This week 35 years ago in history, actor Rock Hudson publicly announced that he had AIDS. He was one of the first mainstream celebrities to be diagnosed with the disease. Then, three days later on July 28, 1985, Walk Los Angeles held its first event, hoping to raise $100,000.
The news of Hudson’s diagnosis shook the HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ communities in Los Angeles but also surged a tide of 4,500 walkers to participate in the first AIDS Walk Los Angeles at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. The walk surpassed its goal, raising $673,000 and ignited a movement to eradicate the disease. Yet, today, the need to eradicate HIV/AIDS is still as prevalent as ever.
This year, AIDS Walk Los Angeles will be held on October 20 at Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles. Individuals and Teams can register at no cost and fundraise on a newly launched website (aidswalkla.org). AIDS Walk Los Angeles is the pioneer fundraising walk that raises vital funds and builds support and awareness of the continuing need to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“AIDS Walk Los Angeles is the premiere HIV/AIDS event to organize community, educate, bring awareness and work to end an epidemic,” said Craig Thompson, CEO, APLA Health. “We’ve made major strides in improving the health and quality of life for people living with HIV, but the disease has yet to be eradicated and our work continues. Our ask for this year’s walk is simple: Walk with us, talk with us, and share your experience.”
This year’s AIDS Walk Los Angeles is the first to be managed in house by APLA Health, which has been the beneficiary of the walk since its inception. The theme for the 2019 event is “AIDS Has Met Its March,” which calls upon participants to continue the fight in our efforts to make AIDS history. The walk is approximately four miles and starts and ends at the steps of L.A. City Hall and takes about two hours to complete. The morning kicks off with an aerobic warm-up, followed by opening ceremonies featuring celebrities, musical performances, and HIV/AIDS activists and leaders. A post-walk celebration congratulates walkers, volunteers and supporters.
Each year AIDS Walk Los Angeles opens registration during Pride Month – when LGBTQ+ communities and supporters stand together to celebrate and advocate for inclusiveness and civil rights. Since 1985, hundreds of thousands of walkers and supporters have raised over $88 million in the fight against HIV/AIDS. These funds are a vital lifeline that sustains APLA Health as well as other HIV/AIDS health and support organization beneficiaries.
“The HIV health services and support programs, HIV prevention programs, and advocacy we offer to the thousands of men, women, and families affected by the disease in Los Angeles County are still as relevant today as they were when we opened our doors to help our first five clients in 1983,” said Thompson. “In 2017, the CDC reported that African-American and Latinx gay or bisexual men accounted for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnosis and people living with HIV compared to other races. In 2018, the CDC reported an uptick in HIV infections in millennials. Because of these statistics, we continue to walk to educate, provide care, and support for all of our communities. Funds raised allow us to offer critical services that include primary medical care, HIV specialty care, dental and behavioral health care, as well as food, housing support and more.”
To register for AIDS Walk Los Angeles or for more information, please visit: www.aidswalkla.org