show that only through togetherness can South Asians and their allies stand together to better manage the issue of HIV/AIDS and one day contribute to its defeat.

Embrace 2010

Celebrating 20 years of ASAAP
The Great Hall, 1038 Queen St W
Aug 26, 6pm
$30
asaap.ca
Questions to fundraiser@asaap.ca or 416-599-2727 ext 225