By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund (OACF) has joined with some of Oklahoma City’s top restaurants for the Dine Out For a Cure event honoring World AIDS Day. On Sunday, December 1, the public is invited to dine at one of the participating restaurants for breakfast, lunch or dinner. OACF will receive either 10 percent or $1 for each reservation that mentions the organization.
World AIDS Day is celebrated around the globe on Sunday, Dec. 1 each year. The international day is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of the HIV infection and honors those who have lost their battle with the disease. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.
Partnering restaurants include Jones Assembly, Fuzzys, Texadelphia, Seven47, Cheevers Cafe, The Drake, Oklahoma City Museum Café, Mexican Radio, Barrios, Iron Star, Red Prime, Tuckers, Republic, Pritchard, Iguana Lounge, Plant Shop, Stitch Café, Mary Eddys Kitchen and Lounge, Bar Arbolada, The Metro, Pizzeria Gusto, Big Truck Tacos, Mutts Amazing Hotdogs & Burgers, Backdoor Barbeque, Cafe 501, Osteria, Bar Cicchitti, Empire Slice House, Easy E, Goro Ramen, Revolución, and Rococo – Northpark
Participants are asked to wear red and check-in to the location on social media using the hashtag #DineAroundForACure.
Oklahoma Aids Care Fund’s goal is to reduce new HIV transmissions, AIDS-related deaths, stigma and health disparities. The organization works to increase access to care and HIV/AIDS related services such as case managers, medical providers, free testing, free safer sex kits, and emergency services.
OACF was founded by Barbara and Jackie Cooper following the death of their son to AIDS in 1989. Their devastating loss compelled them to reach out to others living with HIV/AIDS and those vulnerable to the disease.
Recently OACF hosted a luncheon to commemorate World AIDS Day and honored Dr. Leonard Slater with the prestigious Richard May Award, presented annually. The event was held on Nov. 15 at the UCO CHK Central Boathouse.
Soon after Slater graduated from the New York University School of Medicine the first cases of AIDS were diagnosed. Slater was training as a resident and fellow in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Einstein College of Medicine when he saw some of the earliest patients with AIDS in New York City. He has recently retired from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and VA Medical Center.
“It is such an honor to be able to present this award to Dr. Slater,” stated Lauren Sullivan, OACF Executive Director. “When he moved here in 1983, only two people had been diagnosed with HIV in Oklahoma. As the epidemic accelerated, he became an original provider to people living with HIV/AIDS. Finally, in the mid-1990s, effective HIV combination therapy introduced the revolution, and that continues today.
“For over three and a half decades, Dr. Slater focused on caring for his patients, teaching medical students, training residents and infectious diseases fellows,” Sullivan added. “Fortunately for us in Oklahoma, he brought his HIV clinical therapy trials here. He engaged federal funding for HIV management in central and western Oklahoma, and worked closely with many other dedicated professionals, providing the best access to care for all Oklahomans.”
The Richard May Award is named in memoriam for one of the original members of the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund. Since its inception, OACF has awarded more than $13 million in grants to local agencies helping Oklahomans living with HIV/AIDS.
The OACF website states, “Every 30 hours another Oklahoman is diagnosed with HIV.”
“Our need for funding remains as great today as it was in the early days of the disease,” Sullivan said. “The miracle of combination therapy in the 1990s has allowed people living with HIV/AIDS to have long, normal lives, with proper treatment. But that treatment is expensive, and our funding helps those who need it most. We thank our donors, because they are truly offering the gift of life to their fellow Oklahomans.”
For more details about the #DineAroundForACure event, to volunteer, donate, or to learn more, visit okaidscarefund.com.