Desert Aids Walk Marks 40 Years of Fighting HIV/AIDS

Kamari Esquerra

HIV and AIDS is the cause of nearly one million deaths each year. For a disease that claims the lives of so many loved ones, the community came together on Saturday, not just to remember the loss, but to celebrate how far we’ve come in the fight and the strides we will continue to make in the future.  

“We’re walking to raise money for the 2021 AIDS walk… and to help our 10,000 patients that we see at DAP Health.”” said Revival Store Coordinator Chris Fischer and Clinical Documentation Specialist Kimmie Miller.

Thousands on foot, and paws, to walk for HIV and AIDS at the Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs. For more than three decades, the walk has brought the community together to raise funds to support the work of DAP Health, the desert’s leading nonprofit resource for those living with, affected by, or at-risk for HIV or AIDS, and the 20-21 walk is especially important. 

“This year marks the 40th year since HIV was first recognized in the United States,” said David Brinkman, CEO of DAP Health. “40 years of fighting HIV Aids.”

“There still is no cure for AIDS,” said Fischer. “We are here to raise awareness and have a really good time as well.”

More than 2,000 residents, young and old, walked, sung, stretched, and danced to support the cause and remember people lost to HIV and AIDS.

“This cause is very dear to my heart., said Marie de Rosa, a Rancho Mirage resident. “My son who is 48, had a sponsor who died very young at the age now my son is. I love that (the walk) represents we’re all one and that nothing, not something like this can stop us. We’re gonna overcome this and we’ve made so many strides.” 

On their shirts, they wear a significant symbol recognizing how far we’ve come in the fight.

“U equals U. undetectable equals untransmittable” said Brinkman. “When people have access to HIV medication, they become untransmittable. It is the beginning of the end of HIV.”

“If you have multiple tests that are undetected of HIV, that you cannot transmit HIV to another human being which is fabulous because there are so many people and the treatments have advanced over the years that people are not afraid to be intimate with their partners if they know they’re not transferring the disease to them,” said Linda Evans, Chief Strategy Officer for Desert Care Network .

This year, the Desert AIDS walk raised more than$380,000, setting a record for the event, but organizers say the fight isn’t over until people can live long and healthy lives without HIV and AIDS.

“Raise awareness, raise money, raise hope,” said Fischer.

“We haven’t won yet. It’s not over,” said Miller. 

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