The March Continues: UCSF Takes Lead in 25th Annual AIDS Walk San Francisco

By Lisa Cisneros

As the nation observes 30 years since the start of the AIDS epidemic, those serving on the frontline in patient care and research say the need to invest in programs and services to treat and stop the spread of the disease is still great – more than 50,000 people are infected with HIV every year in the US.

Stock image of couple holding hands

To raise awareness and funds in AIDS Walk San Francisco, UCSF is hosting a special screening of a documentary depicting the arrival of AIDS at San Francisco General Hospital and a talk by UCSF's Jay Levy, co-discoverer of HIV as the cause of AIDS, who will speak about the quest for a cure at UCSF on June 29.

This year, the UCSF community is reflecting on the progress made to date tackling AIDS and the scores of lives lost since the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published findings from the first five cases of the mysterious virus on June 5, 1981.

San Francisco became the first city in the country to experience epidemic levels of the disease and the City and County rose to the unprecedented challenge. Working in partnership with colleagues at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, community-based organizations and others, health care professionals at the UCSF-affiliated San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) responded to the arrival of AIDS by establishing the "San Francisco model of care," which, simply put, provides a holistic approach to treating the disease that is now a national model.

To help raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and UCSF's historic and heroic role in combatting it, the University will host a special screening of "Life Before the Lifeboat: San Francisco's Courageous Response to the AIDS Outbreak," at noon on Wednesday, June 29, in Cole Hall Auditorium on the Parnassus campus. UCSF's Paul Volberding, MD, a professor of medicine who saw his first AIDS patient at SFGH in 1981, orchestrated the film that tells the heart-felt stories of physicians, nurses, public health leaders and patients at the onset of the epidemic. Read more about the film.

"Life Before the Lifeboat" promo

UCSF will host a free screening of this documentary at Cole Hall Auditorium on June 29.

Following the screening of the film, Jay Levy, MD, a professor of medicine who co-discovered HIV as the cause for AIDS in 1983, will share his perspective on current research into HIV/AIDS and the ongoing quest for a cure, a prospect that is viewed more optimistically now that an American man has reportedly been cured of the disease. Read the story

A Walk in the Park

Today, nearly 16,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in San Francisco and every day, two more people are infected with HIV, according to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. UCSF and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation are doing their part to raise awareness of and money for HIV/AIDS care, research and prevention efforts through the San Francisco AIDS Walk, now in its 25th year. Since 1987, AIDS Walk San Francisco has raised nearly $74 million for HIV programs and services in the Bay Area. 

This year's AIDS Walk San Francisco, a trek through Golden Gate Park, is slated for Sunday, July 17. 

Funds raised by AIDS Walk San Francisco enable the foundation to provide services that improve the quality of life for thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS and focus prevention efforts on those at greatest risk of contracting the disease. Beneficiaries of the walk include the 360: Positive Care Center at UCSF, the UCSF AIDS Health Project, UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and the Women's HIV Program at UCSF.

UCSF faculty, staff, students, trainees, friends and family members are encouraged to join the UCSF coalition to raise money at the event. As of June 21, the UCSF contingent has raised more than $18,500, putting it on top of the leader board of the high-performing organizations. UCSF traditionally is among the top 10 fundraising teams and the UCSF AIDS Walk Steering Committee is attempting to repeat those results, setting the combined UCSF fundraising goal at $50,000.

UCSF AIDS Walk T-shirt

Those who contribute a minimum of $25 to AIDS Walk San Francisco, will get a T-shirt commemorating 30 years of AIDS designed by UCSF's Tony Taliaferro.

"UCSF teams are working diligently to get the word out that, in this the 30th year since AIDS was first reported, the march must continue toward eradication of this disease," says Jennifer Mannix, co-chair of the UCSF AIDS Walk Steering Committee and manager of Arts and Events for Campus Life Services.

Those who contribute at least $25 in AIDS Walk San Francisco can wear with pride the UCSF commemorative AIDS Walk T-shirt designed exclusively for UCSF by Tony Taliaferro, a web production artist in University Relations.

All walkers will also enjoy complimentary breakfast by Peasant Pies and a box lunch by Palio Paninoteca. The box lunches include sandwiches with a choice of chicken, ham, tuna or vegetarian. 

To join a team or to contribute to a walker already registered on one of the UCSF teams, please go to the team page here and scroll down to the UCSF teams. 

The top five individual fundraisers will each receive a prize. The top two prizes are a $300 gift certificate to Macy's and two tickets to Disneyland valued at $200. The tickets must be redeemed at the park by Dec. 31, 2011. The team that brings in the most money through the walk will win the UCSF AIDS Walk Trophy, a prize currently held by the team from UCSF Global Health Sciences.

Editor's note: "Life Before the Lifeboat: San Francisco's Courageous Response to the AIDS Outbreak" will be aired on KQED on Sunday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m. The film is produced and directed by Shipra Shukla, formerly of UCSF Public Affairs, who has since started her own video production company.

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