2/5K to K.O. AIDS

Though the recent focus on terrorist acts and the improvements in AIDS treatment have dimmed the spotlight on the disease, the facts remain horrifying and undeniable.
At the end of 2001, 40 million people were living with AIDS globally, and 25 million had died from the disease. Even more frightening is the prediction that 40 million more will be infected by 2010, only eight years down the road. How does a 100 percent preventable disease like AIDS become such an epidemic? The answer is ignorance, and knowledge is the cure. Here in Charlottesville, knowledge will flow at AIDSWalk 2002.
Kathy Baker, executive director of the AIDS/HIV Services Group (ASG), one of the main organizers of AIDSWalk 2002, says it’s vitally important to keep AIDS in the public eye— “AIDS fatigue,” she believes, will allow the disease to insidiously continue to spread.
Though AIDS is spreading most quickly in other parts of the world— especially in Africa— America is not immune. Although we have medications that work to combat the disease, such as AZT, one-third of infected people cannot take these drugs because of adverse side effects. Supporting the view of AIDS as an epidemic, nearly one million people in the United States have contracted HIV/AIDS and an additional half million have died of the disease.
Now in its sixth year, AIDSWalk is a fun way to raise awareness of the disease while raising money to find a cure and to support those living with HIV or AIDS. The bill offers a 2/5 K run or the Any K You Can run, which allows participants to walk whatever distance they can and then act as cheerleaders for other walkers. The donations garnered through AIDSWalk will support the work of ASG, which has been local since 1986, supports a staff of knowledgeable Case Managers, and operates a wide variety of AIDS related services, including support groups, a volunteer network, the Wiseman House (which houses up to six HIV/AIDS victims who need support), and a number of educational outreach programs.

AIDSWalk 2002 takes place on Saturday, March 23. Sign-in is at 9am; the walk begins at 10am in the Amtrak/Wild Wing parking lot. Free and open to the public, though donations are appreciated. To learn more about AIDSWalk, how you can contribute as a walker, a sponsor, or to form a team, and to learn more about the ASG, please call 979-7714.

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