UCSF to Commemorate ‘Generations of Impact’ at AIDS Walk San Francisco

By Lisa Cisneros

With more than a dozen teams formed, UC San Francisco is stepping up to raise funds for AIDS Walk San Francisco as it has since the start of the event in 1987.

As a San Francisco institution dedicated exclusively to health, UCSF has led the way in AIDS Walk San Francisco, which has rallied the Bay Area community to collectively raise more than $90 million for HIV programs and services and has grown into the largest and most visible AIDS fundraising event in Northern California.

This year, the annual 10K fundraising trek has made UCSF’s Ward 86 – the world’s first dedicated HIV outpatient clinic – one of its leading beneficiaries along with other Bay Area AIDS-related programs and services. The fundraising will benefit Ward 86’s new POP-UP Clinic, which provides flexible, comprehensive, and patient-centered care for homeless and unstably housed individuals in San Francisco who are living with HIV. 

It’s fitting that the theme for UCSF's team T-shirt carries the slogan “Generations of Impact.”

For Jennifer Dowd, a member of the UCSF AIDS Walk Steering Committee and vendor services manager for Campus Life Services, this cause is personal. “I’m dedicated to increasing awareness. My friend and colleague, Red Mangio, had AIDS but did not seek treatment. I hope no one else has to go through what he did. There are so many services available, and the money from the walk helps a variety of local service organizations that provide access to health care, nutritious meals, housing, education, and more for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS in the Bay Area.”

So far, UCSF’s coalition of teams has raised nearly $19,000 in its overall quest to raise $100,000 in the event that takes place on Sunday, July 14, at Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park.

This year, due to recent federal actions to curb HIV research and other efforts to roll back civil rights of the LGBTQI community, UCSF AIDS Walk enthusiasts are even more adamant about participating in AIDS Walk San Francisco.

“I’m motivated to participate in community-building events like AIDS Walk because it reaffirms our commitment to protect the fundamental rights of the LGBTQ community and our entire San Francisco community,” said Allie Jones, manager for advocacy and communications in UCSF Community and Government Relations. “I’m proud that UCSF has been a leader in HIV research for decades. Since the inception of the epidemic, we have filled in the gaps in HIV treatment and prevention when there was no support for the LGBTQ community. We are unfortunately at another impasse in history when we must rise together again and remind the federal government of the critical importance of HIV research funding to find a cure.”

In response, this year, UCSF formed its first-ever UCSF Advocates team to raise awareness of the need for continued federal funding to support HIV research to find a cure for the 1.1 million Americans currently living with the disease. Along with raising funds for AIDS Walk San Francisco, UCSF staff will also encourage members of the broader community to join the advocacy program to stand up for values and policies fundamental to UCSF’s mission of health care, science, research and education and its values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“UCSF is a values-based and mission-driven institution, and attracts people who are driven to make change,” Jones added. “UCSF Advocates gives our community a vehicle to create change and take action on local, state, and federal policy issues that impact UCSF.”

Ward 86 to Benefit from AIDS Walk

Since the emergence of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s when San Francisco was the epicenter of the unknown disease, UCSF physicians and allied health professionals rose to the occasion working with the San Francisco community to provide compassionate care.

Physicians including Paul Volberding, MD, founded Ward 86 at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital in 1983, developing a practice that came to be known as “the San Francisco Model” of care – encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration among doctors, nurses, social workers, case managers, psychiatrists, addiction specialists, nutritionists and others – that has yielded innovations in HIV and infectious disease care.

Today, Ward 86, along with UCSF’s other HIV-focused practices and programs, continues to build on the research and clinical care that furthers understanding of the disease and empowers patients to thrive.

When Ward 86 was a top beneficiary in AIDS Walk San Francisco in 2016, the clinic received a check for $100,000 to launch its Golden Compass Program for middle-aged HIV-positive patients.

“It warms my heart to see the huge turnout from UCSF each year,” said Robert Mansfield, a member of the UCSF AIDS Walk Steering Committee and an administrative officer for the Institute for Global Health Sciences. “Of course, UCSF is on the front end of care and research, but this is a way for everyone to participate and the results are tangible with funding for Golden Compass and this year the Ward 86 POP-UP program. This is a way to make those $2, $5 and $20 donations work in a very impactful way.”