Last year, Aid for AIDS of Nevada raised nearly $300,000 at their annual AIDS Walk Las Vegas, and this year they want to beat it. With the support of local entertainment, such as the Chippendales and the Las Vegas Academy Broadway Collective, the annual event—which raises money for prevention and services for those with the disease—takes place at Town Square on April 15, led by grand marshals Penn & Teller.
“[AIDS] has changed with advancements in medication so that it is no longer a death sentence, but it is still a life sentence,” says Andrew Pounders, AFAN’s marketing director. “We need to push harder because the infection rate is still there, even if people can’t see it.”
It is estimated that more than 1 million people are living with a form of HIV/AIDS in the United States. Money raised at the walk goes directly toward helping Las Vegans who are affected by the disease. AFAN provides a number of services, such as medical case management, nutritional supplements, free HIV testing and housing programs.
The AIDS Walk will be kicked off by a pre-walk festival from 8 to 10 a.m., with entertainment, sponsor booths, food vendors and a kids’ area with a bounce house and games. The walk immediately follows and goes to 11 a.m.
With a $350,000 fundraising goal, Penn & Teller are challenging attendees to raise $250 or more, which the famed magicians plan to match dollar for dollar. Prizes, including T-shirts, water bottles and show tickets, are lined up for those who raise the most.
Pounders says that education and awareness are the two most important things when it comes to combating AIDS. In 2017, the CDC acknowledged the validity of the Undetectable=Untransmittable campaign. The U=U campaign, and AFAN, want more people to know that if someone has an undetectable HIV viral load, the HIV is untransmittable. Spreading this message will help to dismantle the stigma that surrounds the disease.
Tickets to the AIDS Walk are free, but AFAN encourages registering online prior to the event. If you are unable to attend the AIDS Walk but still would like to contribute, visit the AFAN website and follow their Instagram and Facebook pages to stay up to date with all AFAN news. Town Square Las Vegas, April 15, 8–11 a.m., afanlv.org