Stepping Up, Stepping Out
Against the OTHER Pandemic
The world has been dealing with COVID-19 and its many variants for the past two and a half years. In their sound bites, the popular press now simply refers to it as “the Pandemic.” What many people forget is that COVID-19 is not the first health pandemic in our lifetime. There is also HIV/AIDS.
Fortunately, we have made great strides in treating HIV, as well as in preventing new infections. However, there are still steps that must be taken. Some of those steps will be taken at this year’s AIDS Walk Delaware, planned for Saturday morning, September 17, 2022, in both Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach.
Newly diagnosed HIV infections in Delaware are at historic lows. Delaware has achieved great success in lowering the number of new infections caused by injecting drugs. However, Delaware is not seeing a significant decline in the number of new infections among men who have sex with men (MSM). Statewide, MSMs account for 40 percent of the new HIV infections reported so far this year. In Sussex County, that figure is closer to 60 percent. Clearly, we need to improve the HIV prevention messages, and we need to raise money for HIV prevention and treatment services in our community.
That’s where AIDS Walk Delaware comes in. The tagline for this year’s event is “Step Up. Step Out.” We walk to remove stigma, eliminate HIV, and improve lives. Of course, we also walk to raise money. That’s where YOU can step up as a Team Captain. The more teams in the AIDS Walk, the more people we have walking, and the more money that is raised. It’s that simple, and it all starts with five simple steps.
Step 1: Say “yes” to yourself. Not surprisingly, self-affirmation is the foundation of being a good leader. So repeat after me: “I am going to put together a team for this year’s AIDS Walk.” Say it again, with feeling! Now do something about it.
Step 2: Put your goal into writing. Studies show that writing down your goal significantly increases the chances that you will meet your goal. That’s why you need to register right away on the AIDS Walk website (AIDSWalkDelaware.org). It puts your intention out there in the universe, plus the website has a cool thermometer to help you gauge your success.
Step 3: Name your intention. Okay, maybe you don’t need to give a name to your intention, but you do need to give a name to your team. While some team names are straightforward, others are inspirational or whimsical. Maybe the team from your church could register as “The Holy Strollers”? How about the members of your bicycling club becoming the “2 Tired Walkers”? Be as creative as you want!
Step 4: Invite others to join you. Set a modest goal at the beginning, and then grow it as you go along. Why not start by asking five people to join your team? You might extend your invitation to a group you are already a member of, like your Saturday night poker group or garden club. Or you can mix and match team members from people in different parts of your life. Ask a co-worker, a family member, a neighbor, a friend from synagogue, and that cute guy from Facebook to join your team. The more, the merrier!
Step 5: Give others the opportunity to support you. Many people think this step is the hardest one. In truth, it is the easiest. You will be surprised at the generosity of others. They are just waiting to be asked. Mention your AIDS Walk Team in your casual conversations, at the water cooler, during cocktails, anywhere. If an electronic ask is easier for you, you’ll be glad to know that the AIDS Walk website can help you send appeals via email (and help your donors give money securely online if they wish). A simple post on Facebook or Instagram can work wonders!
Take those first steps now and finish up with a lot more steps in this year’s AIDS Walk. For more information about the Walk or to register, visit AIDSWalkDelaware.org. Step up and step out! ▼
Glen C. Pruitt serves as a Quality Improvement Specialist for Delaware’s Ryan White Part B Program of HIV Care Services. He is also the Team Captain of the “RB Bears & Friends” team for AIDS Walk Delaware this year.