When someone in our community is impacted by HIV/AIDS we all feel the affect. For thousands of South Los Angeles County residents living with HIV/AIDS, your participation in the Walk is a march toward ending this epidemic in our society. AIDS Walk Long Beach is a day for our community and citizen to rally behind a cause for a disease that can be erradicated from a two-prong approach. Education and Prevention programs; and Health and Wellness programs for those with HIV/AIDS.
The estimated lifetime healthcare cost of assisting someone with HIV/AIDS is $378,000. This cost is absorbed by everyone, including you as a taxpayer. So this day is not only a day to help us bring an end to new HIV infections, it is also a day to remember and reflect why this is an annual event. Until we bring a serious reduction in new HIV infections by getting the message out to every person between the ages of 15 and 24 who account for 40% of all new infections, until we get into every corner of our communities who still believe it does not affect them, until we end the shame and isolation that still comes with an HIV diagnosis, until we get to the homeless and substance abuse populations engaging in unsafe sex and impacting those unaware of their HIV infection, and until we reform prevention programs that have true measureable impacts on prevention...the Long Beach AIDS Foundation will continue to host AIDS Walk Long Beach.
This is a day for you to be proud of the steps you are taking to help change someone's life. Even if one person walk away with the message about HIV and how to avoid it, that amount to a $378,000 savings! It's a day to take notice of and be thankful for the friends and neighbors around you who share your concern and compassion for others in need. And it's a day to stand up and be counted. A day for thousands of us to show that, contrary to lack of media evidence, we haven't forgotten that people are still dying from AIDS. Our cause will remain true.
AWLB provides funding to many agencies and organizations on the front line in the battle against AIDS. These organizations are working to change the course of the epidemic. Though according to the Center for Disease Control the number of those dying from AIDS as a result of the medicines available, the number of HIV infections are still increasing. In some populations and underserved communities it is having a serious impact.
South Africa has reduced new HIV infections by 25% through education and treatment programs within 6 years. The United States has hardly made any measureable reduction in new HIV infections in 30 years. Don't you believe it's time we seriously worked toward reversing the trend? It's time we rally our community back into the cause. Challenge every organization to do better and provide real education and prevention programs to our youth and adolescents that work. At the Long Beach AIDS Foundation, we have created several 'unfunded' programs that have produced real positive and measurable impacts on our community. We service approximately 7100 people annually through direct and indirect program services. Even if only 10% of the people we interact with annually made changes in their life to avoid HIV and STIs, imagine the savings outcomes we all save as taxpayers.