Around 200 people gathered to support local services available for HIV and AIDS patients as $18,000 was raised at the AIDS Walk Long Beach on Sunday hosted at the Alfredo’s Beach Club.
For the first time, the AIDS walk also featured a 5k run that took place before the annual walk.
The money raised from the walk will go towards the CARE Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center, the AIDS Food Store, and the Long Beach LGBTQ Center.
“We are testing 20 – 40% of our clients positive for an STI each month, and your support is also going to ensure we are able to continue offering our free support groups for folks that are testing positive,” the Executive Director of the LGBTQ Center Porter Gilberg said.
Gilberg explained that the money raised will specifically go towards supporting treatment for STI infections since those that test positive for an STI are more likely to test positive for HIV.
“We are really at a critical time in the HIV epidemic, we are fortunate to have treatment that enables most people living with HIV to live a long healthy life, but if we’re going to end HIV in Long Beach we have to work together as a community now more than ever,” said the Executive Director Paul Lovely of the CARE Center at Dignity Health St. Mary’s Medical Center.
CARE is the largest provider of HIV related services in the south bay providing people with the services they need regardless of whether the patient can pay.
Routine HIV testing, support services, mental health, dental and medical care, and PrEP and PeP are made available by the CARE Center.
Mohammed Yousef, who has worked for Loreal for the past 21 years, shared that the company has always emphasized the importance of giving back to the community to their employees.
“I’ve only been in California for the past four months, but I circled this event on my calendar because this is something that a lot of people are dealing with and the support we give can help,” said Yousef.
To warm up for the walk, the group of participants and volunteers gathered towards the front of the stage to participate some light Zumba.
“We need to be able to look around in our local Long Beach community and tell these people that are living with HIV that there are services available, that we do support them, and moving forward we can focus on prevention methods,” said Deborah Charny who participated in the walk.
Registration and donations can be made through December at the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach.