Philadelphia Gears Up for AIDS Walk/Run
On October 20, the 27th Annual AIDS Walk Philly & AIDS Run Philly will bring nearly 15,000 people together to raise funds for HIV/AIDS organizations.
"AIDS Fund was founded with the philosophy that each of us can make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS and in the lives of those living with the virus," said AIDS Funds Executive Director Robb Reichard. "While much has changed over the past 30 years of the epidemic, our volunteers, donors, and participants understand that we are a long way from a cure, and that many of the people living with HIV require supportive services to live long and healthy lives."
The event will begin and end on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Runners will trek along Martin Luther King Drive for 5K, beginning at 8 a.m. Walkers will step off at 9 a.m., and walk 12K along Martin Luther King Drive back to the museum.
The event first began in 1987, when volunteers from Philadelphia’s lesbian and gay community center decided to organize a walk-a-thon to support area AIDS agencies and raise public awareness about the disease. The Greater Philadelphia Region’s first AIDS Walk had about 300 participants and raised $33,000.
Since then, thousands of fundraising walkers have gathered each year to participate in the region’s largest annual HIV/AIDS public awareness and fundraising event. Nearly $16 million has been raised for HIV/AIDS public awareness, prevention and care services for people living with HIV disease.
AIDS Fund notes that every 9½ minutes, someone becomes infected with HIV in the U.S. During the walk, free rapid HIV tests will be provided on-site; they encourage everyone to find out his or her status in only 20 minutes.
"After 30 years of this epidemic, it is shocking that there are still misconceptions about the contracting of HIV and that those living with the disease are still facing discrimination," said Reichard. "This means too many people don’t get tested. Since one in five people don’t know they are HIV-positive, we want to educate our community about the urgency of getting tested."
To emphasize the long history of HIV/AIDS, AIDS Fund has created a large photographic and text timeline of over 30 years of the epidemic. The "1981--Until It’s Over..." AIDS Timeline will be on display at AIDS Walk Philly.
Also on display will be 25 panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt. This is a powerful tool for raising awareness about HIV/AID; each of the more than 44,000 colorful panels that make up the Quilt memorializes the life of a person lost to AIDS.
Participants can pick up registration information or register online at aidswalkphilly.org.