Since 1987, AIDS Walk Austin has brought together thousands of people from the community to benefit 10 AIDS Service Organizations in Central Texas. Each year walkers, sponsors, and supporters join together to create awareness, fight stigma, and raise much-needed funds for HIV prevention and care services.
In 2018, our goal was to raise $225,000 for Central Texans affected by HIV/AIDS. This year, we're going bigger and setting a goal of raising $240,000 that goes directly to ultimately reaching zero new HIV infections by 2030.
We believe that providing life-affirming care can be the difference between a patient surviving, and a patient thriving. We also understand that Latinx and Black persons are disproportionately affected by HIV. We see rising numbers of new infections in young Latinx and Black men who have sex with men and that Black women and trans individuals continue to be underserved and underrepresented. To reach zero new HIV infections, we must engage with vulnerable communities and view them not as the problem but to invite them to be part of ending the epidemic.
Solutions aren't always small, sometimes we have to think BIGGER! That is why this year Big Freedia joins the Austin AIDS Walk as its Honorary Chair and first ever headlining performer. Big Freedia, known as the Queen of Bounce, is a New Orleans- based rapper and ambassador of Bounce music. Music brings people together, celebrating brings people together, and we think that Big Freedia will bring Austin together at the AIDS Walk. Like Big Freedia's music, Like Big Freedia's music, HIV transcends age, gender, sexual orientation, and race. Her performance is a step to bringing more engagement with culturally diverse communities of color. Big Freedia is a step to reaching younger populations (since 65% of new HIV infections were in people 18-35). Big Freedia is also a step to zero new infections in Austin and Central Texas. She is also a reminder of home for some of us and why the work we do matters. Ivan Baltimore, ASA Prevention Specialist in the Health Promotion Department, grew up with Big Freedia in New Orleans.
"Music, like HIV or AIDS, has no face, it has no race, and it has no color." - Ivan Baltimore
"It's been so long I can't remember us not knowing each other. It's going to be so fun for us to see each other in this new place in life," said Baltimore. It's been almost 20 years since Baltimore and Big Freedia have seen each other that it's come full circle for Ivan that they get to share this moment for a great cause. "Music, like HIV or AIDS, has no face, it has no race, and it has no color." In his role as a Prevention Specialist at ASA, Ivan has pioneered events, like weekly POSE on FX watch parties, focused on Austin's Black community to raise awareness for HIV and sexual health. This year, Ivan has registered and will be walking in the AIDS Walk. "All of us are affected by HIV whether we admit it or not. Bringing someone like Big Freedia in makes a lot of sense since music affects you whether you know it or not," added Baltimore. "I walk for everyone that can't, everyone that couldn't, or everyone that didn't. And I walk for those that won't because there are lot of people who don't think this is important, but it matters."
AIDS Walk has an impact in our community. At its core, AIDS Walk is a place for everyone to come together with one purpose. That purpose being to reach zero new HIV infections. Austin has always been an ambitious city and leader in the fight against HIV which is why last summer Austin joined 96 other cities globally in signing the Paris Declaration to become a Fast Track City and have zero new HIV infections by 2030. 90/90/90 is the strategy.
As a Fast Track City, the ten beneficiary organizations and community partners will build on this initiative and continue to provide the life-affirming care that persons affected by HIV/AIDS deserve in Central Texas. We can all be a part of reaching this goal by being a part AIDS Walk Austin 2019. You can be a part of Stepping to Zero by walking, volunteering, and donating to AIDS Walk this year! Go BIG and go WALK!
Register to walk or donate at AIDSWALKAUSTIN.ORG and come out on September 21st at Republic Square Park from 9am-1pm.
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