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30,000 expected for AIDS Walk on Sunday, organizers say

Volunteers with Life Group L.A. hold umbrellas during the 27th Annual AIDS Walk in 2011

About 30,000 people are expected to fill Los Angeles streets Sunday to participate in the 28th annual AIDS Walk with the aim of raising funds for continued education and prevention of spread of the disease, organizers of the event said. 

Participants will walk the streets of L.A. beginning and ending at West Hollywood Park, at San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue, said Brent Colby, director of strategic partnerships and communications for AIDS Walk Los Angeles, which representatives said has raised more than $72 million for HIV programs and services throughout Los Angeles County since 1985.

Funds from Sunday’s event will help support AIDS Project Los Angeles, with offers life-sustaining services, such as medical care, food and housing to low-income residents who have the virus. The organization also provides the county’s largest network of HIV prevention programming, testing, counseling and advocacy, according to literature about the group.

Colby said the level of participation in the annual event had held steady at around 30,000 for at least the last 10 years and many more youths have gotten involved through high school teams. Several VIPs, celebrity guests and elected officials, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, were expected to participate in the walk, event organizers said.

Colby said it was more important now than ever to continue to promote awareness and “get the word out” about HIV/AIDS, which in the face of other competing social causes had become "a lower, second-tier priority” for some people, organizations and governments, but was still a critical cause.

“It’s still very much a huge public health issue that we need to keep in the forefront of the public’s mind,” Colby said.

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-- Ann M. Simmons

Photo: Volunteers with Life Group L.A. hold umbrellas during the 27th Annual AIDS Walk in 2011. Credit: Christina House / Los Angeles Times

 
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