Thousands of walkers, advocates, celebrities and volunteers turned out for Sunday’s 35th annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles, raising funds for HIV care, support services, prevention and advocacy.
The approximately 4-mile walk started at 10 a.m. in Grand Park, after an opening ceremony featuring actors, television personalities and elected officials.
Post-walk festivities were set to begin around 11:30 a.m. at Grand Park, including a performance by The Red Hot Band, family activities, a house band, drag queen entertainers, stilt walkers and acrobat performers.
The theme for the walk is “AIDS Has Met Its March,” which calls upon participants to continue the fight in the efforts to make AIDS history.
“Right now, we have the very real possibility to bring down the number of new infections because of resources like PrEP and educational tools like U=U,” APLA Health CEO Craig E. Thompson told City News Service.
“AIDS Walk LA continues to be important because not only does it let it let people know that HIV still impacts communities in Los Angeles County, but it also helps raise vital funds to support programs that keep people living with HIV in care and increases outreach for our HIV prevention programs.”
PrEP are antiviral drugs to prevent HIV/AIDS. U=U signifies the concept “HIV Undetectable = Untransmittable,” in which people with the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS who have an undetectable amount of HIV in their blood thanks to taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.
Proceeds from the walk benefit APLA Health, a nonprofit, federally qualified health center serving more than 18,000 people annually, providing 20 services at 16 locations throughout Los Angeles County, including medical, dental, behavioral health and HIV specialty care; counseling and management for the use of PrEP; health education and HIV prevention; and sexually transmitted disease screening and treatment.
APLA Health also provides food, housing support, benefits, counseling, home health care and other services for people living with and affected by AIDS and HIV.
APLA Health also advocates for policy and legislation positively impacting the LGBT and HIV communities and conducts community-based research on issues affecting the communities it serves.
AIDS Walk Los Angeles was the world’s first fundraising walk to benefit organizations dealing with AIDS.
The inaugural walk in 1985 began at Paramount Pictures, then moved to West Hollywood because of security concerns following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was first held in downtown Los Angeles in 2016.
Since its inception, the walk has raised more than $88 million, according to APLA Health’s director of communications, Alex Medina.