The 37th annual AIDS Walk Boston takes place both in-person and virtually on Sunday, October 2 at DCR’s Carson Beach in South Boston. The site opens at 8:00 am, the program begins at 9:00 am, and walkers set out at 10:00 am. We’ll once again be walking by the seaside on a 5K route to raise much needed support for vital HIV care and services at Fenway Health and AIDS Action.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports more than 23,000 people living with HIV in the state. Inequitable healthcare structures cause HIV to continue to disproportionately affect Black and Latinx populations, men who have sex with men, and transgender women.
“AIDS Walk Boston brings us together as a community that is united in our shared commitment to ensuring that people living with HIV and AIDS are able to get the care and services they need, and to ending the epidemic,” said Fenway Health Chief Executive Officer Ellen LaPointe.
“This wonderful event, which started in 1986, enables Fenway Health to deliver on our deep commitment to address the disproportionate impact of HIV on traditionally underserved populations including BIPOC people, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and people who inject drugs. We are incredibly grateful to the walkers and volunteers who join us every year to raise essential funds for HIV care and services, and to raise awareness about HIV. We will walk together until HIV/AIDS is a thing of the past.”
- Breakfast will be provided to our Walkers by Dunkin’
- Following a 9 a.m. stage program, the walkers will set out at 10 a.m.
- Masks are not required at this outdoor event but will be available for those who would like to wear them. For anyone participating remotely, the program will stream live at facebook.com/aidswalkboston, after which you can set out on your walk.
- WCVB Channel 5’s Katie Thompson will emcee the stage program, which will include remarks from Fenway Health CEO Ellen LaPointe, the presentation of The Bette Byrnes Award to Amy Boger, MD and Joshua Boger, PhD.
- Drag queen Luna Cruz and Cliff Notez will entertain the crowd.
- Prayer Ribbons, a project commemorating lives lost to HIV/AIDS and anti-LGBTQIA+ violence, will be on display with Provincetown artist Jay Critchley assisting attendees in adding the names of loved ones.
The Bette Byrnes Award
Each year at AIDS Walk Boston we present the Bette Byrnes’s award to an individual or group who has gone above and beyond to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and education within the community. This year we have chosen to present this award to Joshua and Amy Boger, two long-time supporters of Fenway Health, AIDS Action, and AIDS Walk Boston. Joshua founded Vertex Pharmaceuticals in 1989 and focused much of the company’s early work on antivirals and fighting HIV. Joshua and Amy have personally raised well over $220,000 for Fenway Health and AIDS Action. In addition to their generosity, they are happy to put their feet where their wallets are and have walked in every AIDS Walk since its inception! Their dedication to the cause is deep and their impact is profound. For these reasons, Fenway Health and AIDS Action are proud to bestow the Bette Byrnes Award on them during this year’s walk.
The Bette Byrnes Award recognizes an individual or team that has gone above and beyond to promote HIV/AIDS education and awareness while raising critical funds for prevention and wellness services. It is named after Bette Byrnes, who participated in her first AIDS Walk in 1991, the year she learned that her son John was HIV positive. Over the years, Byrnes, who died in 2017, raised more than $500,000 for AIDS Action by participating in the Walk.
- Presenting Sponsor Moderna
- Platinum Sponsors Beth Israel Lahey Health, Biogen, Eastern Bank, and Gilead
- Gold Sponsors Alight Consumer Medical, Janssen, PTC, PWC, Santander, and Vertex
- Bronze Sponsors Abt Associates and Liberty Mutual
- Official Television Sponsor WCVB Channel 5
- Official Breakfast Sponsor Dunkin’
HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in Massachusetts
- According to the Department of Public Health (DPH), The number of persons living with HIV infection in Massachusetts increased by 19% from 19,543 in 2010 to 23,291 in 2019.
- Boston had the highest number of new HIV infection diagnoses from 2017–2019. Other cities and towns with the highest average annual rate of HIV infection diagnosis during 2017 to 2019 included Provincetown, Brockton, Lowell, Lawrence, and Everett.
- Inequitable healthcare structures cause HIV to continue to disproportionately affect Black and Latinx populations, men who have sex with men, and transgender women.
- In 2020, nearly one-third of reported syphilis cases in Massachusetts were co-infected with HIV.
- HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) infections have long been linked, especially among people who inject drugs. In 2017, nearly 1 in 5 people diagnosed with HIV in the state were co-infected with HCV.
- In Massachusetts, Hepatitis C cases have remained high, with 8,000 to 9,000 cases reported each year.
- Based on reported data, DPH estimates that there are over 250,000 people living with HCV infection in Massachusetts.
- In 2019, new HCV cases among young adults who inject drugs outnumbered newly reported cases among older people.