By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Ten thousand people gathered for the 29th annual AIDS Walk Philly Sunday morning at the Art Museum.
The names of those who lost their lives to AIDS were read aloud at the bottom of the Steps of the Museum.
Next to that was a timeline of the AIDS epidemic, highlighting the struggles and stigma that remain despite better treatments and more information.
On display were portions of the massive national AIDS Memorial Quilt. Pat Lavelle, whose brother died nearly 20 years ago, organized this effort:
“It’s a powerful memorial. It’s also kind of a way of getting through grief.”
The event was put together by AIDS Fund Philly. Executive Director Robb Reichard says this is about raising money for education and prevention services, but it’s also about keeping HIV and AIDS in the spotlight:
“While yes, we have reduced the death rate tremendously, the rate of new infections continues to be alarming and we have a whole new generation, one in four new infections is among youth 13-24.”
The organization says one in six people living with AIDS do not know they have it.
For AIDS Fund outreach Coordinator Terrie Hawkins, living with HIV for 19 years, this was a day to feel strength:
“Sometimes you feel like you’re alone, and then when you come out and see all these people here, my heart just fills with amazement.”
A difficult time for her. In June, HIV and heart disease claimed the life of the father of her children, adding incentive to spread the word to get tested and the fight isn’t over.
And at the event, there were a few mobile testing stations where people could get checked.