AUSTIN, Texas — Several Seniors are takings strides, because many they loved and lost are on their mind.
“I’ve got relatives, I've got friends who I’ve lost and every year when I sign up to walk, all those people rush through my head and I remember them,” said Austin resident David Soileau.
He is the team lead for the Prime Timers. They are men who’ve lived through the AIDS epidemic. The painful experience inspires them to be a part of the AIDS Walk Austin fundraiser. Last year, they hit a record fundraising amount. This year, they were the top support again.
“We want to try to keep people today from having to experience the same sort of problem," Soileau said.
While HIV is not as prevalent, the risk is still there.
“In Texas, we have over 6,000 people living with HIV," said Paul Scott, CEO of AIDS Services of Austin. "We have about 300 new cases every year, which is still high for a community of our size.”
The 30th annual event at Republic Square hopes to raise awareness about the serious issue, in a way that isn’t somber. Community groups say there’s much to celebrate like those living healthy because of medical advancements and advocacy.
“We’re really trying to reach the African American community, the Latino community, the trans community just to provide the resource and reduce the burden of HIV on these specific communities,” said Joe Anderson of Austin Public Health.
Money raised helps 10 different non-profits who support those living with HIV and provides testing and research. Oftentimes, these groups lack the funding need.
- AIDS Services of Austin
- Austin Harm Reduction Coalition
- Integral Care
- Out Youth
- Project Transitions
- The David Powell Clinic
- Community Action, Inc. of Central Texas
- The Wright House Wellness Center
- Waterloo Counseling Center
“There's a lot of stigma still that goes along with HIV and we know how important it is for people to have support and community to be able to move through that,” said Priscilla Hale, director of allgo.
Organizers said anyone can still donate by the end of November: aidswalkaustin.org