After two years of participating in mostly virtual events due to the pandemic, UC San Francisco is rallying its community to come together in Golden Gate Park for AIDS Walk San Francisco on July 17 to raise funds for programs and services that benefit people of the Bay Area.
As an institution dedicated exclusively to health, UCSF has participated in AIDS Walk San Francisco since it started in 1987 as part of its longstanding commitment to the health and wellbeing of the community.
For the past 35 years, members of the UCSF community have joined thousands of Bay Area residents who have walked, donated funds, and volunteered in AIDS Walk San Francisco in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS, raising more than $90 million for organizations across seven Bay Area counties.
This year, Francesca Vega, vice chancellor of Community & Government Relations, is leading the charge for the UCSF coalition of teams that has set a fundraising goal of $50,000.
“As a world leader in providing pioneering patient-centered care and ongoing research to find a cure, we understand the importance of raising funds that support these efforts in the community we call home,” Vega says. “I encourage faculty, staff, students and their friends and families to join our UCSF team in AIDS Walk San Francisco.”
At UCSF, about a half a dozen teams have formed that are raising money in a friendly competition to see which team brings in the most money. The team with the highest total of donations wins the coveted AIDS Walk Trophy presented by UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood.
Helping Those Living With HIV
Proceeds raised in the annual 10K fundraising trek this year will go toward the POP-UP program at Ward 86 – one of the nation’s first dedicated HIV outpatient clinics – at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center and UCSF 360 Wellness Center, which has offered cutting-edge care since 1984, among other Bay Area AIDS-related programs and services.
Launched in 2019, POP-UP (Positive-health Onsite Program for Unstably housed Populations) aims to reduce health disparities among homeless and unstably housed individuals living with HIV in San Francisco.
AIDS Walk San Francisco funding will be instrumental to assisting Ward 86 achieve its goals of helping patients with HIV and homelessness become healthier and receive tailored HIV care.
“We are honored here at Ward 86 to be a recipient of AIDS Walk San Francisco funding,” says Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and medical director of Ward 86. “Funds raised will be applied to those living with HIV and homelessness, especially to offer long-acting antiretroviral therapy (ART) to these patients.
“POP-UP has enrolled over 150 of our most vulnerable patients and our low-barrier drop-in care program has managed to increase virologic suppression rates in this population from 0% to 50%, but we still have a way to go to help this population. AIDS Walk San Francisco funding will be instrumental to assisting Ward 86 achieve its goals of helping patients with HIV and homelessness become healthier and receive tailored HIV care.”
Establishing a Model of HIV Care
UCSF’s legacy of leadership in AIDS over the past 40 years began with the emergence of the unknown virus in the early 1980s when San Francisco was the epicenter of epidemic. At that time, UCSF physicians and allied health professionals and staff rose to the challenge of this public health crisis by working with the partners and patients in San Francisco community to develop a standard of practice that became known as “the San Francisco Model” of care.
This model of interdisciplinary collaboration among doctors, nurses, social workers, case managers, psychiatrists, addiction specialists, nutritionists and others has yielded innovations in HIV and infectious disease care and served as a model for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, UCSF’s HIV-focused practices and programs, continue to build on the innovative research and clinical care that furthers understanding of the disease and enables HIV-positive patients to thrive.