Boston Mayor Walsh announced Boston’s participation in global campaign to end HIV; legislator, advocates honored
BOSTON―The 32nd annual AIDS Walk & Run Boston on Sunday, June 4, 2017 has raised $750,000 in donations and in-kind contributions for AIDS Action Committee. The event, emceed by WCVB-TV newscaster Randy Price, drew thousands of participants to the DCR Memorial Hatch Shell on the Esplanade for a 4.85-mile walk and competitive 5K Run. Addressing participants at the opening ceremony, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Boston’s commitment to join the Fast-Track Cities Initiative, a global campaign to end HIV transmission.
Additionally, AIDS Action Committee honored state Sen. Jason Lewis; the Healthy Youth Coalition under the leadership of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts; and Dr. Bruce Walker, director of The Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard; for their efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“After days of rain and clouds, it was nice to have the sun join us for Sunday’s AIDS Walk and Run,” said AIDS Action Committee Executive Director Carl Sciortino. “We’re grateful for the thousands of walkers and runners who raised the critical dollars and awareness we need to get to zero new HIV infections in Massachusetts.
“We’re equally grateful to Mayor Walsh for committing Boston to the Fast-Track Cities Initiative,” Sciortino added. “At a time when our president is proposing deep cuts to long established public health and social justice programs, it is deeply encouraging to see Mayor Walsh step forward to lead this effort.”
Fast-Track Cities commit to taking the necessary public health, social justice, and access to healthcare initiatives to ensure that by 2020, 90 percent of city residents living with HIV are aware of their status; 90 percent of those diagnosed with HIV are treated with antiretroviral therapy; and 90 percent of those receiving antiretroviral treatment are virally suppressed. In joining the initiative, Boston becomes the 12th U.S. city to join the global campaign to end the transmission of HIV. The others are Atlanta; Baltimore; Denver; Miami; New Orleans; New York City; Oakland, Calif.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Providence, RI; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C.
Sen. Lewis was honored with the 2017 HIV/AIDS Legislative Leadership Award for filing an amendment to remove the cap limiting the number of needle exchange programs allowed in the state to six. Since the legislation passed last year, needle exchange programs—which help prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C—around the state have quadrupled.
The Healthy Youth Coalition, under the leadership of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, received the Bette Byrnes Award, which recognizes an individual or team that has promoted HIV education and awareness among youth. The coalition was recognized for working to pass legislation to ensure that Massachusetts schools that elect to teach sexual health education use a curriculum that’s medically accurate, age-appropriate, and teaches students about the benefits of abstinence and delaying sex; building healthy relationships; consent; gender identity and sexual orientation; effective contraceptive use; and the prevention of pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections.
Dr. Walker received the Heroes in Action Award, which honors those who have made significant and lasting contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts, for his groundbreaking research into a cure for AIDS, his HIV work in South Africa, and his tireless support of AIDS Action Committee.
Corporate sponsors of this year’s AIDS Walk & Run Boston included The TJX Companies, Inc., Macy’s, Whole Foods Market, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Walgreens, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Facebook, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Merck, Converse, Eastern Bank, Gilead Sciences, Abt Associates, EMD Serono, Partners Healthcare, Patriot Care, CamCare, Neighborhood Health Plan, ViiV Healthcare, Planned Parenthood, Pfizer, Inc., and JetBlue. In addition to WCVB-TV, this year’s media sponsors are Kiss 108, JAM’N 94.5, 101.7 The Bull, and Yelp.
Facts About HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts
–Between 2000 and 2014, the number of people living HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts increased 56%, placing substantial demands on existing prevention and treatment programs.
–Blacks make up only 6% of the state’s population, but they comprise 30% of those living with HIV/AIDS.
–Hispanics make up only 10% of the state’s population, but they comprise 25% of those living with HIV/AIDS.
–The proportion of new HIV infection diagnoses among gay and bisexual men increased from 38% in 2005 to 46% in 2014.
About AIDS Walk & Run Boston
The AIDS Walk was first held in 1986 and is one of the first fundraising walks to be introduced in Boston, as well as the country. The 5K Run was added to open up fundraising to runners. Historically AAC’s largest fundraising event, it has raised over $40 million for programs and services to support those living with and at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS.
AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is the state’s leading provider of prevention and wellness services for people living with and at risk of HIV/AIDS. AIDS Action works to stop the epidemic by eliminating new infections; maximizing healthier outcomes of those infected and at risk; and tackling the root causes of HIV/AIDS. Founded in 1983, AIDS Action is New England’s oldest and largest AIDS service organization, advocating for the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS by educating the public and health professionals about HIV prevention and care; and promoting fair and effective HIV/AIDS policy at the city, state, and federal levels. In 2013, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts entered into a strategic partnership with Fenway Health, allowing both organizations to improve delivery of care and services across the state and beyond.
[From A News Release]