Wednesday, August 10, 2016

MHRI Researchers are Impacting Our Community in Beautiful Ways

Guest post by Katie Carlin, Director, Research Development, Planning and Communications
What a night!
Last Saturday I was able to attend MHRI and MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s HIV H.O.P.E. art exhibit: “FACES: “Fearless Expression; Expresiones Sin Miedo”, held at the Gala Hispanic Theater in Washington, DC. I can’t even begin to describe the pride, courage and sense of accomplishment that emanated from the stage and walls that night!
Like many, I attended the event not exactly sure what I was about to see and experience – I knew that the evening would showcase art work created by The Art and Peer Support Group at MHRI and MedStar Washington Hospital Center.  The Group is part of “HIV H.O.P.E.” (HIV Homecare Outreach Patient Engagement) a program made possible through a District of Columbia Department of Health grant which has provided more than 450 home visits to HIV/AIDS patients and approximately 75 percent of the enrolled, high-risk HIV patients have been able to regain control of their infection.
Seeing the MHRI- MWHC infectious disease group come together to support the courageous, brave and artistic members of the MedStar community was just amazing to watch. The night would not have been made possible without Antonio Pineda who literally planned and hosted the entire event! Antonio is a MHRI Treatment Navigator at the Infectious Disease Clinic at MedStar Health Research Institute at Washington Hospital Center and coordinates the Art and Peer Support Group every Saturday afternoon. Special thanks also go out to: Dr. Glenn Wortman, Ron Migues, Patricia Tanjutco, Cortlen H. Yarbrough, Cleo Johnson, Elya Nassaj Christina Costalas, James Page, and to Stefan Lopatkiewicz, who served as the master of ceremonies.
Stefan Lopatkiewicz (right) as the
master of ceremonies with Antonio Pineda.
Walking into the Gala Hispanic Theatre, I was immediately taken back by the beautiful full-color “masks” on the walls, each created by members of the Art and Peer Support group which empowers the members to express their various emotions and struggles, as well as learn techniques for overcoming depression, isolation, and finding ways to combat the stigma encountered by those who are living with HIV/AIDS.
What I didn’t expect that evening was to be escorted into the main theater to take part in a live artistic show!
Members of the Art and Peer Support Group performed moving dance routines including an originally choreographed work, “Be Strong, ... Carry On”. In addition, they shared personal stories of their life living with HIV/AIDS and the support MHRI and the HIV H.O.P.E program has given them every week. Guests were also treated to outside performances by the Tribal Remix group, Maru Montero Dance Company and professional musicians Stephen Czarkowski, Dr. Scott Beard and tenor singer, Jesus Daniel Hernandez – which by the way, if you have never seen a professional tenor perform live, add it to the list!
Members of the Art and Peer Support Group
Congratulations to Antonio and the entire MHRI infectious disease group for bringing the voices and stories of our MedStar patients to light in such a powerful and special way!
Maru Montero Dance Company


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