SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - It was a cold and foggy morning in Golden Gate Park Sunday morning, but the energy was hot. There were costumes, dogs, and dogs in costumes.
The 32nd annual Aids Walk San Francisco expected to draw 10,000 people to Robin Williams meadow and to hoof it more than six miles to raise awareness, and funds for HIV/AIDS research and programs.
One walker said everyone needs to realize that HIV infections are still happening in America. She's also walking today to remember a friend.
"I walk to honor my friend and colleague, Red Mangio, who was our team organizer for many, many years. And in August 2006, he died of AIDS,” said Jen Dowd, UCSF. “I’m out here to honor his memory and to keep his legacy of having a big UCSF contingent out on the field, raising lots of money to end this epidemic and educate."
One of the primary beneficiaries of the aids walk fundraiser is the nonprofit ACRIA. It's the world's leading research organization on HIV and aging.
"We're going to expand our research efforts so we can better understand the needs of our aging population with HIV,” said Kelsey Louie, executive director of ACRIA"
Today's survivors of the aids epidemic of the 1980s and 90s are mostly in their 60s.
"In terms of long-term survivors, they're experiencing a unique set of needs: isolation, mental health, and needs to get back into the work force," Louie said.
ACRIA says there are more than 40,000 new HIV infections in America. And those new infections have shifted away from gay men and to women. Corporations such as Chevron have been a part of AIDS research fundraisers since 1986. It says its educational programs to its workforce in America and overseas have been successful in preventing the disease's spread.
"In Angola, we started our PMDC program, which is prevention of mother to child transmission of infection, and the same in Nigeria," said Dr. Huma Abeasi. "We've now had no child born in the chevron workforce from 2011 in Nigera and 2012 Angolia, which is a huge success for us."
Since 1987, the aids walk has raised more than $90 million for HIV programs in the bay area. The goal this year is to raise two million dollars.