AIDS Foundation Houston is ready to rock the 2018 AIDS Walk. The organization’s signature event, scheduled on Sunday, March 4 at noon at Sam Houston Park, will feature a concert afterward with legendary Houston artists Bun B, Paul Wall, Las Skarnales and DJ Gracie Chavez. KG Smooth from 97.9 The Box and Majic 102.1 along with and Derrick Shore from KPRC will emcee.
Kelly Young, CEO of AIDS Foundation Houston, took some time to explain the reasoning behind the newest addition to this year’s walk.
“We wanted to do the honorary and memorial part where we talk about people we’ve lost and how HIV/AIDS hasn’t ended, but we wanted something for people who are living a positive life and to celebrate them too,” she said. “So we looked for ways to add liveliness to the walk, and we decided to add a concert.”
Los Skarnales is one of the local groups performing at the free concert after the 2018 AIDS Walk.
Photo courtesy of Los Skarnales
She further detailed the importance of the monies raised through this walk to the Houston area.
“The AIDS Walk donations help to fund supportive services, housing, food pantries, the prevention efforts…any of the things our government funding won’t cover,” she says. “We don’t have any local funding – it’s all federal or state. So this is our chance to provide local funding for these services moving forward.”
Despite the breakthroughs in medicine and social awareness, statistics surrounding HIV/AIDS still remain at an uncomfortable level, which underscores the need for accessible testing and organizations like AIDS Foundation Houston.
“In the nation, Houston is ranked tenth for newest infection rates. We still have quite a few individuals who are dying from AIDS, which should not be happening in this day and age. My goal is to have Houston be the first city to end HIV/AIDS, and the AIDS Walk is part of how we do that.”
Just like the walk itself, ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic all starts with a few steps. For Young, they include increasing education, providing testing and supporting social services. Eradicating stigma is also a big part of her vision for stopping HIV infection rates.
“There are still biases, homophobia, racism and all the ‘-ism’s,’ but they build a wall between getting people healthy. That comes from not getting people to fight a communicable disease,” Young said. “We can’t get in a shaming, blaming game about something that can change the effect of HIV in our community.”
Signing up to participate is free, and Young encourages people to find their own way to take part in the fundraiser.
“This is an easy thing to do in the community. There’s no minimum. You can donate $5 or get a team together,” Young added. “People do a happy hour the night before and raise their money that way. It’s about you deciding how you want to raise your money. It’s a reflection of people’s passion and care.”
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