SAN FRANCISCO, July 15, 2012 – A massive crowd of thousands (estimated between 15,000 and 20,000) gathered today in Golden Gate Park for the 26th annual AIDS Walk San Francisco (AWSF). The landmark grassroots event benefits San Francisco AIDS Foundation and 46 other Bay Area AIDS organizations, which provide vital care for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as cutting-edge HIV prevention services and public policy efforts to end the epidemic.
“Today, a massive and diverse crowd of compassionate Bay Area residents, backed by thousands of individual donors, came together and raised $2,686,582 to lift up the lives of people living with HIV, and move us closer to an AIDS-free generation,” said Craig R. Miller, Founder and Producer of the event. “Our participants show such dedication year after year because they know that ending AIDS is about fighting more than the virus itself. It is also about overcoming poverty, racism, sexism, and homophobia. These social ills continue to fuel the epidemic. They are being confronted head-on by the powerful community that participates in and contributes to AIDS Walk San Francisco each year.”
“AIDS Walk is vital to our efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and make sure all people living with the disease have access to proper care,” said Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “This year, the foundation marks its 30th year of answering the call from our community and we are thankful to be the lead beneficiary of the event produced by MZA Events. What was true in the beginning remains true today—our commitment to the people we serve is unwavering and we will be here until our services are no longer needed and HIV/AIDS is part of our history.”
Currently, 1.2 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, more than at any other time in history. In San Francisco there are more than 15,500 people living with the disease. Alarmingly, rates of new HIV infections are still rising among gay and bisexual men, the only risk group for which this is the case.
“I commend Bay Area service providers and advocates for their enduring commitment to addressing the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis as well as the underlying social ills that contribute to the high rates of HIV infection,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA). “It is vital for our communities in the U.S. to come together with the global community in a shared mission to achieve an AIDS-free generation—and I am very hopeful that finally we will shine a spotlight on our domestic epidemic with the return of the International AIDS Conference next week in Washington."
“AIDS Walk San Francisco embodies the true spirit of our City with thousands of people from all walks of life coming together for a singular purpose: to make a real difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “For the past 26 years, this remarkable event has saved lives and improved health for countless people living with HIV/AIDS. San Francisco will continue to maintain investments in HIV/AIDS care, treatment and prevention, which reflect our values to care for our most vulnerable populations and prevent the spread of infection.”
Since 1987, AIDS Walk San Francisco has raised close to $80 million for life-changing HIV prevention, testing, and care programs and services, and has grown into the largest AIDS fundraising event in Northern California.
The AIDS Walk’s opening ceremony also featured Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Dan Ashley (ABC-7 News Anchor), Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch), Dot-Marie Jones (Glee), Adam Shankman (Director and Choreographer), Harry Shum Jr. (Glee), and Neil Giuliano. Hal Linden, joined by fellow cast members from the critically acclaimed musical Scottsboro Boys, sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to energize the walkers as they set out on to the 6.2-mile (10-kilometer) route.
Elected officials in attendance included California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, California State Senator Mark Leno, California State Assembly Majority Leader Michael Allen, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, and San Francisco City Treasurer José Cisneros.
The corporate community continues to show strong support of AIDS Walk San Francisco through team fundraising and major sponsorship. This year’s Presenting Sponsor is Chevron. Grand Sponsors include ABC-7 and Gap Inc. Principal Sponsors are Gilead Sciences, KBLX 102.9, San Francisco Marriott Marquis, SF Weekly, Target, Wells Fargo, and Williams-Sonoma. Major Sponsors are Bio-Rad, Genentech, The Examiner, Sephora, Union Bank, and Walgreens.
About San Francisco AIDS Foundation: No city experienced epidemic levels of HIV faster than San Francisco. At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, we work to end the epidemic where it first took hold, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, our mission is to radically reduce new HIV infections in San Francisco. Through education, advocacy and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease. We refuse to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable. For more information, visit sfaf.org.
About AIDS Walk San Francisco: Since 1987, AIDS Walk San Francisco has raised close to $80 million for lifesaving HIV prevention, testing, and care programs and services, and has grown into the largest AIDS fundraising event in Northern California. AIDS Walk San Francisco has become a Bay Area tradition, bringing together tens of thousands of participants and volunteers; hundreds of corporate, community, and friends and family teams; and hundreds of thousands of donors from the Bay Area and across the country. This year’s event benefits San Francisco AIDS Foundation and dozens of other Bay Area AIDS service organizations. For more information, visit www.aidswalk.net/sanfran.
About MZA Events: AIDS Walk San Francisco was founded in 1987 by Craig R. Miller and his organization of activists, MZA Events. Miller is the AIDS Walk originator and has produced hundreds of public service campaigns and fundraising events, generating more than $350 million for the major AIDS organizations throughout the country. For more information, please visit www.mzaevents.com.