It’s been awhile, but the CAAG of South-Central Indiana is still going strong! One of our biggest annual events, Bloomington AIDS Walk, happened in April. With so many different walks for so many different causes, it’s important to remember why AIDS Walk still holds so much significant in our community. We interviewed Larisa Niles-Carnes, a health educator with IU Health’s Positive Link, to get a better understanding of why we walk.
IU Health's Positive Link staff gearing up for the walk
Q: In addition to raising money for HIV/AIDS education and care, what is the importance of having an actual walk?
A: The importance of the walk is to raise awarness about and bring attention to the disease. People often become complacent about things if they aren’t reminded regularly, and by having a walk, we are able to show that this is still relevant and something that still affects people daily. It’s also a chance to pay tribute to the lives lost from the disease, but also a chance to celebrate the people who are fighting the disease, to give them support, and to show them that there are people who care about them.
"Even with HIV, I am undefeated."
Q: What kind of people and organizations were represented at the event?
A: We had the largest turn out in years, despite the cold weather. We had a variety of students, community organizations, and supporters show up for the walk. The Monroe County Health Department, Planned Parenthood of Indiana, IU Health’s Positive Link, Illumenate, IUSA, and the Marion County Health Department were the organizations represented. Anyone is welcome to come, whether you know someone who has been affected by HIV or you just believe in supporting education and prevention of the deadly disease.
Walking up Kirkwood Ave.
Walking up Kirkwood Ave.
Q: For the readers familiar with Bloomington, can you tell us about the walk route?
A: Our walk started at Dunn Meadow, up to the Sample Gates, down to College Avenue, down Seventh Street to Showalter Fountain, and then back to Dunn Meadow. I think it’s a great route because we are able to walk down Kirkwood, past people eating outside, and past the library where people stand. There were a lot of students outside that morning, so it was a chance to speak to them as we were walking. This year, the clients and some Positive Link staff made signs that were very well received. It was an opportunity to show why we were walking and to answer questions.
Walkers hold the AIDS Walk sign at Showalter Fountain on IU's campus.
Q: For those who have never attended an AIDS Walk, can you give us 3 reasons why they should consider attending next year?
- To support members in the community that are infected. The disease has so much stigma associated with the disease, so it’s nice for clients to see that people do support them and are there to help fight the disease with them.
- To raise awareness that the disease is still prevalent. It may not be considered a death disease anymore, but there are still many hurdles that someone with HIV might face. To have the awareness in the community, it might help influence individuals to practice safer behaviors.
- To raise money. Money raised at the walk directly helps patients and provides resources to reduce the incidence and prevalence of this disease. This is extremely important now as the funding for prevention is being cut more and more each year.
Thanks, Larisa, for all of your thoughts and information! If you have any questions about the AIDS Walk or any other HIV/AIDS-related programming and education in south-central Indiana, don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.