New Pornographers benefit AIDS Network

Tomorrow evening, Monday, April 21, Madison music fans will be in for a treat when the “power-poppy” New Pornographers — featuring Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Kurt Dahle, Todd Fancey, Carl Newman and Blaine Thurier — play the Orpheum Theater. The Pornographers are touring in support of Challengers, an album that the group consciously made with a more organic, less synthetic sound in mind, bringing in a full string section.

The band, whose name was derived from a Japanese film titled “The Pornographers” and has drawn comparisons to a Jimmy Swaggart quote calling rock and roll “the new pornography,” will unfortunately be without the accompaniment of the iconic redhead Neko Case, as reported by Madison’s own Muzzle of Bees. Case reportedly took a bad fall while on tour in Washington, DC, and despite attempting to play the following the two shows, has chosen to leave the tour and recuperate from her injuries. Nevertheless, the show is sure to be a memorable one, as the Pornos are accompanied by the also-wildly-talented Okkervil River as their openers.

Monday’s show will also serve as a benefit for the Wisconsin AIDS Network, with $1.00 from every ticket sold going to the Madison-based office. AIDS Network’s mission is to provide support, education and opportunities for well being to everyone touched by HIV/AIDS in south central Wisconsin and has been providing care and prevention services to the area since 1985. As the media’s focus has often shifted the focus of HIV/AIDS news coverage to focus on the African continent, where the disease has reached epidemic levels, many may not be aware that HIV continues to pose a threat to national and local public health.

“For Prevention, our biggest obstacle is complacency,” said Shawn Neal of AIDS Network. “When we go out and talk about HIV & AIDS within communities, many members of high risk communities [including but not limited to men who have sex with men and intravenous drug users] do not see themselves as being at risk. They know HIV exists, but don’t believe they could become infected.

“Those who have survived the 1980’s and early 1990’s when HIV infection was at its peak have now become relaxed in being safe. There isn’t that fear anymore of becoming infected. It’s easier to educate someone about HIV who doesn’t know about it and is concerned, then to change the already belief by many that it happens to ‘those’ people that they don’t associate with.”

AIDS Network has also encountered the recent stress of funding cuts limiting the scope of services they can offer to the over 350 clients they serve. Recently, the Emergency Financial Aid (EFA) program was cut entirely. EFA provided essential transportation or grocery vouchers for the organization’s clients, most of whom live in poverty. Without the program, clients face hardship in being able to get to medical appointments and to meet basic needs such as food, heat and electricity.

The impact of HIV/AIDS on south central Wisconsin (view recent, statewide statistics here) reaches far beyond the lives of AIDS Network’s 350 clients, including an estimated 800 HIV-diagnosed individuals in the area who don’t utilize AIDS Network’s services and even more individuals who are currently HIV positive without knowing so. These were numbers that Neal found to be particularly of note when asked to address skeptical readers:

“A person who tested positive for HIV didn’t believe all his or her life that he or she would be HIV positive one day. The dangerous thing someone can do is be ignorant that HIV is in his or her community, among his or her friends and/or is always in front of their face even if they claim to not see it. I meet people all the time that say they don’t know anyone who is HIV positive as they stand beside someone who happens to be positive. HIV is a virus that people are still discriminated against for having and so is still very undercover.”

If you’d like to help a very worthy cause in addition to some kick-ass music, be sure to come out to the Orpheum on Monday evening. Tickets are still available for $22 in advance or $25 on the day of the show.

– Joe Erbentraut, True Endeavors Communications and Public Relations Intern