For the last two months, members of the Clínica Esperanza (Hope Clinic) inside the Mission Neighborhood Health Center have been coming together to create masks that reflect their experience with HIV — whether as a diagnosed patient, a family member, or someone otherwise affected by the virus. To commemorate Monday’s World AIDS Day, the masks will be displayed at a gallery event alongside a ceremony to remember lives lost and celebrate advances in treatment and prevention.
The clinic, established in 1989, offers services to monolingual Spanish speakers, noting that Latinos are the ethnic group with the most new diagnoses throughout California and the second most affected group in San Francisco. As Heather Mack wrote for Mission Local two years ago, San Francisco accounts for a significant number of California’s total HIV/AIDS diagnoses, though local politicians have been pushing to completely eliminate new cases of the illness in coming years.
From a Clínica Esperanza statement:
Since 2004, the HIV Services clinic at MNHC – Clínica Esperanza – has invited clients, staff and community members who are infected or affected by HIV to participate in crafting masks that express their experience with HIV and their hopes for health and well-being for the future. Through these workshops, HIV positive and HIV negative participants alike,work hand-in-hand for a common goal: to fight the epidemic and stigma of HIV through art. These therapeutic workshops are held for two months leading up to World AIDS Day. The finished masks will be exhibited at a gallery event to take place on December 3rd, 2015. In addition to displaying individual masks from the workshops alongside the artist personal reflection, we will have a small ceremony to reflect on the impact of stigma in our community, remember the lives lost, and celebrate the progress made in treatment and prevention. This moving event offers an opportunity to engage in healing conversations.This year we will include a musical performance by Gale Sandoval, a staff member and local artist.
The event runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on December 3 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts at 2868 Mission Street. The event is free and open to the public, though donations are welcome and will go toward ensuring that the event continues into future years.