As Amsterdam’s world-renowned week of Gay Pride festivities drew to a close on August 4, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) had a memorable presence at the closing event through Amsterdam’s Out of the Closet Thrift Store. Models – most with their faces and bodies artistically painted in a shimmering rainbow of hues – strutted down a runway showcasing the types of inexpensive, high-fashion items one can find at the Out of the Closet Kringloopwinkel on Jodenbreestraat, where 96 cents of every dollar earned goes towards funding HIV/AIDS treatment, testing, and advocacy in 28 countries worldwide.
An estimated 8,000 people attended the Gay Pride Closing event in Rembrandt Square on Sunday, where AHF Amsterdam hosted the fashion show and operated an information booth at the adjacent Rainbow Market along with a multitude of local LGBT and social organizations. Also, just five minutes away from the Rembrandt Square festivities, free walk-in HIV testing was provided inside the Out of the Closet Kringloopwinkel at 158 Jodenbreestraat that afternoon and evening.
“People travel from around the world to attend Amsterdam’s Gay Pride events, so it was our honor to showcase how easy and fashionable it can be to help fight the spread of HIV and AIDS worldwide through our Cheap Chic Fashion Show and information booth,” said Chris Vermaak, store manager of the Amsterdam Out of the Closet. “We were also very excited to offer an opportunity for free HIV testing so that people can not only take pride in being exactly who they are, but also in doing all they can to protect their health and live well.”
Next week, AHF Europe – the bureau which oversees the Amsterdam team, among many other nations – will continue its efforts with an important presence at the 2013 World Out Games in Antwerp, Belgium: a tent there will be manned by specialized counselors and a doctor providing free, confidential HIV testing using INSTI rapid test kits, which provide accurate results in just 60 seconds.
The free HIV testing, along with private counseling and an abundance of sexual health information, will be provided on August 8th, 9th, and 10th in a tent at the Rainbow Market by multilingual AHF representatives to serve the 20,000 people from 25 different countries who are expected to visit Antwerp for the event.
AHF’s HIV testing is being offered at the end of the Out Games in an effort to also reach out to visitors who are traveling to Belgium for its Pride Festival, which begins just after the Out Games culmination. Additionally, AHF team members will be present for the entirety of the World Out Games (which run from July 31st to August 11th) distributing about 30,000 condoms and 5,000 safer sex packets containing condoms and lube.
AHF is partnering with local community-based organization SENSOA Belgium to refer anyone who tests positive for HIV to immediate care. SENSOA representatives will also help AHF distribute condoms and safer sex packets in area gay bars during the event.