LGBT health facility Mazzoni Center will pay tribute to its namesake next week with an event that will look back on the late physician’s role in the progress of the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities in Philadelphia.
The agency will mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Dr. Peter Mazzoni Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. at the organization’s offices, 21 S. 12th St., 10th floor.
The event will include remarks by current staffers as well as community members who knew Mazzoni, and readings from a memorial service held shortly after his death. Panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt created in Mazzoni’s honor by Dignity Philadelphia will also be on display.
Mazzoni Center launched in 1979 as a health subcommittee at the William Way LGBT Community Center’s predecessor, the Gay Community Center. The group became known as the Lavender Health Project and, in 1981, became the Philadelphia Community Health Alternatives.
Mazzoni was influential in the group’s growth, serving as the agency’s medical director.
Mazzoni was an openly gay physician and himself HIV-positive, and administered care to countless individuals infected with the disease at a time when stigma was at its peak.
He died in 1990 at age 31. PCHA launched its Mazzoni Clinic testing center in 1995 in his honor, renaming the entire agency after the late physician in 2003.
Mazzoni Center executive director Nurit Shein said that while Mazzoni’s pioneering work was cut short by the disease, the agency tries to carry on his commitment to providing high-quality service to marginalized communities.
“If we think of how much he accomplished — and it’s just extraordinary how much he accomplished — in such a short span of adulthood, what could he have achieved had he lived longer? I think that’s the legacy,” Shein said. “We need to continue his work as if he were still here. This young man was extraordinary and we hope that we are living up to his name with the work that we do every day.”