Organizers hope AIDS walk raises awareness, removes stigma
Published Sunday, September 23, 2012 3:07PM MDT Last Updated Sunday, September 23, 2012 5:13PM MDT
Organizers for this year’s Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life are hoping the event helps remove the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDs in Edmonton.
While science has come a long way in helping those living with HIV, Laura Keegan with HIV Edmonton says there is still stigma and discrimination surrounding the disease.
“Our vision of HIV Edmonton and the AIDS movement is to get to zero. Zero new transmissions, zero stigma and discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths and this walk gets so much closer to that goal,” Keegan said.
“Science has come a long way, unfortunately stigma hasn’t moved at the same speed.”
Hundreds of Edmontonians took part in the 21st annual walk to raise money and awareness for HIV Edmonton – the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year.
The 5 kilometre event begins and ends at Churchill Square - where a number of family-friendly activities were also taking place.
"The walk culminates in this great event and we want it to be more than just a walk but to have people come and enjoy the square and make the Aids Walk a family affair," Keegan said.
While the monetary goal for the fundraiser is important, organizers say awareness is just as critical.
“Walks like this are so important because HIV and AIDS globally and locally have sort of fallen off the radar and I think people think it’s not happening anymore,” Keegan said.
“We want people to know that infections are still happening but people are living, living positive, living longer, but they’re still living with HIV. There is no cure.”
Keegan says transmission rates in Edmonton have stayed about the same but HIV Edmonton hopes to see more people getting tested.
Organizers hoped to raise $93,000 from Sunday’s walk.