Teams and individuals walk for strength, for health, and for life
Submitted by Christine Lyon, Communications Specialist, PHCRI
On Sunday, September 23, hundreds of people will lace up their walking shoes and make their way along the edge of Vancouver’s West End to empower people living with HIV and memorialize those lost too soon.
Organized by the Positive Living Society of BC and sponsored by the Hospital Employees’ Union, the 2018 Vancouver AIDS Walk follows a 2.5-kilometre route along Beach Avenue to English Bay and back along the seawall, past the AIDS Memorial at Sunset Beach.
Among the participants in this year’s annual event are teams from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network. The BC-CfE team, captained by Communications Coordinator Caroline Dobuzinskis, hopes to raise $2,000 (Click here to donate to their team). Meanwhile, the CTN and Friends team, captained by Communications and Knowledge Translation Manager Kevin Pendergraft, is already close to meeting its $500 fundraising goal (Click here to donate to their team).
All proceeds from the AIDS Walk will go directly to low income people living with HIV in BC through the Community Health Fund. The CHF is accessed by HIV positive low income people to help cover health-related expenses associated with living with HIV.
The BC-CfE recently published a Q&A with Jason Hjalmarson, Director of Development with Positive Living BC, who explained why this annual event still matters today, more than 30 years after the first AIDS Walk in Canada was held in Vancouver in 1986.
"While life with HIV today looks a lot different than it did 33 years ago, sadly, much remains the same. There is still too much injustice in an HIV diagnosis, and people living with the virus face too much unfair shame and stigma (especially in things like online dating). But most importantly for the AIDS Walk, life with HIV is still too expensive. Raising funds to help support low-income folks living with HIV was what started the AIDS Walk all those years ago, and today it remains the driving force behind the event," Hjalmarson said in the Q&A.
There are an estimated 15,000 people living with HIV in BC. In 2015, BC saw approximately 12 new cases of HIV diagnosed each month. Half of those cases were men who have sex with men, and half of them were located in the Lower Mainland.
For more information about this year’s event, or to make a donation, visit the Vancouver AIDS Walk website.
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