Hundreds of people will gather to walk for a purpose at the annual Chevron Walk to End HIV, formerly known as the NO/AIDS Walk, at Woldenberg Riverfront Park on Saturday, Sept. 28.
WVUE chief meteorologist David Bernard will emcee the walk and local bounce artist Big Freedia headlines the event, celebrating 30 years in New Orleans.
The three-mile walk/run raises awareness of the impact HIV/AIDS continues to have on our community by honoring those living with the disease and remembering those who have passed on. Registration for the walk starts at 8 a.m. An opening ceremony kicks off the walk at 9:30 a.m., and the walk starts at 10 a.m. Participants can enjoy a headlining performance from Big Freedia at noon.
The Louisiana Department of Health recently released their 2018 statistics for HIV, with new infections decreasing by 12 percent since 2016. The number of newly-infected people in Louisiana is estimated to be around 989 during that time period.
This hopeful news comes as CrescentCare and NO/AIDS Task Force is preparing for its annual Chevron Walk to End HIV (formerly known as the Chevron NO/AIDS Walk) on Saturday, September 28 at Woldenberg Park on the Mississippi Riverfront presented by Avita Pharmacy.
“We are seeing the lowest rate of new infections since 1988. It’s under a thousand for the first time which is amazing,” said Jason Halperin, infectious disease doctor with Crescent Care. “Expanding Medicaid has done so much for our state, but we have the tools to end the HIV epidemic.”
In addition to Medicaid expansion, other factors are contributing to the recent success rate. Programs such as PrEP, a once daily pill to prevent HIV infection, and Rapid Start, which gets newly infected people into treatment within 72 hours, are making a big difference according to Dr. Halperin. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates by 2030 there is a possibility to see no new infections nationwide.
“We’ve made such huge strides in controlling HIV,” said CrescentCare development director Rodney Thoulion. “But we must not forget those we have lost, the struggle to get to where we are and the fact that there is still no cure. Hundreds will turn out to walk and to remember those who have passed. Many will celebrate the advances made and how they now live life as undetectable.”
“According to the CDC, there is zero chance of someone who is undetectable to transmit the virus to another person,” Dr. Halperin said. “People who are undetectable lead normally healthy lives and have the same life expectancy as those who have never tested positive.”
For the past nine years, CrescentCare and NO/AIDS Task Force have combined efforts with Chevron to curb the spread of HIV in the metro area.
“Chevron is proud of the work being done by members of the health care community for Southeastern Louisiana and is excited to be a part of these incredible efforts,” said Leah Brown, Chevron Public Affairs Manager. “The advances made in recent years give us hope that this will be the last generation that HIV impacts. We invite everyone to join us for the walk and in supporting CrescentCare and NO/AIDS Task Force.”
Registration for the event is free. Individuals and teams can sign up at endhivnola.com. Those who raise fifty dollars or more will receive a commemorative t-shirt. Awards will also be given for highest fundraiser as well as other team awards.
Funds raised from the Walk will be used by CrescentCare’s NO/AIDS Task Force division to provide vital prevention and treatment services.
Created in partnership with CrescentCare