AIDS Walk Los Angeles - Be the Change
Staff Writer, October 4, 2008
For most people, difficult economic times that we are facing today put their lifestyles at risk but for people struggling with HIV/AIDS, these times put their lives at risk.
What is "AIDS" all about?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. If you get infected with HIV, your body will make "antibodies," special molecules to fight the infection.
A blood test for HIV looks for these antibodies. If you have them in your blood, it means that you have HIV infection. People who have the HIV antibodies are called "HIV-Positive."
Being HIV-positive, is not the same as having AIDS. Many people are HIV-positive but don't get sick for many years. As HIV disease continues, it slowly wears down the immune system. Viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria that usually don't cause any problems can make you very sick if your immune system is damaged.
How do you get AIDS?
You don't actually "get" AIDS. You might get infected with HIV, and later you might develop AIDS.
Most people get the HIV virus by:
- having sex with an infected person
- sharing a needle (shooting drugs) with someone who's infected
- being born when their mother is infected, or drinking the breast milk of an infected woman
Getting a transfusion of infected blood used to be a way people got AIDS, but now the blood supply is screened very carefully and the risk is extremely low.
Is there a cure for AIDS?
There is no cure for AIDS. There are drugs that can slow down the HIV virus, and slow down the damage to your immune system. There is no way to "clear" the HIV out of your body.
- One out of five people with HIV in Los Angeles do not know they are infected.
- Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the nation and the second most HIV/AIDS-impacted jurisdiction in the United States.
- Between 54,000 and 57,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County. By this estimate, there are enough people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles to fill Dodger Stadium.
Given the fact that shrinking federal funding for HIV prevention has dramatically slowed the progress to stop the spread of HIV, we as human beings have the moral responsibility to share our compassion for people living with HIV/AIDS and determination to end the epidemic in our community.
Even though I personally do not know anyone infected with HIV/AIDS, I was able to sense the psychological pain and sufferings thousands of men, women and children living with HIV and AIDS are going through everyday in their lives. I chose to participate in AIDS Walk Los Angeles that is going to take place on Sunday, October 19, 2008, which is a 6.2 mile walk to help create awareness and raise money for them. AIDS Walk Los Angeles benefits AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).
APLA policy staff advocate on behalf of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, to improving their lives by providing health care; reducing HIV risk by conducting health education; shaping the policy by working with legislators to achieve high-quality care, treatment and prevention services; and sharing ideas with many local and national organizations to increase funding and help shape the U.S. response to AIDS worldwide.
Low-income people living with HIV/AIDS right here in Los Angeles must now make unthinkable choices: Food or medicine? Housing or health care?
They need YOUR help.
There are three ways that you can help.
1. Sponsor a Walker/Make a General Donation,
2. Form or join a team and
3. Help spread the word!
This is a great opportunity for all of us to help the affected victims in whatever way we can and pray that AIDS will one day soon be history.