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    Power of Community Needed for Virtual AIDS Walk SF on July 19

    By Brett Andrews–

    From its best vantage point, this moment is all about the community pulling together. Sheltering in place is an act of community. It’s also a privilege. And when privilege is available, it’s a responsibility. Every day, my team at PRC is problem solving for a growing number of people in need. The health and economic crises imposed by the novel coronavirus have come hard and fast for all of us, but it’s clearly those who were already the most vulnerable among us that are impacted most directly and most direly.

    So, how do we balance privilege and vulnerability? We show up, in community, where we can.

    While much has changed since the dark, early years of the AIDS epidemic, the compassion of AIDS Walk San Francisco participants remains as strong as ever. Born out of the Bay Area’s last health crisis, AIDS Walk remains a seminal opportunity to support those living with HIV/AIDS, to push back against homophobia, racism, and xenophobia, and to champion the complementary services our community needs to end the HIV epidemic once and for all—and now, it’s virtual!

    We need the power of community right now, and the critical frontline Bay Area HIV providers AIDS Walk San Francisco funds need you.

    Livestreamed on ABC7 and your favorite online platforms, AIDS Walk San Francisco will take place on July 19—the very same day in July that the AIDS Walk San Francisco Foundation launched this radical act of community in 1987. Together, as virtual walkers and team leaders and donors, we will raise life-altering funds for the safety net and advocacy organizations continuing to buttress and change the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS in our communities. Then, we will gather in the safety and comfort of our living rooms for an interactive, live celebration worthy of our efforts. Be on the lookout for special guests and special challenges to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

    PRC is spearheading AIDS Walk San Francisco 2020, as the primary beneficiary, with the same innovative vision that has made it a leading provider of wraparound social and behavioral health services and legal assistance in San Francisco. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, we’ve pivoted fast to keep lifelines alive to all those we can. Requests by people living with HIV for emergency financial assistance to pay for the most basic health, housing, and medical expenses keep growing, and we’re trying to expand the pot of money we have available.

    Hourly workers dependent upon the economic vitality of our city are out of work, out of money, and anxious about the future. We’re preparing for a 20% uptick in employment services and related needs, as The Mercury News projects unemployment across the Bay Area will reach 17% or 800,000 lost jobs.

    In the HIV/AIDS advocacy community, we have seen the direct correlation between the conditions where people live, learn, work, and play; and vulnerability to the spread of HIV as well as HIV-related health challenges and mortality through our tireless Getting to Zero efforts. African American and Latino men have the highest rates of HIV diagnosis in the Bay Area, in grossly unrepresentative proportion. In 2018, homeless patients accounted for 20% of newly diagnosed HIV cases, despite only representing 1% of the population.

    Inequities in healthcare access and root conditions fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS today and, in this particular moment, are intensifying the vulnerabilities in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Bay Area, 31,000 people live with HIV/AIDS. Half of those (16,000) live in San Francisco and more than three quarters (12,000+), before the COVID-19 economic crisis, earned less than 50% of the area median income, placing them at high risk of homelessness. Over 4,000 were already subsisting below the poverty line. 

    While there have been many advancements in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, there still is no cure. Many people do not receive the HIV treatment they need because they struggle with poverty, homelessness, substance use, and mental health issues that make stabilizing and managing their health issues increasingly hard.

    An essential priority of the fundraiser, the AIDS Walk San Francisco 2020 Community Grants Program, remains dedicated to providing strategic funding directed at HIV/AIDS service organizations throughout the greater Bay Area in 2020. PRC and all the day’s beneficiaries need you.

    At this moment in this time, I hope you are even more compelled to join me in this critical fundraiser and essential act of community. Register a “walker” team of co-workers, neighbors, or friends today, or join “Team PRC” at Together, in community, we show our strength.

    Leading PRC since 2003, Brett Andrews has overseen PRC’s evolution from a small HIV/AIDS legal service agency to an integrated social and behavioral health provider bent on fighting poverty, stigma, and isolation by uplifting marginalized adults and affecting the social conditions of health. He holds an M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from George Washington University, received the San Francisco Pride Celebration’s Heritage Award for 10+ years of service in 2017, and was appointed to the San Francisco Mayor’s Methamphetamine Task Force.

    Published on May 7, 2020