It’s Not Too Late to Give: AIDS Walk 2013

Photo by Peter Rosenstein
Bob Williams, Mayor Vincent Gray, Mitchell Gold
Bob Williams, Mayor Vincent Gray, Mitchell Gold

Start of the walk (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Start of the walk

AIDS Walk 2013 was a big success! More than 10,000 of people came together to raise more than $675,000 so far for HIV care at Whitman-Walker Health and 13 other organizations! Missed the Walk? You can still donate until Dec. 31! Walk the Walk until the end of the year!

This year’s AIDS Walk began at Freedom Plaza with a 5k run which kicked of just before the walk. Even thought it was a huge success there is never enough money to cover all the needs of those in the District with HIV/AIDS. The numbers are still staggering though we are making progress. The grand marshals for this year’s walk were Bob Williams and Mitchell Gold who have been so generous to many causes in the District and the program was mc’d by channel 4 co-anchor Eun Yang. Kicking off the walk as they have for so many years were Mayor Vincent Gray and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Standing with them behind the banner was the Executive Director of Whitman Walker Health Don Blanchon. It is Don who turned Whitman Walker around after years of running in the red to become a healthy and thriving organization that will be around for years to come to serve those in our community with HIV/AIDS and other healthcare needs.

Tom Sherwood and his ladies (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Tom Sherwood and his ladies

The Mayor’s Commission on HIV/AIDS has been working diligently to fight the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the District since Mayor Vincent Gray established it by executive order in March of 2011. But still 2.7 percent of the population of the District is living with HIV. This number is overwhelming when one considers that the World Health Organization (WHO) defines a general epidemic as 1 percent of the population.

Eleanor Holmes Norton (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Eleanor Holmes Norton

Last March the Mayor announced some accomplishments of the Commission in its first two years. They include having finalized the District’s HIV/AIDS Implementation Plan which consolidated outreach strategies into a single coordinated framework. The plan outlines the District’s vision for preventing new HIV infections, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes, reducing health disparities and achieving a more coordinated response in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The plan includes utilizing patient-centered medical homes to improve linkage to care, retention in treatment and viral suppression rates among people living with HIV. The effort aims to keep people in consistent, effective treatment through added social services support to their primary medical treatment plan. The commission has also developed productive partnerships with unions in a campaign to encourage the city’s workforce to get tested for HIV. Collaborations with local universities have been enhanced, assisting the District with HIV surveillance and program evaluation.

AIDSWalk walkers (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) AIDSWalk walkers

But the need for organizations like Whitman Walker Health continues to grow as not only new cases of HIV present but as people with HIV/AIDS are living longer and need continued care.

AIDS Walk is the single biggest fundraiser of the year for Whitman Walker and for many of the other organizations in the District that participate.  Please consider a donation to AIDS Walk today.