The 35th annual AIDS Walk in downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Park saw thousands of people taking up the cause, raising money and awareness for the ongoing epidemic.
There were many people on-hand for the event – from city officials to celebrities to activists – along with the rest of the community – each of them warming up for the four-mile trek and enjoying the opening ceremonies.
This year’s event was called the “AIDS Has Met Its Match.
In the last 34 years, the AIDS Walk Los Angeles has raised over $88 million toward the fight against HIV and AIDS. The money raised during the event goes to the APLA Health’s care, prevention and advocacy programs for the county’s more than 60,000 citizens with HIV/AIDS along with other local HIV/AIDS organizations.
The APLA Health organization is a non-profit working to attain health care equality and promote healthcare to those in the LGBTQ community as well as other underserved regions and people who live with HIV/AIDS.
APLA Health Director of Communications Alex Medina said, along with the wellness benefits, the nonprofit provides behavioral health services to all people in the community – not just those with HIV.
Ajana Orozco, a UCLA Black Latino AIDS Project member, said big changes have been happening since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She said 27 years ago, she was diagnosed with HIV – a time when it was seen as a death sentence. Orozco said she never believed she would be alive today, but she’s a current UCLA student trying to secure a spot in law school.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law legislation that would allow state pharmacists to provide HIV prevention pills to people without a prescription. The law is effective as of 2020.
Medina said the more people on PrEP, the more people with access to it, the better the chances of decreasing new infections in the county.