Even rain can’t stop New Yorkers who want to remember loved ones. On Sunday, some 40,000 people turned up in Central Park for the 26th annual AIDS Walk New York to honor the memory of loved ones and to support people living with AIDS.
The 10 kilometer walk, which was advertised as the largest AIDS fundraising event in the world, helped to raise money for HIV programs and services in the tri-state area. Three dozen community organizations will be the recipients of the funds raised from the one day event.
In New York City alone, more than 107,000 people live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Many of the participants in the walk, including Lydiana Diaz and Ashlee LaBoy, came in memory of loved ones who died at the hand of the disease.
Others, like Robert Branda, are HIV positive and came to raise money for organizations that help them. As Branda said, “It was a very rough period of my life – I made some bad decisions.” He now takes meds twice a day. He said that he’s “grateful to GMHC. They saved my life. They do that for so many people.”
Rapid HIV Test Kits
As part of the AIDS Walk Day, many tried to influence the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the over-the-counter sale of rapid HIV test kits. These kits would allow people, who might be too embarrassed to visit an HIV clinic, to test themselves. Republican Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) explained this idea in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. As he wrote, “There is good reason to believe that some individuals who would otherwise test themselves for HIV avoid clinics and outreach centers because of the perceived stigma involved.”