Stride for Pride
In light of major budget cuts across the state, the upcoming AIDS Run/ Walk for Life is more vital than ever.
By now, many in our community have heard about the major budget cuts affecting HIV/AIDS service programs and organizations across Rhode Island. These devastating decreases in state funding have made us who work in this field have to do the unthinkable—scale back or cut certain services we provide to people living with HIV/AIDS.
This is, of course, not something we want to happen. And as we prepare for our upcoming annual AIDS Run/Walk for Life fundraiser on Saturday, June 1 at Roger Williams Park, we are issuing an urgent call to the community to help us ensure we can continue providing the services on which so many of our clients living with HIV depend, such as our food pantry and hot meal program, emergency financial assistance, housing support, mental health and substance use services, and case management services, to name just a few.
While the current budget picture looks grim, we chose a hopeful theme for this year’s Run/Walk for Life: “Stride for Pride & Show Your True Colors.”The 2019 event unofficially kicks off Pride Month and takes place just two weeks before Rhode Island Pride. In addition, June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which ushered in the modern-day fight for LGBTQ equal rights. In that spirit, we encourage you to run or walk in your most colorful, vibrant costumes, the most eye-catching of which we will award a special prize.
Nearly 2,700 people are currently living with HIV/AIDS in the Ocean State, and HIV continues to disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities, especially young gay and bisexual men. On a brighter note, many tools are helping further the goal of zero new HIV infections. “Undetectable= Untransmittable,” for example, is a campaign teaching the public that a person with HIV who is on medication and achieves an undetectable viral level cannot pass HIV to a partner. In addition, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is up to 99% effective in preventing transmission in HIV-negative individuals. We will also be offering free HIV testing at the Run/ Walk, and will be joined by many other organizations who will have tables set up to provide attendees information about the important work they do. If you are interested in sponsoring the event, please contact me, Mikel Wadewitz, at 659- 6038.
After all, this is what community is about: unity.Together, we are stronger and can support those vulnerable individuals who need a helping hand. Thank you in advance for standing with us to make sure we can continue providing these critically important services.
The AIDS Run/Walk for Life takes place Saturday, June 1 (8am registration/9am kick-off), at the Roger Williams Park Carousel Village. Runners receive a T-shirt and medal; walkers raising $25+ receive an event T-shirt. Register at www.aidswalkforlife.org.
APRI is dedicated to providing a compassionate, nonjudgmental, and collaborative response to the needs of people living with, affected by, and at risk for acquiring HIV. APRI currently provides the largest number of support services in the state for individuals living with HIV/ AIDS, as well as comprehensive prevention and testing services. APRI is a division of Family Service of Rhode Island. For more information, please visit aidsprojectri.org, facebook.com/AIDSProjectRhodeIsland, or twitter.com/AIDSProjectRI.