UCSF Shows Up Big for AIDS Walk’s 30th Anniversary

Hundreds of staff, faculty, students and supporters of UC San Francisco braved a blustery Sunday morning in Golden Gate Park to participate in AIDS Walk San Francisco’s 30th anniversary.

UCSF assembled one of its largest-ever groups, with more than 430 registered walkers. Its teams so far have raised more than $150,000 – already beating last year’s final total of $130,000 – with fundraising open through Aug. 12.

Top 5 UCSF Fundraising Teams

1) UCSF Alliance Health Project — $25,714

2) 360 Positive Care & Women's HIV Clinic UCSF — $25,226

3) UCSF ARI/Global Health Sciences — $23,070

4) UCSF/Ward 86 — $21,575

5) UCSF Campus Life Services — $10,415

* Totals as of July 18

Overall, AIDS Walk San Francisco has raised $2.13 million as of July 18, according to organizers.

UCSF has been one of AIDS Walk’s biggest supporters and collaborators since the event launched in 1987 to raise money for HIV programs and services throughout the Bay Area. This year, it also is one of the main beneficiaries, with funds going toward Ward 86 at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, the world’s first dedicated HIV clinic when it opened in 1983 and still one of the top-rated medical care facilities for HIV in the world.

“I still remember 25 years ago when I walked through the doors of Ward 86, I was certain my life would soon end,” Tom Battipaglia, 65, a longtime patient of the clinic, said during the AIDS Walk opening program. “I felt incurable and afraid. But when I left Ward 86 that day, I had renewed optimism because the entire staff gave me hope.”

While breakthrough treatments have successfully prolonged the lives of those living with HIV, the new challenge is caring for an aging population. About 58 percent of HIV patients in San Francisco are over the age of 50, said Dan Wlodarczyk, MD, professor of medicine at UCSF and a physician at Ward 86.

Funds raised for Ward 86 will help establish the Golden Compass Program, an effort to provide multidisciplinary medical care, including heart health, mental health, bone health, strength and fitness; dental, hearing and vision services; and social support and navigation for people over 50 living with HIV.

“This is wonderful, right? Who would’ve thought all those years ago that we would have a problem with people getting old,” Wlodarczyk told the AIDS Walk crowd. “Through your hard work, you’ve raised money in the AIDS Walk and we’re going to be one of the beneficiaries from it. I really appreciate your support.”

Paul Volberding, MD, this year’s AIDS Walk honorary chair and one of the founders of Ward 86, addressed the crowd by phone from Durban, South Africa, where he was attending the 21st International AIDS Conference with the world’s leading scientists, policymakers and advocates. Volberding, now co-director of the UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research, is leading an ambitious effort to uncover the scientific basis for an AIDS cure by 2020.

“We’re all incredibly proud of what we’ve done in San Francisco to begin to end our epidemic, and support from the AIDS Walk will help ensure that the success we’ve made will continue,” he said.

For more campus news and resources, visit Pulse of UCSF.