Hundreds of walkers, runners, and volunteers will take steps against HIV and AIDS in Baltimore at Chase Brexton Health Care’s fourth annual AIDS Walk & Run Baltimore, presented by Quest Diagnostics, on Sunday, May 6th at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
All proceeds from the AIDS Walk & Run Baltimore will support Chase Brexton’s HIV and AIDS programs, including assistance with medications, case management services, and medical care. A comprehensive health fair will once again be present at the end of the course offering health information, testing, and refreshments.
Participants can register to walk or run, or start a team and raise funds with their friends, at BaltimoreAIDSWalk.org. On-site registration is also available at the zoo’s main entrance beginning at 7 am, and the event program begins at 7:45 am. Top fundraising teams will earn a variety of exciting prizes for their efforts.
“HIV and AIDS remain a major problem in Baltimore and a leading cause of death here,” said Sharon Cooper-Kerr, special events manager for Chase Brexton. “We urge people in the community to come out and walk or run – and support this critically important effort to raise funds to expand testing and treatment.”
The fourth annual event features many returning participants and teams. Last year, the event succeeded in raising nearly $100,000 to support Chase Brexton Health Care’s HIV / AIDS prevention, outreach, and testing services. More than 600 attendees came to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore to walk, run, and volunteer.
Over the years, funds raised by the AIDS Walk & Run Baltimore have allowed Chase Brexton to purchase to mobile HIV testing vans, to drive outreach and testing efforts into the communities that need them most.
“For me, this is my Pride event,” said Aaron Lorance, whose organization Dance 4A Cure recently hosted the weekend-long event Incognito, with proceeds supporting the AIDS Walk & Run. “There is an illusion that there is a cure. There is no cure, there is only successful treatment and prevention. It’s important to be aware of other STDs and test for those as well. Making testing and treatment accessible and affordable helps decrease the numbers of new infections.”
Maryland has the fifth highest rate of HIV infection in the US, according to the state Department of Health, and more than 30,000 Marylanders are currently living with the disease. HIV / AIDS has also seen a resurgence among Baltimore youth; citywide, the percent of new infections occurring in 13-to-29 year olds grew from 14% in 2000 to 39% in 2015, the department reported.
“I have seen patients who were hopeless and depressed for a variety of reasons: not understanding what a certain diagnosis means, dealing with stigma and feeling depressed and being in denial or not seeking medical care due to financial constraints,” said Dr. Sebastian Ruhs, director of Chase Brexton Health Care’s Infectious Diseases Center of Excellence. “Being able to help those patients and see them come back at a future visit in great health and with a smile creates the greatest memories.”
For more than three decades, Chase Brexton has maintained a leading role in battling HIV / AIDS. Now a multi-faceted health center, Chase Brexton continues to provide comprehensive HIV-targeted case management services. These services include physical exams, ongoing follow-up visits with patients, diagnostic tests, treatment for patients co-infected with hepatitis B or C, nutritional assessments and consultations, and intensive patient health education and support for HIV medications.
The event is made possible through the support of: Quest Diagnostics, Gilead, CareFirst, Lifebridge Health, Allied Universal, Priority Partners, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, University of Maryland Institute for Human Virology, Wegmans, WBFF Fox 45, Yelp, and the Maryland Zoo.
“I participate in this event every year because I know that preventative measures and stopping the stigma associated with HIV are the keys to stopping the spread of this disease,” said Shawn Carrick, a leading fundraiser. “In my mind, each step I take during the AIDS Walk & Run in Baltimore is reflective of one more person helped.”