Group combines HIV, STI awareness with cupcakes

HIV and STIs might not be a subject most women regularly discuss with their friends, but an organization is encouraging South Mississippi women to get together for a girl-powered afternoon of information, fun and sweets.

The Red Pump Project is bringing one of its signature programs, Cupcakes and Condoms, to the MGCCC Hospitality Resort Management Center, 420 DeBuys Road, Biloxi. The program will be Aug. 27 from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

At the free event, women and teen girls will have the opportunity to hear from a panel of female activists, advocates and experts who will discuss HIV, the stigma of the disease and other issues surrounding the epidemic, according to The Red Pump Project. Female condom demonstrations also will be offered. And yes, there will be cupcakes.

The group’s website says “The Red Pump Project is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. We empower, educate and motivate action by boldly driving conversation online and offline around HIV prevention and issues related to sexual and reproductive health. We use the Red Pump as a symbol of empowerment to represent the strength and courage of women affected by HIV/AIDS.

“Red Pump believes that if HIV affects one, it affects us all. We use a powerful symbol for a powerful cause. The incorporation of fashion into the message of HIV prevention is our contribution as we hope to show that awareness is always in style.”

The nonprofit started in 2009 as a social media campaign among bloggers to recognize National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, observed annually on March 10. Since then, it has grown from an online project to events as well as maintaining an online presence.

The first Cupcakes and Condoms event was in 2012, and events have been held in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, Birmingham, Washington and Charlotte.

This year, Biloxi is included with cities such as St. Louis, Philadelphia, Little Rock, Los Angeles and Miami.

A stop in New Orleans is scheduled for Nov. 19.

According to The Red Pump Project, every 47 minutes a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States and HIV is the leading cause of death for black women ages 25 to 34.

Tickets to the free event are available at