October 22, 2012
Between 12,000 and 15,000 people participated in the 26th annual AIDS Walk Philly on October 21, according to AIDS Fund, the event organizer. Participants marched to raise money and call attention to a disease that they fear is falling away from the public's consciousness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, one in five persons infected with HIV does not realize it, and Philadelphia has an infection rate five times higher than the national average.
The walk began near the base of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where college students, church groups, parents with children in strollers, and sorority sisters marched 12 kilometers. Others participated in a 5-K run or viewed the exhibits. A timeline of HIV was constructed near the Art Museum steps depicting prominent moments in the epidemic, including the reporting of the first cases in 1981 and the 1993 Academy award for the movie "Philadelphia." People could view an AIDS quilt display depicting lives cut short by the disease.
Before the walk began, participants took turns reciting the names of local AIDS victims over a public address system. AIDS Fund officials said the event raised $375,000, matching the 2011 total, to support a variety of local organizations that provide counseling, education, hospice care, meals, and other services.