"We need to get the infection rate to zero. We need to have honest conversations about HIV status... And we need to keep working to eliminate the shame and stigma that comes with an HIV/AIDS diagnosis.” -- AAC President and CEO Rebecca Haag.
Boston, MA (PRWEB) May 22, 2010
AIDS Action Committee, Inc. (AAC), New England’s largest AIDS service organization will hold the 25th AIDS Walk Boston , Boston’s annual charity walk benefiting AAC. To mark the 25-year milestone, AAC is honoring 25 individuals (listed below) whose contributions to the fight against AIDS over the last two-and-a-half decades have been invaluable.
Despite the progress of the last 25 years, much work remains. In March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released statistics showing that men who have sex with men are 44 times more likely to contract HIV than other men. To date, 30,537 Massachusetts residents have been diagnosed with HIV and there are approximately 600 new infections each year. It is estimated that 21 percent of those infected with HIV are unaware of their status. Gay and bi men (35%) and injection drug users (24%) still account for the largest proportions of HIV infections in the state.
“Since 1999, rates of HIV infection in the Commonwealth have declined by half,” Haag said. “That’s terrific news, but we need to get the infection rate to zero. We need to have honest conversations about HIV status. We need to arm people with the tools and language that will help them stay safe. And we need to keep working to eliminate the shame and stigma that comes with an HIV/AIDS diagnosis.”
AIDS Walk Boston draws 10,000-15,000 participants; WCVB-TV StormTeam 5 meteorologist David Brown will emcee the event, which also includes a Wellness Festival and the Larry Kessler 5K run.
Building upon innovations put in place for last year’s Walk, participants have multiple options for supporting and promoting the walk via social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Donors can also contribute $10 simply by texting WALK to 27722 from their cell phones.
Macy’s Foundation is the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s Walk, marking the fourth year that Macy’s has partnered with the AIDS Action Committee to highlight the continuing needs of those with HIV and AIDS. Other corporate sponsors include Bruegger’s Bagels, Whole Foods, EMD Serono, Bristol Myers Squibb, Partners HealthCare, Stop & Shop, the TJX Foundation, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Blue Man Group. Media sponsors include are WCVB-TV, Kiss 108, WFNX, Comcast, The Boston Phoenix, and El Planeta.
Profiles of the 25 people being honored at this year’s Walk can be found at http://www.aac.org/25Years. The list of those being honored follows:
- John Auerbach, M.B.A., Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Gary Bailey, M.S.W., Associate Professor of Social Work, Simmons College
- Calvin Cohen, M.D., M.Sc., Director of Research, Community Research Initiative New England
- Pat Daoust, M.S.N., R.N., and former AIDS Action Committee board member
- Belynda Dunn, R.N., founder of AIDS Action Committee’s Who Touched Me Ministry
- Jeff Epperly, former editor of Bay Windows and former education director for AIDS Action Committee
- Ralph Fuccillo, President, DentaQuest Foundation and former president of the AIDS Action Committee Board of Directors
- Andrew Fullem, M.S.P.H., Director of John Snow, Inc.’s and World Education’s Center for HIV and AIDS, and former AIDS Action Committee board member
- Richard Giglio, realtor with Keller Williams and former special events fundraiser, AIDS Action Committee
- Robert Greenwald, Managing Director, Legal Services Center, Harvard Law School
- Larry Killian, former finance director, AIDS Action Committee
- Michael Melendez, Ph.D., M.S.W., Professor of Social Work, Simmons College
- Mayor Thomas Menino
- Stephen Mindich, Publisher and Chairman, Phoenix/Media Communications Group
- David Mulligan, M.Ed, former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Sr. Jeannette Normandin, founder of Ruah
- Bernie Toale, cofounder of ARTcetera, and former AIDS Action Committee board member
- Liz Page, founder, Liz Page Associates and director of the first five AIDS Walks
- Phillip Robinson, Chair, Bayard Rustin Empowerment Scholarship, and former AIDS Action Committee board member
- Bryan Rafanelli, founder, Rafanelli Events and special events fundraiser, AIDS Action Committee
- Louise Rice, R.N., Director of Public Health Nursing for the city of Cambridge
- Valerie Stone, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Primary Care Residency Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, and AIDS Action Committee board member
- Margaret Sullivan, former board member AIDS Action Committee and founder of “Everybody’s Business” fundraiser
- Sunny Joe White, disc jockey, KISS 108 FM
- Chris Wittke, field supervisor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Behavioral Surveillance Survey, and longest serving employee of the AIDS Action Committee
AIDS Walk Boston Events
Saturday, June 5, 2010: Reception for 25 AAC honorees from 6 to 8 p.m. at Mandarin Oriental Hotel followed by a candlelight vigil at 8:30 p.m. in Copley Square, outside Trinity Church.
Sunday, June 6, 2010: AIDS Walk Boston & Larry Kessler 5k Run registration starts at 7:30. 5k Run begins at 9:00 a.m. and Walk begins at 10:00 a.m.
ABOUT AIDS ACTION COMMITTEE
AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Inc., (AAC), New England’s first and largest AIDS organization, is dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS by preventing new infections and optimizing the health of those already infected. AAC provides free confidential services to men and women already living with HIV/AIDS, as well as conducts extensive educational and prevention outreach to those at risk of infection. AAC runs the only statewide AIDS Hotline (1.800.235.2331), Hepatitis Hotline (1.888.443.4372) and Pharmacy Access Hotline (1.800.988.5209). All Hotlines offer support in Spanish and in English. Free and confidential rapid HIV testing and counseling is available at AAC’s downtown Boston location and at its MALE Center in Boston’s South End neighborhood. AAC also advocates for effective science-based prevention programs. More information is available at aac.org and at AAC’s blog at blog.aac.org.