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dvsWalkers of all ages raise support Pacific Pride Foundation’s fight against HIV/Aids at their 25th Annual Heart + Sole AIDS Walk. (J Purple Media photo)

By Amy Bernstein for Pacific Pride Foundation

More than 250 walkers recently paraded along Cabrillo Boulevard in honor of Pacific Pride Foundation’s (PPF) 25th Annual Heart + Sole AIDS Walk. Participants walked to raise funds for PPF’s services and to remember or honor loved ones affected by HIV/AIDS.

The walk has raised a total of $75,000 so far, and PPF is continuing to fundraise through the end of the month to reach over $100,000 in donations. The funds will be used to support HIV/AIDS education and outreach services for the thousands of men, women and children affected by or at risk of HIV/AIDS in Santa Barbara County.

“The fight against HIV/AIDS has shifted over the years,” said Colette Schabram, Pacific Pride Foundation executive director. “The danger now is an assumption that the epidemic is over. This misconception and complacency is leading to more infections and less testing.”

At the walk, PPF displayed their new mobile test unit, the Healthy Utility Vehicle (H.U.V)., which will be moved to key locations around town, including college campuses, health fairs, outside bars and local parks to test for HIV/AIDS in the field and provide education and prevention services outside of the office.

In the first hours of operation, PFF has tested 10 individuals for HIV, 6 for Hepatitis C and has reached out to over 80 people about their services. Starting this month, H.U.V. will begin testing for Syphilis.

“The funds raised from the walk will help us continue to provide the testing, outreach and services needed to raise awareness and support the fight against HIV/AIDS,” said Schabram.

PPF is the only provider of free and anonymous HIV testing on the Central Coast. Each year, PFF provides more than 1,500 HIV tests and educates over 3,200 at-risk people on basic HIV prevention.

It also provides food for families and individuals affected by AIDS through food pantries and offers care for HIV-positive clients.

The mission of PPF is to advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community; care for people living with HIV; and prevent the transmission of HIV.

To support the organization with a donation, visit their website.

— Amy Bernstein is a publicist representing Pacific Pride Foundation.

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