MIAMI BEACH

25th annual walk benefits people with HIV, AIDS

 

msanchez@ElNuevoHerald.com

More than a thousand people took to the streets Sunday in Miami Beach to raise funds for South Floridians with HIV or AIDS.

It was the 25th anniversary of AIDS Walk Miami, a 5K walk to benefit Care Resource, a community organization that provides medical, dental, psychological and other kinds of help to more than 15,000 people who have or are impacted by HIV or AIDS.

Organizers hoped to raise at least $250,000.

“We can only do what we do because you keep coming back, year after year, and have united with us to say that the job is not finished yet,” said Rick Siclari, chief executive of Care Resource, in a ceremony held before the walk at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The event was attended by a preeminent AIDS researcher, Robert Gallo, who in 1984 helped establish HIV as the cause of AIDS.

In a brief speech before the walk, Gallo said one of his greatest accomplishments was when he and his team were able to develop a blood test to detect HIV.

“It helped us follow the epidemic for the first time,” he said. “It convinced the scientific community that this was the cause of AIDS.”

But Gallo also said that he was “disappointed because people aren’t getting tested regularly.” This is particularly important in Miami-Dade County, which has the nation’s highest number of new HIV cases.

Some 24,151 people in Miami-Dade and 15,638 in Broward County are HIV-positive or have AIDS, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Gallo implored the audience to take advantage of the available tests and treatment.

“Get tested, get treatment,” he said. “This epidemic will disappear — that is the truth.”

Tyler Curry, a writer and an activist, was 28 when he was diagnosed with HIV in 2012. For him, one of the most important ways to help those who carry the virus is informal conversation among friends.

“Many of us are afraid of talking about it because of the stigma,” he said. “But conversation can help a lot.”

To make a donation or learn more about Care Resource services, visit www.careresource.org. To contact its headquarters and medical care center in Miami, call 305-576-1234 or visit 3510 Biscayne Blvd.

To contact the Miami Beach care center, call 305-673-3555 or visit at 777 17th St., Suite 400.

The Broward care center is located at 871 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Oakland Park. Its telephone number is 954-567-7141.

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