The AIDS Foundation of St. Louis' fifteenth Annual AIDS Walk (Saturday, April 17, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) won't help the Gateway City lose its recently earned distinction as one of America's fattest cities -- the walk itself is only two miles. It may, however, help our city lose another distinction: With about 5,000 reported HIV/AIDS cases, St. Louis has one of the highest infection rates in the nation. And Thomas Adams, executive director of the AIDS Foundation of St. Louis, estimates the actual number of cases to be three to four times that amount.
To make matters worse, St. Louis got gypped when the feds were giving out grant money for HIV/AIDS services. Among the 51 cities that applied for a Ryan White Title I federal grant, the St. Louis region received the least -- despite the fact that AIDS/HIV cases have doubled here over the past year.
Though the AIDS Foundation receives no Title I money, Adams says the organization will still the feel the impact of the cuts. He anticipates that the foundation, which funds smaller organizations that provide HIV/AIDS services, will augment some of the lost Title I money.
"That's why it's important for people to participate in the AIDS Walk this year -- now that money is needed more than ever. We're encouraging people to raise as much money as they can to help the AIDS Foundation step up to the plate and supplement some of those losses," Adams says.
The AIDS Walk is the foundation's largest fundraising event. Registration begins at 10 a.m. at Kiener Plaza (Seventh and Market streets); the walk, with honorary chairwoman Deanne Lane of KSDK-TV (pictured, with Adams), gets under way at 11:30 a.m. An AIDS Walk Awards ceremony starts at 8 p.m. at the Hard Rock Café (450 Union Station, $20). Chic, CITY Improv Comedy Club, Brandy Johnson and former Poppies 3 member Randy LaBrott will give performances.
The AIDS Foundation of St. Louis wants to raise $150,000 from this year's AIDS Walk. To help the foundation reach that goal (or exceed it) or for more information, call 314-367-7273 or visit www.aidstl.org.