Phill Wilson celebrates 60th birthday with fundraiser for the Black AIDS Institute
Phill Wilson, 1961
By April Eugene
The Black AIDS Institute’s (BAI) annual fundraiser will be held in conjunction with the 60th-birthday party of Phill Wilson, its president and CEO. The gathering will take place Saturday, April 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. In lieu of birthday gifts, Wilson asks that friends and supporters make charitable donations to the Institute. “There is nothing more important that I could ever ask for as a birthday gift than a donation to the Black AIDS Institute,” he says.
The Institute was founded in Wilson’s living room in 1999. He has devoted more than half of his life to raising awareness of HIV/AIDS—a life that was predicted to end before his 28th birthday. Wilson has now lived with HIV/AIDS for more than 30 years.
To celebrate Wilson’s 60th year of life, the Institute will carry out a “60” theme, with ticket prices starting at $60 and increasing in $60 increments. “There’s going to be a celebrity roast, singers, a DJ, a band and surprise guests,” he says. “And most importantly, there’ll be lots of dancing and singing and drinking.”
Actress, singer and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph is a strong supporter of Wilson’s: “We celebrate the life work of Phill Wilson, and thank God that he has survived! When many were afraid to live their HIV-positive truth, Phill built a road for others to follow.”
All charitable contributions will help the Institute continue to promote awareness in Black communities through HIV science and treatment trainings and HIV testing events, as well as help link HIV-positive people to care and other preventive services, all offered from an unapologetically Black point of view that demonstrates that Black Lives Matter.
“We are committed to ending AIDS, and to do that we need to make sure that people understand the AIDS epidemic is not over, and the donations help us raise awareness,” Wilson says. “We have the tools to end the epidemic, and people need to know how to use those tools.”
Although Wilson looks forward to a grand celebration, he understands that not everyone can come to Los Angeles.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you are, whether you can be in L.A. on April 23 or not, you can participate in this celebration by donating,” Wil-son says.
For more information about the birthday party, and for those unable to attend but who would like to donate, please visit phillwilson60.com.
April Eugene is a Philadelphia-based writer