AIDS Walk Detroit comes to Royal Oak

By |2005-09-08T09:00:00-04:00September 8th, 2005|Entertainment|

BY Sharon Gittleman

ROYAL OAK – With gasoline skyrocketing above $3 a gallon and the costs of everyday living nearly zooming out of reach, it would be easy to ignore this year’s Steppin’ Out AIDS Walk Detroit fund-raising march.
Organizers hope you won’t turn away from your brothers and sisters in need.
This year, the 15th annual walk will have a new home base – the parking lot outside Royal Oak Farmers Market, located on 11 Mile, just north of Main Street. Registration for participants starts at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 18. The walk begins at 10 a.m., snaking through Royal Oak from the Market, around the Royal Oak Public Library and City Hall, down to Woodward and back to the lot.
“Each individual has to make their own giving decisions based on what’s right for themselves and their families,” said Ken Rosen, president of the board of directors for Steppin’ Out, the sponsor of AIDS Walk Detroit. “Steppin’ Out is one of the few organizations geared to helping multiples agencies within the HIV-AIDS community.”
Agencies that benefit from the walk range from the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project and Simon House to Latino Family Services and the Deaf Community Advocacy Network.
“They help people with medication, medical care, food, clothing, shelter and transportation to and from doctors – all the things necessary for people who are HIV positive to maintain a healthy life,” said Rosen. “We also support educational programs that we hope will prevent people from becoming HIV positive in the future.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2003, an estimated 43,171 people were newly diagnosed with AIDS. That same year, 18,017 people died from the disease.
“Kids, young people and minorities continue to get infected every day,” said Rosen. “People believe HIV is a livable manageable disease – like diabetes. It’s not and it’s still not curable. Nor is it an easy lifestyle.”
Rosen doesn’t have high hopes for the future.
“HIV is an extremely clever bug. It can change itself within the human body. It has proven itself to be incredibly resilient in maintaining itself in the face of different drugs,” said Rosen. “Even if the medical community would come up with a vaccination or a better treatment tomorrow, that won’t help people who are currently HIV positive today and that’s where our money goes to.”
This year, Steppin’ Out will benefit from the efforts of over 500 volunteers, said Rosen. Rosen said he expects to see over 4,000 walkers and their supporters on the streets of Royal Oak.

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.