Common Ground ñ The Westside HIV Community Center, formerly known as Santa Monica AIDS Project, is scheduled to host a benefit Saturday, June 23rd, to raise money and awareness for its prevention and care services for persons at risk or impacted by HIV/AIDS.

The benefit will recognize local community activists in the fight against HIV/AIDS through Humanitarian Awards.

The June 23rd event marks Common Ground’s 15th year of providing vital HIV/AIDS services to the community on the Westside, organization officials said.

Common Ground will be honoring Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Dr. Bisher Akil, and the Junior League of Los Angeles with the Humanitarian Award for their contributions, efforts and activism for people impacted and affected by HIV/AIDS.

In addition, State Senator Sheila J. Kuehl has given a Senate Concurrent Resolution to Common Ground. The resolution marks Common Ground as a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, organization officials said.

“From 1982 through 2006, nearly 3,000 individuals were diagnosed with AIDS on the Westside of Los Angeles County,” said Sharon Chamberlain, Common Ground executive director. “As of December 31st, 2006, there are over 1,100 individuals living with AIDS on the Westside.

“With Common Ground being the only agency on the Westside providing a full range of HIV/AIDS services, clearly there is a great need to raise awareness in our surrounding community.”

Founded in 1992, Common Ground has grown into an organization with three core programs, including peer education for high school-age youths, case management for people living with HIV/AIDS, and outreach services for homeless individuals.

Programs include mental health, treatment advocacy, outreach to women and people of color, youth drop-in services and direct medical care linkage. All services are provided in both English and Spanish.

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