The AIDS Walk 2009 in Phoenix raised over $322,000 to fund HIV/AIDS organizations and agencies, according to the official Web site. The top walker earned over $6,000. Aunt Rita’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to raising funds for HIV/AIDS service organizations, coordinated the walk.
According to The State Press, a student newspaper for Arizona State University, there were more than 2,000 participants. The walk in Phoenix wasn’t the only event to promote funding for HIV/AIDS organizations. Other cities held AIDS walks recently, like San Diego. The Web site http://www.aidswalk.net/ features a directory of all states and cities that have walks.
Women like Patricia Shelton, 56, who lives in New York City, are active members of the HIV/AIDS community and participate in similar events to help others with the virus. HIV positive since 1992, Shelton said in an e-mail that her experience with HIV has changed her life for the better.
Shelton has gotten to educate others about HIV/AIDS because of her experience and has told her story through many outlets. For example, she spoke at the 2003 AIDS Walk in Charlotte, N.C. as the keynote speaker. She was also featured in a documentary, “Seen But Not Heard: AIDS, Sexual Politics and The Untold War Against Black Women,” by Cyrille Phipps (Brooklyn N.Y.). She was interviewed three years ago but this September it was finally showcased at different festivals, universities and at a United Nations Forum.
Shelton’s advice to other HIV survivors is that “each day is a blessing. Live life, enjoy life [and] don’t dwell on the negative aspects of what we are going through, and do not let your bed be your best friend.”
She said she enjoys and appreciates life more due to HIV.
“I wanted to become a teacher so working as a peer educator gives me the opportunity to educate and inform people,” Shelton said.
She added that she loves to travel and has done so because of her experiences. She also watches her diet and eating habits. Unfortunately, there is a downside to HIV and its effects on loved ones.
“I lost so many people, friends, family members and [my] late partner, who died from liver cancer, but he was HIV positive,” Shelton said. “We found out the same day in November 1992 we were positive.”
Shelton will be doing a presentation on female condoms at the Riverside Church World AIDS Day, which is my next article’s topic.