From the Gloucester Daily Times, October 14, 2014:
The Gloucester-based North Shore Health Project is celebrating 25 years of serving Cape Ann residents infected with and affected by HIV, AIDS and hepatitis C with a gala and concert featuring a top secret musician.
The event, which will be held Friday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, will feature performances by Antje Duvekot and Meg Hutchinson, and local singer-songwriters Allen Estes, Marina Evans, and former Entrain member Brian Alex, along with a special surprise guest.
“I’m very excited to see this person — he’s got a big draw,” said Susan Gould Coviello, executive director of North Shore Health Project and an Essex selectman. She said she could not release the name ahead of the performance. “I’m thrilled that he’s donating his time to play.”
The North Shore Health Project was formed in 1988, but the group believes this year to be its official 25th anniversary. Coviello said the project is “really ready to celebrate what we consider our 25th year in business.” The group was founded by a concerned group of people tired of losing their friends and neighbors to HIV and AIDS. In 2005, it expanded to include hepatitis C in response to the growing epidemic.
“We got sponsors to help defray the cost, because although it’s a celebration it’s also a fundraiser,” added Coviello about the gala. “We currently serve about 140 clients, and that’s only about a fraction of the people who are infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.”
North Shore Health Project offers medical case management and support groups to its clients, as well as an array of holistic services. Patients can participate in meditation, acupuncture, and reiki, to name a few. Coviello said the staff asks clients for feedback after sessions to gauge the helpfulness of each service.
The holistic services “help reduce anxiety, alleviate depression, it helps them sleep better — and patients take those practices home and [they] help them get through their day and through their week,” said Coviello, who also noted that massages can sometimes be the most human contact some patients have in a day.
Many patients with HIV/AIDS or hepatitis C struggle to overcome the stigmas and prejudices associated with the virus and disease. AVERT, an international HIV and AIDS charity working to prevent new cases, noted that “fear of contagion coupled with negative, value-based assumptions about people who are infected leads to high levels of stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.”
Such stigma can discourage patients from seeking diagnoses or treatment, and can add unnecessary difficulties to day-to-day life.
“The North Shore Health Project has offered case management and more to residents of Cape Ann and beyond for 25 years,” said Board President Donald Maier, M.D. “Its services are tailored to meet the needs of each individual client with an emphasis on holistic supports which, combined with strong physician collaboration, ensure that clients are empowered to maintain optimal health during treatment.”
Tickets to the event can be purchased at www.rockportmusic.org/north-shore-health-project.