Charlottesville AIDS Walk 2011 – Making a Difference

Posted on September 29, 2011 by

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Did you know that about 21,000 Virginians are known to be living with HIV/AIDS, and about 4,500 more have yet to realize that they are infected?

Many people who are not directly affected by HIV/AIDS assume that it is not their battle to fight.  However, as long as HIV/AIDS affects some of the members of our Charlottesville community, it affects all of us – so it is up to all of us to help.

Twenty-five years ago, a group of individuals in Charlottesville understood the vast importance of taking care of our local community, so they formed ASG (AIDS/HIV Services Group) with the goal of providing “volunteer-driven support to people who were often abandoned by families and friends.”

The mission of ASG, a non-profit organization, is “building community for people living with, affected by or at risk for HIV or AIDS.”  The group provides a variety of programs and services, such as emergency housing, mental health services, confidential support groups, and education sessions.  All community services “are available regardless of ability to pay or HIV status.”

Follow the example of those special individuals twenty-five years ago and help make a difference in our community.  Start this Saturday, Oct.1, by participating in the AIDS Walk 2011, a fundraising event aimed at raising money to benefit ASG.  Check-in starts at 7:30 a.m at the Pavilion, and the Walk begins at 9 a.m.

Registration is free, and everyone who raises $25 will receive a Charlottesville Challenges AIDS Walk/Run Commemorative 2011 T-Shirt and Tote Bag.

An Inside Look:

Here are a few words from Hannah Green, the ASG Public Relations Coordinator, about her personal experience with the organization.

1) What made you decide to get involved with ASG?

I got first got involved with ASG when I was a student at U.Va. I volunteered at HIV testing events and I enjoyed working on HIV education, prevention, and advocacy at a community level. Often we hear a lot about HIV in Africa or other parts of the world and I liked getting my feet wet locally.

2) Since you began working for ASG, how has the group changed? What kind of impact has it made on the Charlottesville community?

Since I have been at ASG, we have expanded our services to provide prevention, education, counseling, and other assistance to anyone living with, affected by, or at risk for HIV or AIDS. This means we are providing more mental health support services to the community. For example, we just started offering a one-on-one wellness program called CLEAR that helps people identify and reach their life goals.

3) How do you hope to see ASG grow or change in the future?

I hope that more community members take advantage of our great services. We are currently in the Ix Building and I would like to see us move to a more visible location where people could drop in for services without the stress of stigma.

4) Details about Project Thrive?

Project Thrive is a wellness course and dinner series for gay and bisexual men that helps them achieve their wellness goals in a supportive, social environment. Each week, local professionals come and present on topics like stress management, nutrition, and exercise.

5) If you had to choose one fact that you would like people to know about ASG, what would it be?

One thing most people do not realize about ASG is that for every person we serve who is living with HIV, we work with ten people who do not have HIV!

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