19th Annual “Vaccine-O-Licious” Drag Pageant For HIV Awareness And Research

June 11, 2024

On Sunday, June 9th, 2024, New York Blood Center’s Project ACHIEVE and Harlem-based Columbia Research Unit hosted their 19th Annual Vaccine-O-Licious event.

The event was in partnership with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and AIDS Healthcare Foundation at Queer Bar 3 Dollar Bill in Brooklyn.

The event was co-hosted by New York City drag superstars Stella D’oro and Jus Jahlisa with performances by Amanda Pörq, JMV, Jayse Vegas, and AriaJae. The theme of this year’s event was “Volunteer, Vaccinate and Vote!” where the organizations worked to encourage attendees to register to vote and participate in the upcoming election.

The event is held each year during pride month and includes a drag competition featuring 8 contestants, where the winner, Jei’Lanye Nelson, was named Mx Vaccine-O-Licious 19. Project ACHIEVE and Columbia Research Unit also hosted a table with HIV education materials and sign up opportunities for future HIV prevention studies.

“We are thrilled to be able to host the 19th annual Vaccine-O-licious at the iconic Queer bar 3 Dollar Bill for the second consecutive year in a row. This event is essential to continuing Project ACHIEVE’s mission to increase community awareness about the essential HIV research and prevention efforts here in New York City, with hopes of raising awareness about the need for a preventative HIV vaccine,” said John Bonelli, Community Engagement and Recruitment Manager at New York Blood Center’s Project ACHIEVE. “We are grateful to our incredible drag performers, community partners and advocates who show up for us every year and work tirelessly to put on a spectacular event. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Pride Month!” 

“This event is an important part of our work and our mission, and we are excited to host it with Project ACHIEVE,” said Magda Sobieszczyk, MD, MPH, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the  Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons and Principal Investigator of Columbia Research Unit. “It is an amazing, celebratory, and fun way to educate about HIV and sexual health and empower the communities to have their voices represented in HIV prevention research.”

“It seems surreal that we are celebrating our 19th year of Vaccine-o-licious. This entire enterprise developed because the host at a Manhattan club nicknamed me The Queen of Vaccine back in 2005 when I first began performing,” said Stella D’oro, Co-Founder of Vaccine-o-licious and Queen Mum of Vaccine. “It has grown and blossomed (as I have blossomed into the Queen Mum of Vaccine!) into this important educational and recruitment tool that reaches beyond the original nightlife component and includes the multi-faceted communities in NYC concerned and affected by HIV/AIDS.” 

New York Blood Center’s Project ACHIEVE conducts HIV prevention research, including studies spanning all phases of HIV vaccine research as part of an international effort to find a preventive HIV vaccine. The program also conducts intervention trials to develop innovative ways to help participants reduce their risk of HIV infection. 

Project ACHIEVE works in communities throughout the city to distribute HIV prevention materials, build acceptance and support for research, and engage participants for new studies. This program recognizes the health disparities that underserved and marginalized communities face, and works towards bridging those gaps. Project ACHIEVE strives to reach communities most impacted by HIV and populations underrepresented in research including Black communities, Latinx communities, gay communities, transgender communities, youth and young adults, women of color, and older adults.

New York Blood Center Enterprises

Founded in 1964, New York Blood Center Enterprises (NYBCe) celebrates 60 Years of Extraordinary Lifesaving Research, Innovation and Impact. NYBCe is one of the largest nonprofit, independent, community blood centers in the world. Along with partner organizations Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD), Community Blood Center of Kansas City (CBC), Connecticut Blood Center (CTBC), Memorial Blood Centers (MBC), Nebraska Community Blood Bank (NCBB), and Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC), we collect approximately 4,000 units of blood products each day and serve communities approaching 50 million people in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT), mid-Atlantic area (PA, DE, MD), Kansas City metropolitan area, Minnesota, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Southern New England. NYBCe delivers lifesaving blood products and services as well as clinical, medical, pharmaceutical, testing, and consultative services to over 600 hospitals and dozens of research organizations, academic institutions, and biomedical companies. Among other milestones, our Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute pioneered the Hepatitis B vaccine and patented a solvent detergent plasma process, innovating blood-purification technology world-wide. For more information, visit nybc.org or projectachieve.org.

Columbia Research Unit in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Columbia

We conduct innovative research in HIV prevention and treatment, sexually transmitted infections, and COVID-19. Our work has helped set standards of care domestically and internationally. Our research is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH)  and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn more about our work and community engaged research: columbiaresearchunit.org.

Photo credit: 1-5) Source.

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