PALM SPRINGS — More than 2,000 people are expected to gather in Ruth Hardy Park on Saturday, Oct. 20 to participate in the 32nd Desert AIDS Walk in support of Desert AIDS Project (DAP).

Presented by Desert Care Network, this year’s AIDS Walk, with the theme of ‘Community Action Impact’, will follow a 2.5 mile route through downtown Palm Springs. The annual walk is notable for the diversity of community members who come together as teams each year to support DAP and its 12 community partners. The event is family and pet friendly with water stations along the route.

AIDS Walk 2018 needed more than ever [VIDEO]

Bruce Weiss

The community is encouraged to register and walk in the 2018 Desert AIDS Walk by clicking here. 

Bruce Weiss, DAP director of Community Health, recently reflected on why, more than ever, the Coachella Valley needs the Desert AIDS Walk.

“I’ve heard people ask, ‘Why do we still need a Desert AIDS Walk?”  Weiss said in a prepared statement. “Isn’t the epidemic over? These are 20 reasons I’m walking on Oct. 20 in the Desert AIDS Walk.”

  1. HIV Testing — Because in 2017 Desert AIDS Project found 31 people in Coachella Valley who did not know they have HIV, and linked them to lifesaving care.
  2. Access to Medication — Because getting and keeping viral loads below a detectable level keep people healthy and stops HIV transmission.
  3. PrEP Works — Because PrEP is available and taking just one pill a day will stop you from getting infected with HIV.
  4. New Infections — Because gay men continue to be the highest group with new HIV infections, and it impacts black and Latinx men in our region most.
  5. Transgender Health — Because our transgender friends are impacted by HIV more than almost any other group. They suffer from stigma and discrimination, and they struggle to find quality medical clinicians with expertise to serve them.
  6. Fight Stigma — Because somebody has to meet our communities where they’re at, be real about life, and provide non-judgmental education and linkage to services.
  7. HIV — Isn’t Over Because the HIV epidemic isn’t over but the end is in sight if we keep up the effort.
  8. Still Committed — Because D.A.P. and all of us walking and supporting the Desert AIDS Walk shows that our shared commitment has not wavered one tiny bit.
  9. Epidemiology — Because if you stop the effort to end an epidemic so close to the finish line, that epidemic will explode again.
  10. Aging with HIV — Because people living with HIV are living longer but coping with age-related complications and illnesses earlier, and they need critical services and support to survive.
  11. Recovery Community —Because substances like crystal meth are too common in our community and it enables HIV to spread much quicker. Critical services are needed to help people stop using and stay healthy.
  12. Don’t Stop Now —Because you don’t run a race and quit just before the finish line. We are close to an end to this epidemic and we aren’t going to quit now.
  13. New Risk Groups — Because we are still seeing higher rates of new infections in the Coachella Valley among gay seniors and latinx gay males under 30.
  14. PrEP Education & Access —Because too many people still don’t know about PreEP
  15. Educating Medical Providers — Because some medical clinicians in our region don’t want to talk to their patients about HIV, their sexual history, or about PrEP. DAP built a critical program to educate area doctors, and it is working.
  16. No Judgments — Because there are medical clinicians who remain judgmental and negatively biased about HIV care and prevention, DAP needs to offer our community supportive and comprehensive services.
  17. Access to Care — Because for someone living with HIV, obtaining medical coverage for doctor visits, labs and prescriptions is often too complicated. That’s why DAP provides services to help people get covered and stay covered.
  18. We Remember — Because I am old enough to remember when I watched people die, and had to go into people’s houses to clean and do basic chores when they couldn’t walk or get out of bed. Because we are close to bringing the end to this epidemic, continuing to remember those we lost, and saying “Never Again.”
  19. HIV — Awareness Because there is a whole generation of young people who came up not knowing the horror of watching loved ones die, and because I don’t want to see them live with a virus that could have been prevented with multiple strategies.
  20. Community — Because this is my family, my community, my people. I re-dedicate myself each and every Desert AIDS Walk to fight to end new HIV infections and to keep HIV positive people healthy.

Listen to Weiss share his Top 20 List.

Desert AIDS Walk 2018 will feature a Health and Wellness Festival with more than 40 vendor booths, a live DJ, and a kid’s activity zone.