Walk for Life raises AIDS awareness

Community raises money for people with HIV and AIDS

The AIDS/HIV walk raised $3,000 this past Sunday.
The AIDS/HIV walk raised $3,000 this past Sunday.
Krystal Kehoe

Anticipation, enthusiasm and determination characterized the mood of a group of Queen’s students who marched alongside community members in the annual AIDS Walk for Life on Sunday.

“We wanted to show solidarity with the Kingston HIV/AIDS community,” said Krystal Kehoe, ArtSci ’05 and former chair of the Queen’s Aids Awareness Committee.

Members of the Queen’s Aids Awareness Committee participated in the walk, which raised money for people living with HIV or AIDS in the Kingston community.

According to HIV/AIDS Regional Services in Kingston, an estimated 56,000 Canadians are currently living with either the HIV virus or AIDS.

In 2002, between 2,800 and 5,200 people became infected. Of those estimated to be living with HIV, approximately 17,000 are not aware they are infected.

Anna Dabu, ArtSci ’05 and committee member, said it’s important that University-aged men and women are kept informed about HIV and AIDS.

“One of our reasons for increasing awareness on the Queen’s campus is that over 50 per cent of new infections are occurring in the under-24 age group,” Dabu said.

The AIDS walk is the largest event for the committee, said member Zoe Costa, ArtSci ’05.

The walk began at the MacDonald Park Pavillion at 11 a.m., and proceeded along Barrie, Princess and King streets, and ended back at the pavilion at noon.

But Dabu said although a large number of people participated in the walk, the turnout was not as large as in past years.

Last year more than 125 people participated in the walk, this year the number fell to 65.

She said the drop in the number of participants in the AIDS walk could stem from a misconception that the rise in HIV and AIDS infections only affects the homosexual population, Dabu said.

“We’re finding the heterosexual population is experiencing this increase at the same rate as the homosexual population,” she said.

Event organizer John MacTavish said $3,000 was raised on Sunday.

But MacTavish said the number is not final, as HIV/AIDS Regional Services accepts funds raised from the walk for 30 days after the event.

This allows people who did not attend the walk to bring in any pledges they may have received, and to bring in donations from other sources.

“Every penny that goes in goes right back to people with HIV,” he said.

As they moved through downtown Kingston, students carrying colourful signs promoting the cause drew attention from people in restaurant patios and passing cars.

A boy rolled alongside the group on his scooter, with a red ribbon representing the AIDS cause pinned to his T-shirt.

The Queen’s AIDS Awareness Committee participates in a variety of activities and fundraisers to increase general knowledge and understanding of the issues concerning HIV and AIDS.

The committee took part in the sidewalk sale earlier this year, and was present at ‘Queen’s in the Park’ during Frosh Week, Costa said.

They will be putting together and selling a calendar profiling university athletes later this year.

The committee also welcomes donations. One anonymous source donated $500.

Donations to the AIDS walk can be sent in envelopes marked ‘AIDS Walk’ to HARS, 844A Princess Street Kingston, Ontario K7L 1G5

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