AIDS Walk Philly offers education, prevention and a lifeline

AIDS Walk Philly
Photo credit Patrick Hagerty
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There's still time to sign up for next Sunday's 33rd annual AIDS Walk in Philadelphia, which raises funds and awareness for people living with HIV and AIDS. According to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, nearly 30,000 people live with HIV in greater Philadelphia. Executive Director Robb Reichard said the funds raised through AIDS Walk Philly, via donations, sponsorships and participation, helps keep them in care.

"We do that by providing emergency financial assistance when someone's health could be threatened because of financial crises," he explained.

The grants, which range from $50 to $500, may seem like a drop in the bucket, but they can be a lifeline for the vulnerable.

"They need a wheelchair, a wheelchair repaired," Reichard noted. "They may be facing eviction, and it's very hard to maintain your health if you're on the streets."

Although medical advances have helped extend the lives of many people with HIV and AIDS, it's important to remember there's no cure. In the United States, someone is infected with HIV every 9 ½ minutes.

One of the most sobering statistics: More than a quarter of the people with newly diagnosed HIV infections are between the ages of 13 and 24.   

Prevention is paramount, Reichard said.

"We have to keep up educating them," he continued. "Knowledge is power, and we just need to make sure that  everybody has the newest, most accurate information about HIV."

He said the aim is to get to zero.

"Zero new infections, zero deaths, and zero stigma."

The 5K walk kicks off at the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps at 8 a.m. on Oct. 20.