AIDS Walk LA marches to end stigma, raise awareness in its 35th year

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Throngs of walkers gathered in front of Los Angeles City Hall on Sunday morning for the 35th annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles.

"This is such an important walk," said ABC7's Karl Schmid. "Ten thousand people gathering in the streets all to raise money for APLA Health and AIDS related charities."

APLA Health is a nonprofit organization that provides health care for people living with and affected by HIV, as well as the LGBT and other undeserved communities in Los Angeles County.

"We operate 16 centers across LA County," said APLA CEO, Craig Thompson. "We provide over 20 services and basically everything for someone at risk for HIV or living with HIV would need to live a happy, healthy life."

Since 1985, the annual event has raised over $88 million for those affected by HIV and AIDS.

"This event is 35 years old," said Thompson. "It used to be about remembering the people we lost. Now, it's very exuberant and happy because we are talking about ending the epidemic in our lifetime."

According to APLA Health, there are currently 60,000 people living with HIV or AIDS in Los Angeles County.

"Our AIDS Walk LA team has grown each year and it means a lot to people because everyone knows someone who was affected by HIV," said ABC7 Eyewitness News Anchor, Ellen Levya.

Levya, alongside On the Red Carpet correspondent, Karl Schmid, helped host AIDS Walk LA. ABC7 was a Grand Sponsor of the event for the 8th year.

"We have the tools and the science right now to end this epidemic," said Schmid. "But because of stigma the virus keeps spreading. So the more we can talk about it and say the letters HIV out loud, the better."
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