Doctor’s Orders: Do the AIDS Walk This Year!
Back in the Seventies, the makers of Trident® sugarless gum started running television commercials that claimed “four out of five dentists recommended sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.” Of course they implied that the best sugarless gum was their brand. Years later a commercial for Tylenol® raised the bar by stating that “9 out of 10 doctors recommend Tylenol®!” Today we make advertising history by making this claim: HIV clinicians across the state are unanimous in recommending people to register for this year’s Delaware AIDS Walk and to raise money for this important cause.
Well, that feeling was shared by all four of the HIV clinicians interviewed for this article! These dedicated professionals work for Christiana Care Health Services (CCHS). CCHS operates a network of HIV clinics in Delaware, with offices in Wilmington, Newark, Smyrna and Georgetown. They provide HIV medical care for more than 1,600 Delawareans living with HIV disease, and the high quality of their service has been recognized nationally.
“HIV/AIDS impacts 1 in 264 people in our state,” says Arlene Bincsik, Director of the HIV Program at CCHS. “Most new HIV infections can be traced back to people who do not know their status. That’s why it is important that we support the integration of HIV testing into routine medical care and encourage everyone to know their status.” Arlene is proud of the great health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS in Delaware, thanks to the comprehensive, quality HIV services here. Those services cost money, however, and a successful AIDS Walk can help with that. “The AIDS Walk serves two purposes. The first is to raise much needed funding to help support critical programs in our community. The second is to raise awareness that HIV/AIDS is a significant health issue in our state, one that requires our attention.”
This year’s AIDS Walk will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2015, with check-in starting at 9 a.m. and the Walk itself beginning at 10 a.m. Once again, the Walk is being held in two locations. The upstate Walk will be held at the Wilmington Riverfront. The downstate Walk will begin and end at Grove Park in downtown Rehoboth Beach. The 5K Walk route includes many of Rehoboth’s most scenic views, including a portion of the commercial area on Rehoboth Avenue, a portion of the iconic Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, and a stroll through some charming residential sections.
Susan Wilson manages the HIV clinic in Georgetown and walks every year at the AIDS Walk in Rehoboth. She is encouraged by the advances in the treatment of HIV and Hepatitis C. “There has been a major decrease in the number of deaths from HIV/AIDS, compared to when I started in the field 20 plus years ago, “ she said. “Individuals are living with their disease, contributing to the health and economy of their communities with undetectable viral loads and full-time jobs.” There are still plenty of challenges, however. Linda Dean, Susan’s colleague at the Georgetown clinic, summed it up well. “I am concerned”, adds Linda, “because HIV sits positioned at the intersection of social justice, poverty, and racism. Until we increase our successes ameliorating those conditions, we will not be successful against HIV."
HIV/AIDS affects people’s fiscal, as well as their physical, condition. “So many of our patients need financial support to help them through a crisis, and many of them have little or no family support,” said Joni Miller, Clinic Manager in Smyrna. Organizations helping patients also face financial challenges, and the Delaware AIDS Walk raises money for more than a half dozen HIV programs and agencies throughout Delaware. The AIDS Walk is organized collaboratively by AIDS Delaware and the Delaware HIV Consortium, the two largest AIDS Service Organizations in the state. Smaller organizations or programs put together teams to walk at the event, and 50% of the money raised by the team goes directly back to support that program. That is how Sal Seeley and his CAMP Rehoboth Rainbow Walkers raised $4,000 at last year’s Walk for CAMPsafe, CAMP’s HIV prevention program.
To have a successful AIDS Walk, it is important that people register for the Walk and raise money for the Walk. Fortunately, AIDS Delaware and the Delaware HIV Consortium have put together a user-friendly website that makes registration quick and easy. The website also makes it easy to raise money electronically! Through the website, Walkers can generate emails to their families and friends to ask for donations, people can make their donations online, and there are even links for the most popular social media sites. So listen to Linda Dean: “Sign up today for the AIDS Walk…to raise money…and awareness…and besides, everyone can use the exercise!”
To learn more about the Walk, log onto AIDSWalkDelaware.org, email Glen Pruitt, Rehoboth Beach AIDS Walk Coordinator, or call 302-562-2553.