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Thousands walked at AIDS fundraiser

October 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tens of thousands of people pounded the pavement in West Hollywood Sunday for the 25th Annual Los Angeles AIDS Walk. The event has become the largest AIDS fundraiser in the country. This year, it raised over $3.1 million despite the tough economic times.

With every step and every supporter, money was being raised Sunday in West Hollywood for AIDS research.

The annual AIDS Walk is an event Kristen Irving has been participating in every year since a family member was diagnosed with HIV.

"It's very emotional, and it's something that a lot of people would agree in that why don't we have a cure for AIDS yet, why are we here 25 years later, and it's amazing but it's bittersweet," said Irving.

Over 30,000 people turned out Sunday to walk the six miles through Los Angeles.

Felicity Huffman from ABC's "Desperate Housewives" was one of the many celebrities cheering on the crowd.

The first AIDS Walk in the world started in Los Angeles in 1985. Twenty-five years later, the fight for a cure is more urgent than ever.

"Today in L.A., there are 60,000 people living with HIV and as many as a quarter of them don't even know they are infected. It's so important that we get them into testing and get them into treatment care early so they can stay healthy," said Colin Weil of the AIDS Project Los Angeles.

With the budget for HIV and AIDS research facing unprecedented cuts this year, organizers and participants say that this year's walk is more important than ever.

In fact, organizers raised $100,000 less this year versus last year, which reflects the sign of the times but not a sign of discouragement for the participants.

"We sent out mass e-mails to all of our friends and family and reminded them every year to support and come walk if you can, and donate if you can't walk," said Ann Nguyen, an AIDS walk participant.

"I was actually speaking with somebody who was walking for the first time today who I just met here today, and he was in tears crying saying that I can't believe this is the first time I've done this," said Irving.

"It's amazing and I think it's a rare event in L.A. where you get that many people out in mass numbers," Irving added.

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