Honoring and Reigniting the Community
AIDS Walk Delaware, presented jointly by AIDS Delaware and the Delaware HIV Consortium, takes place on Saturday, September 16, 2023. This year we celebrate and honor some of the people in our community who have been fighting the fight against HIV and AIDS since the first case was diagnosed in Delaware in 1981.
In 1982 the Gay & Lesbian Alliance of Delaware (GLAD) established a Health Issues Committee, which in 1984 would officially become the Delaware Lesbian and Gay Health Advocates (DLGHA), and eventually AIDS Delaware. These two organizations, a statewide AIDS hotline, and a much-needed buddy system were all started by James Welch, Ivo Dominguez, Jr., and their friends Joan Schwartz and John Wills. These are the Delaware pioneers who saw the need and responded. James and Ivo as well as 18 other community members who have contributed to the fight against HIV will be featured on this year’s commemorative AIDS Walk t-shirt.
This year’s AIDS Walk Delaware theme, REIGNITE THE COMMUNITY: Test, Treat, Prevent, Respond, ties directly to the four key strategies of the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative that aims to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. It’s also a call to action for all of us to get reengaged in the fight.
Our best chance of eliminating HIV is assuring people get tested, know their status, and—if they are HIV positive—to get them into care and on a structured, medical regimen. This helps them stay healthy and reduces the spread HIV. People living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load have virtually no risk of spreading HIV to another person. There is also a prevention medication, PrEP, which is 99 percent effective at reducing the risk of contracting HIV. We need to create community awareness about PrEP and let people know how to get it.
The Walk, which takes place in both Wilmington (Brandywine Park) and Rehoboth Beach (Grove Park) on September 16, is the state’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS fundraising and awareness event. Funds raised help provide free HIV testing, medical case management services, HIV-specific mental health counseling, HIV education and prevention programs, housing, and transportation services.
Walk funds also benefit other Delaware HIV service organizations: Ministry of Caring, Beautiful Gate Outreach Center, Latin American Community Center, William J. Holloway Community Program, and CAMP Rehoboth.
Join us to REIGNITE the Fight! Every Delawarean should get tested to know their HIV status. If you are HIV negative, we can give you strategies to keep you negative. And if you are HIV positive, we can help you access care to lead a long and healthy life. ▼
Walk Details: Walk check-in begins at 9:00 a.m. in Wilmington, at Brandywine Park, 1080 North Park Drive, and in Rehoboth Beach, at Grove Park, Columbia Avenue and Grove Street.
The Walk kicks off at 10:00. Walkers are encouraged to visit the Knowledge Neighborhood at their respective park before and after walking. Dogs are welcome at both locations. For more information, visit AIDSWalkDelaware.org, or contact John Beckley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302.652.6776, x221.
John Beckley is the Director of Development and Marketing at AIDS Delaware.