Health Department Celebrates Third Annual R.E.D. (Remembering-Empowering-Doing) Ball to Recognize World AIDs Day 

Free HIV Testing, condoms, #PlaySure Kits, and information on HIV prevention offered at the R.E.D. Ball

The Kiki community and Ballroom-scene is traditionally a space for individuals to express themselves freely, with additional access to HIV prevention services, testing and counseling


December 2, 2016 – The Health Department today will join Kiki Ballroom Hall of Famer Symba McQueen in hosting the third annual R.E.D. (Remembering. Empowering. Doing.) Ball at the Altman Building in Chelsea from 5 pm to 11 pm. Inspired by New York City’s House Ballroom culture, the R.E.D. Ball will feature free HIV testing, live performances, information on HIV prevention and treatment, and appearances by House and Ballroom legends. The R.E.D. Ball is a space for individuals to express themselves freely and openly in creative ways, with additional access to HIV prevention services, testing and counseling. Attendees are invited to participate in a World AIDS Day-themed fashion show/runway competition, styled by McQueen. Runway categories will include: The Voice, Campaign as a House, Staff Category, Sunday Church, Old Behavior, Meet These Hands, Aliens vs. Predators, Cold Boots, Dance 4 You, and Angels and Demons. Winners of each category will be chosen by a panel of judges. 

“I am proud to once again join our community partners for the third annual R.E.D. Ball,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “This year, we have reached a record low of new HIV diagnoses in New York City, but there is still work to do to address those who are disproportionately affected by HIV, including the Black, Latino, and transgender communities. As we remember those whom we lost to HIV/AIDS, we celebrate the fact that we are now closer than ever to ending the epidemic.”

“Every step on the runway and every pose in the competition reminds me that our job in New York City is to spread love and respect for our community,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Assistant Commissioner for the Health Department’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control. “By doing this we will end HIV in our City and serve as a beacon for the rest of the world.  I’m inspired by a line from Malcolm MacLaren’s House Ball anthem, Deep in Vogue featuring Willie Ninja: ‘Sometimes on a legendary night, when the crowd is calling down the spirits, listen, and you will hear all the houses that walked there before’.  The R.E.D. Ball is a legendary night! Icons and Legends, NYC walks with you!”

HIV/AIDS Surveillance Data
The Health Department’s recently released 2015 Surveillance Report (PDF) includes graphs of trends in HIV diagnoses for key populations, maps displaying the geographic distribution of HIV in NYC, and measures of key outcomes such as linkage to care, viral suppression, and mortality among people with HIV. Overall, the report shows continued progress in reducing HIV diagnoses and deaths in NYC, in line with key goals of the State’s Ending the AIDS Epidemic initiative. The annual number of new HIV diagnoses in New York City has fallen below 2,500 for the first time in the history of the epidemic, and there were no HIV infections diagnosed among infants born in NYC in 2015 – a major achievement within the overall elimination of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV. In 2015, 2,493 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in NYC, compared to 2,718 in 2014 and 5,902 in 2001, the highest recorded number of new HIV diagnoses since HIV case reporting began in New York State.

HIV and AIDS diagnoses, prevalence, and mortality continue to disproportionately affect certain populations. Care outcomes and survival rates also reveal marked disparities. In 2015, people newly diagnosed with HIV in NYC were predominantly male (81 percent), Black or Latino (78 percent), aged 20-39 (62 percent), people living in high-poverty areas (53 percent), or men who have sex with men (MSM) (58 percent). Among MSM, Black and Latino men comprised 71.5 percent of new HIV diagnoses. The proportion of people in HIV care who achieved viral suppression was lower among women, Blacks and Latinos, and younger people with HIV. Five-year survival following HIV diagnosis was lowest for Blacks, Asian/Pacific Islanders and those living in high-poverty areas.

Stay Sure Media Campaign & #PlaySure Kit

In keeping with the sex-positive messaging and images of other recent media campaigns such as “Be HIV Sure” and “Play Sure”, “Stay Sure” promotes different HIV-prevention options including use of daily pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), emergency post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and condoms (for STI and HIV prevention) while also encouraging New Yorkers living with HIV and those on PrEP to stay engaged in care and treatment/prevention. The citywide campaign also includes PEP-specific ads that promote availability of PEP at City STD clinics and other Health Department supported sites.

In December 2015, the Health Department launched #PlaySure – a novel HIV and STI prevention campaign. The goal of this sex-positive campaign was to reach all New Yorkers and encourage them to choose their preferred HIV and STI prevention tools, regardless of their HIV status. To complement this campaign, the Health Department developed an innovative safer sex toolkit, the #PlaySure Kit. The #PlaySure Kit holds everything New Yorkers need to play sure –condoms, lubricant, and the prevention pill of a person’s choice (e.g., HIV medications for prevention or care). Over 50,000 kits have been distributed to New Yorkers since World AIDS Day 2015, when the kit was originally unveiled. The Kit helps New Yorkers design the safer sex plan that fits their lifestyle and needs. #PlaySure Kits are available for free at participating community organizations and at many community events throughout the year. Distribution locations are also available by calling 311. 

About the Kiki Community
The “Kiki Ball Scene” is a youth-led, subset of the larger mainstream House and Ballroom community. The LGBTQ Kiki Ballroom scene originated from social gatherings – "kikis" – at health outreach organizations where members of the Ballroom community could get together to socialize and practice for the mainstream balls, as well as get connected to HIV prevention services, testing and counseling.

About World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. Since 1988, World AIDS Day has been held each year on December 1st as 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 lost their lives to HIV.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Christopher Miller/Julien Martinez: (347) 396-4177,
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov