In our nation’s capital, one out of every 20 residents is HIV positive; additionally, the fastest growing rates of infection are among African-American women and young gay or bisexual African-American men. Almost 40% of those infected are over the age of 50. The AIDS epidemic is a community issue that transcends the barriers of age, race, and sexuality, and for this reason, an entire community will unite to walk, run, and raise funds in search for a cure.
On Saturday, October 26, Whitman-Walker Health will host the 27th Annual AIDS Walk Washington, a 5K fundraiser to benefit Whitman-Walker Health, as they continue to provide dependable, high-quality healthcare to those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. This year’s campaign theme “face the facts: walk the walk” addresses the stigma still commonly associated with this disease, sending a clear, strong message that our community can’t ignore the facts. We must do something about this epidemic.
“It’s really an issue for anyone who’s sexually active in D.C.,” says Chip Lewis, Deputy Director of Communications at Whitman-Walker Health. “What we really want to do is shake people out of the complacency they have about HIV. There’s a lot of complacency within our community as treatments have become more effective.”
Funds raised from the event will also benefit a variety of local community partners including Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), Casa Ruby, and Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), where LGBT youth in the District can receive free and confidential HIV testing and services. These community partners will receive 80% of the money raised from their participation.
“100% of the proceeds go to HIV care, services, and to one of 12 community partners and organizations,” says Lewis. “All money raised goes to medical and mental healthcare, testing, research, social services, community partners, and services that will care for people who have HIV.”
Registration for the event is $25 for walkers and $35 for runners. Students and senior citizens receive a discounted walk rate of $15. AIDS Walk Washington will begin and end at Freedom Plaza, Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
The event will kick off at 8:15 a.m. with an uplifting program of music, speakers and warm-up exercises. The 5K-timed run begins promptly 9:15 a.m. The event will close with a celebration of great musical performances and recognition of the top fundraising individuals and teams.
“The main thing that people should do is continue to get tested regularly for HIV,” says Lewis. “Everybody should get tested and talk openly and honestly with their partners, friends, and family. That’s one of the best things that you can do to take that stigma away that’s preventing us from responding to this epidemic more effectively.”
Tagg Magazine is getting on the action as well. To join or donate to the Tagg Magazine AIDS Walk Washington team, click on the link : http://www.aidswalkwashington.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=5307. All proceeds raised from AIDS Walk teams benefit Whitman-Walker Health and their community partners.
Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast who wants to run the timed 5K or simply a reader who wants to participate in the search for a cure, the AIDS Walk is a great way to give back to the community.