There was an AIDS walk on April 24, 1999, held right here in Los Angeles. I am sure many of us were unaware of the event. As HIV positive women and especially as women of color, we should strive to become more aware of these types of events which are intended to help us.
The walk I speak of was the Third Annual Southern California Regional AIDS WALK for Minority Women and Children, sponsored by: Congresswoman Jaunita Millender-McDonald and The League of African-American Women. Regional events are good and very important. However, the lack of publicity surrounding this event underscores the need for women to mobilize on a National level.
There were three thousand or more participants at the walk. I was among them. Still, as a woman living with HIV/AIDS, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. The lack of participation from the AIDS Community and all of it's organizations was extremely noticeable. In addition, I didn't see very many of my friends who I know are themselves, women facing this issue of HIV/AIDS, (those who are infected as well as those who are affected by the epidemic).
At one of the pre-walk meetings, I was asked by the honorable Congresswoman Millender-McDonald, to speak at the actual event. I spoke and I walked. Still, I felt so alone. I felt like I was the only person there who actually has this disease. Yet, I know that women of color are the fastest growing segment of the population becoming infected with HIV. So, where are you-
In spite of the lack of visibility of infected women, I must say that the energy level was very intense. In fact it was so invigorating that I was able to actually do the 5k walk. This was a big deal, a real "giant step" for me. Just to be able to walk at all was quite a personal accomplishment, because I've had severe neuropathy in my feet for the last year. Over most of the year I was unable to wear shoes, let alone walk in them. I've only had a few good days out of 365. This day was one of those. And I felt lucky that I was able to wear shoes and participate in the walk.
Willing and able
So for those of us who are able to walk, lets get our sneakers in gear and our bodies in training for The Fourth Annual Southern California Regional AIDS WALK for Minority Women and Children. All people are invited to attend.
Remember, that women are the fastest growing group to become infected with HIV. Now is the time for us to join hands and show our solidarity in the fight against this disease. Our movement is growing in numbers too, as we fight for access to new medications. And we fight for access into clinical trials. And we fight for the rights to privacy, so that our names are not reported to the government. We are faced with numerous issues when we have HIV. And, united with our sisters in the struggle, we are a strong force to be dealt with.
We here at Women Alive would also like to take the opportunity to thank Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, as well as The League of African-American Women for sponsoring this walk and to the many many organizers.