The Charlottesville AIDS/HIV Service Group sponsored the Ninth Annual AIDS Walk Saturday, April 9. Step by step, hundreds of participants in this year's AIDS Walk took it upon themselves to promote awareness in the community about HIV and AIDS, all in an effort to combat fears and prejudices often associated with the disease.
"The big focus on the walk is to raise awareness," said Christopher Radick, the A.S.G Coordinator. "Currently there are 30,000 people in Virginia living with AIDS and about eight-thousand people don't even know they're infected, so our message is know your status and get tested."
"I read a sign on the walk that said every twelve days a person in Charlottesville finds out that they're HIV positive, and that just really opened my eyes to how prevalent the problem is here in Charlottesville," says Keelah Andrews.
Because the disease is so prevalent, members of the community believe it's important for them to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS through intervention and education.
"There's just a lot of energy here, a lot of enthusiasm and acknowledgement that this is a reality," says Kim Tingley, an AIDS Walk Participant. "That's why we've got to work to change the reality of AIDS."
The AIDS Service Group says more than 400 people showed up for the event and they exceeded their goal of $20,000, all of which will go towards AIDS education and prevention programs.