The 34th Annual AIDS Walk Long Beach, a benefit for the LGBTQ Center Long Beach and other local providers returned on November 14 as an in person walk and race.
In it’s 34th year the AIDS Walk Long Beach 2021 fundraiser is to support a variety of free HIV/STI services offered by the LGBTQ Center Long Beach, Memorial Care Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach, CARE Center Program at Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center, and The AIDS Food Store.
The 5k event allowed participants to walk or run following COVID-19 guidelines for safety and prevention. The Center also encouraged contributors to participate on their own and with their families by walking in their neighborhood instead of following the official route and share photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #AIDSWalkLB.
According to The Center Long Beach the fight against HIV/STIs is needed today more than ever. Recently, the Long Beach zip codes 90802 downtown, 90813 Cambodia Town, and 90804 Eastside/Traffic Circle have been identified by the Los Angeles Commission on HIV as having the highest burden for all STIs in Long Beach. So far in 2021.
Disease Intervention Specialists in Long Beach are investigating 25% more syphilis cases than last year. Notable increases in the number of syphilis cases who report are identified as men who has sex with women of 455% and men who have sex with men and woman of 175%. There has been a 215% increase in the number of syphilis infections in women, between 2015-2019, a huge concern addressing Congenital Syphilis. Data provided by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, Communicable Disease Control and Prevention Division, HIV/STI Surveillance Program, 2021.
“The fight against HIV and STIs is far from over in Long Beach,” said Carlos Torres, executive director of the LGBTQ Center Long Beach. “AIDS Walk is a great way for the community to show they care for their neighbors and to highlight The Center’s and our partner’s safe spaces where people can come for free or affordable, holistic health and mental health care.”
This year, to ensure as much physical distance as possible, groups of participants were released from the starting line in waves of up to 25 people at a time. Valid proof of vaccination was required. Kick off began at Granada Beach near Rosie’s Dog Beach and headed west towards Downtown Long Beach, turning around at Junipero Beach. Supportive volunteers cheered on participants throughout the route. Registration began at 9:00 a.m. The popular group Zumba warm-up exercises were led prior to the start of the run and walk portions of the event. The run started at 9:30 a.m. while the walk steps off at 10:00 a.m. The resource fair was open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Participants received morning snacks, coffee, juice, and water at the start/finish of the event, with a water stop at the turn-around point. First aid was also available. Registered participants received a commemorative AIDS Walk Long Beach shirt. Those reaching their fundraising goal, received a tote bag, a branded face covering, and wristband. Registered runners were awarded a commemorative AIDS Walk Long Beach 2021 participation medal.
Molina Healthcare sponsored the event as well as partner Sponsors such as Avita, Quest Diagnostics and Laserfiche. The 5k Medal Sponsor is the Shoreline Frontrunners of Long Beach.
Since its founding in 1988 and the first walk on March 12, 1989, AIDS Walk Long Beach has raised millions of dollars to support those most vulnerable and in need whom Long Beach-based organizations serve. Participants raised money to fund critical HIV prevention and support services, including free condoms, HIV and STI testing, food pantry support, case management, PrEp and PEP counseling, medication support, primary medical care, and social and support groups in multiple languages.