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AIDS Walk raises funds for research, services

LOS ANGELES — The 33rd annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles was held Oct. 15 in downtown Los Angeles with thousands walking 10 kilometers to raise funds to fight AIDS/HIV.

The proceeds from the walk benefit APLA Health, which provides food, housing support, benefits counseling and more for people living with and affected by AIDS and the human immunodeficiency virus which causes AIDS, and primary medical, dental and mental health care and HIV prevention services focused on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and other underserved communities.

The opening ceremony included speeches by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, and City Councilman Jose Huizar about the AIDS and HIV crisis in Los Angeles County.

“The Price is Right” host Drew Carey, television personality Carson Kressley, singer Frenchie Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder” cast member Conrad Ricamora and actor A.J. Shively also took part in the opening ceremony.

The walk began and ended at Grand Park across from City Hall. The route followed First Street west to Grand Avenue, south on Grand to Fifth Street, east on Fifth to Olive Street, south on Olive to Venice Boulevard east on Venice to Main Street, north on Main to Third Street, east on Third to Central Avenue and north on Central to First Street.

Post-walk festivities began at noon at Grand Park. The “Downtown Divas of Drag Show” featured Raja Gemini, Bob the Drag Queen, Milk, Naomi Smalls and India Ferrah from the VH1 competition series “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” There also was music, dancing and food trucks.

AIDS Walk Los Angeles is one of the largest, most diverse and highly anticipated annual events in Los Angeles. Last year’s walk raised more than $2 million for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and advocacy programs.

According to the AIDS Walk L.A. website, this year’s walk had raised more than $1.3 million from online donations alone.

Since its inception, the event has raised more than $84 million to fight the disease in Los Angeles County, and the AIDS Walk movement has raised more than a half-billion dollars nationwide.

AIDS Walk Los Angeles was the world’s first fundraising walk to benefit organizations dealing with AIDS. The inaugural walk in 1985 began at Paramount Pictures, then moved to West Hollywood because of security concerns following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

It was held in downtown Los Angeles for the first time last year.

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