20,000 people participate in AIDS Walk SF

July 15, 2012 6:56:22 PM PDT
Thousands stepped out Sunday morning for the 2012 AIDS Walk in Golden Gate Park. This is the 26th year for the 10k walk -- an event that has raised more than $3 million for the fight against AIDS. AIDS Walk participant Michelle Dorton and her friends say the rate at which young people are becoming newly infected HIV is alarming and must be stopped.

"It affects us too. The person to your left could have it and not know. The person you wake up to in the morning could have it and you don't know," said Dorton.

Health care workers say that in the United States alone, about 20 percent of those infected don't even know that they have it and that number is about 70 percent worldwide.

ABC7 News anchor Dan Ashley was the MC for the day's event and listed sobering statistics where health officials estimate that in San Francisco, roughly two people are infected with the virus every day- and rates of new cases are rising among gay and bisexual men. Along the route of the walk, were reminders of why raising money to find a cure is so important. Sections of the AIDS memorial quilt were on display, honoring those who have died from AIDS.

"We get to remember these individuals that died because it's not just statistics, there are faces behind the numbers," said Kelly Hart with group AIDS Memorial Quilt.

The money raised by the San Francisco AIDS Project helps to support benefiting organizations like the Marin AIDS Project, who provide free HIV testing to anyone who walks through their door, no questions asked.

Since 1987, AIDS walks in various cities have raised more than $77 million. The Sunday crowed was hoping to add $3 million more to that total and they got really close to that goal. AIDS Walk San Francisco organizers tell us they raised nearly $2.7 million during the event.