Whitman-Walker to Host the 35th Annual Walk & 5K to End HIV, formerly known as AIDS Walk Washington
Participants are encouraged to walk with friends and family on routes of their choice on October 23rd, or the Whitman-Walker provided routes in DC. Support HIV prevention and treatment by registering at walktoendHIV.org.
Whitman-Walker will host its 35th annual Walk & 5K to End HIV on Saturday, October 23rd with this year’s fundraising goal set for $450,000. Participants can sign up to run or walk a 5K route in Washington, DC and pass by local Whitman-Walker locations in northwest and southeast DC, or they can choose to walk or run a 5K route in their city! The Walk & 5K, formerly AIDS Walk Washington, is Whitman-Walker’s largest fundraiser of the year and supports the organization’s work and mission of keeping 20,000+ unique patients healthy and thriving. Supporters can register, walk, run and donate to this year’s Walk through December 31, 2021 at www.walktoendHIV.org.
Whitman-Walker held its first fundraising walk on June 28, 1987 – during a time where federal funds were not allocated for HIV research and prevention efforts. With people succumbing to AIDS-related complications, Whitman-Walker began conducting clinical research for HIV treatments that same year in 1987. Of note, this year’s 35th annual Walk comes during the 40th anniversary of the first CDC report identifying what would later be known as HIV/AIDS. The event also serves as a time for remembering loved ones lost to HIV, and to uplift their names and memories.
“The 40th anniversary of HIV and the 35th anniversary of this event allow us to reflect on the barriers to care folks faced during the AIDS epidemic and continue to face during COVID,” said Naseema Shafi, CEO of Whitman-Walker Health. “The current pandemic illustrates that we still have work to do in creating safer, affirming spaces for everyone in community. Our staff works to remove those barriers to care for patients and clients every day. We appreciate everyone who will walk and run with us because their support keeps us going and funds raised allow us to be open to anyone seeking an affirming health care home.”
Event participants are encouraged to post photos from their 5K walk or run whether they use the Whitman-Walker-provided routes in DC, or their own individual ones in their cities with #WalktoEndHIV.
“The Walk stirs up much emotion in me every year and this year even more so. The Walk reaffirms that light can come from darkness and hope can emerge from despair. It reminds me of the awesome power of community in support of a brighter future for those affected by HIV,” said Don Blanchon, CEO at Whitman-Walker Health System. “Personally, this year’s Walk will be bittersweet as it is my last as a Whitman-Walker employee. And so for one last time, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of Whitman-Walker.”
After the first reports of HIV/AIDS 40 years ago – people and communities are still very much affected by HIV, so we keep walking, running and fundraising – and encourage the community to do the same. The most recent HIV report in DC had less than 300 new cases of HIV in 2019 – the first time it has been this low since 1984. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is too soon to compare data to get an accurate picture of how COVID-19 has impacted HIV prevention efforts, but we know that COVID-19 prevented people from getting tested for HIV/STIs, which means it kept more people from be diagnosed. Events like the Walk & 5K to End HIV help remind communities of the importance of getting tested, knowing one’s status, and seeking HIV prevention tools or HIV/STI treatment.
Press Contact: Jewel Addy, Director of Communications
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Whitman-Walker operates a community-centered enterprise that provides primary medical care, behavioral health care, dental care, and a range of health-related legal and support services, with specialties in LGBTQ+ and HIV care, to more than 20,000 individuals and families annually in the greater Washington, DC metropolitan region. The Whitman-Walker Foundation believes all people deserve accessible, affordable, high-quality healthcare in a safe environment and free of bias, judgment, and discrimination. The Foundation raises community-based philanthropic support to ensure the sustainability of our services, and to advance our vision of social justice and equality through health. Learn more at whitmanwalkerimpact.org.