Why We Still Walk
AIDS Walk Las Vegas 2008 is April 20th. This year will be the 18th Annual AIDS Walk. Eighteen years of recognizing a disease that has grown to be a worldwide pandemic. Individual Walkers and Walk Team numbers have grown significantly, sponsorships by local businesses and organizations continue to increase, and public awareness rises with every walk.
And we still walk. Contracting HIV at one time was considered a death sentence. But through research, new treatments are developed that not only save thousands of lives, but ensure their greatly improved quality. With nutritional supplementation, lifestyle changes, consistent monitoring and proper healthcare, HIV/AIDS is now considered a ?chronic disease? which represents incredible strides in disease management. Unfortunately, the infection rate is still rising. Each day, someone becomes infected every 15 seconds. In the next 10 years, 45 million adults and children will die of AIDS. In the next 20, 75 million will die. In Clark County, an estimated 8000 cases of HIV/AIDS have been reported. We walk because our job is far from over. Until humanity recognizes worldwide that we have to educate both children and adults about high risk behavior, how to protect ourselves, and how to take personal responsibility for our well being, we must continue to raise awareness.
Yes, we still walk. We do so because our lives and the lives of people we love have been forever touched by HIV/AIDS. We still walk because HIV/AIDS is non-discriminatory. It is blind to age, race, religion, gender, heritage, level of intelligence, financial status, or your living condition. It is an equal opportunity infection that knows no boundaries.
We must walk to protect our youth, the world?s most precious commodity. At least half of all new HIV infections in the United States are among people under 25, according to the CDC. And the majority of those infections are transmitted through sexual behavior. Education and outreach are imperative to effect a dramatic reduction in this statistic. Every effort has to be made to safeguard our children and young adults through commitment, determination, and compassion. We walk in defense of cherished generations.
We proudly walk because it?s our opportunity to stand up and be counted. Humanity is threatened by the HIV pandemic. All of us, at some point in time, will likely have our lives forever changed by this disease. Las Vegas and Southern Nevada is at greater risk of the spread of HIV simply based upon the tremendous growth in population. As the numbers of new residents rises, so does the per capita rate of HIV infection potential. Nevada has more HIV/AIDS cases per capita than any other western state, including California.
We walk with dignity in memory of those whom we have lost over the years, those remarkable individuals who have forever impacted our lives, minds, and hearts.
Yes, we walk with purpose, determination and compassion. We walk in a show of solidarity, and of support for our families, friends, colleagues and individuals we have never met, who need our understanding and kindness, as much as our vital services. Through the financial support of the AIDS Walk, we are able to provide life enhancing and health supportive programs for our community.
We will walk until that point in time, when AFAN is no longer effective; our services no longer needed and our purpose no longer essential to the solution.