The 36th annual AIDS Walk & Run Boston takes place both in-person and virtually on Sunday, September 26 at DCR’s Carson Beach in South Boston. The site opens at 7:30 a.m. and this year we’ll be walking and running by the seaside on a new 5K route to raise much needed support for care and services at Fenway Health and AIDS Action.
- Following a 9 a.m. stage program, the runners will set out at 9:30 a.m. followed by the walkers at 10 a.m. The 5K run is a competitive, timed event sanctioned by USA Track & Field with awards given in open, male, and female categories.
- Everyone attending the in-person event will be required to wear a face mask, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. For those participating remotely, the program will stream live at com/aidswalkboston, after which you can set out on your walk or run.
- WCVB TV 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 the Liberty Mutual Foundation, and warm-up and stretching with Trillfit.
- A Music Festival with food trucks follows the Walk, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The festival will be headlined by Boston-based Genie Santiago and will also include performances from CARAMELO Boston, Just JP!, Sham Payne, Sasha Stone, and band Weird Autumn, high school students from Newton who met while attending Brown Middle School, one of the Walk’s largest fundraisers. 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 AIDS Walk & Run unites thousands of participants to walk together towards a brighter future free of new HIV infections, and a healthier present for those living with HIV/AIDS,” said Fenway Health CEO Ellen LaPointe. “This event, which has been happening since 1986, enables Fenway Health to deliver on our deep commitment to provide care to the LGBTQIA+ community, people living with HIV/AIDS, and the people in our neighborhoods and beyond.”
The Bette Byrnes Award
The Liberty Mutual Foundation will receive this year’s Bette Byrnes Award for their commitment to protecting our most vulnerable communities. Since 2003, they have given approximately $250 million to over 1,300 organizations, including a three-year, $300,000 grant to Youth on Fire (YOF), AIDS Action’s drop-in center for homeless and street-involved youth. This grant will allow us to expand that program to better respond to the needs of the vulnerable young people we serve. The foundation has also committed an additional $100,000 to YOF to address the challenges of the pandemic.
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.
- Sapphire Sponsors Beth Israel Lahey Health, Boger Family Foundation, Eastern Bank, and Gilead
- Official Livestream Sponsor Alnylam
- Amethyst Sponsors Biogen, Consumer Medical, Karyopharm Therapeutics, KPMG, Liberty Mutual, Mass General Brigham, and PWC
- Wellness Sponsors Abt Associates, American Tower Corporation, Boston University, and Planned Parenthood
- Media Sponsors DigBoston, Hot 96.9, Mix 104.1, RENT 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour, Rock 92.9, WCVB 5, and Yelp
- 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 in Massachusetts increased by 21% from 19,037 in 2009 to 23,073 in 2018.
- DPH and the Boston Public Health Commission confirmed an outbreak of new HIV cases among people who inject drugs and have experienced recent homelessness, historically hard to reach populations.
- A total of 113 cases since 2018 have been investigated and identified as part of the cluster, including 13 newly identified cases between January 1, 2021 and February 28, 2021.
- Inequitable healthcare structures cause HIV to continue to disproportionately affect Black and Latinx populations, men who have sex with men, and transgender women.
- In Massachusetts, Hepatitis C (HCV) 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.
- The CDC and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends universal screening and testing for adults aged 18 to 79. In MA in 2018, the DPH reported that the 15-39 age group has a higher rate of HCV infection compared to all other age groups.
- More from DPH: HIV / Hepatitis C / Opioid Use