The 29th annual Colorado AIDS Walk brought hundreds of people to Denver this weekend to support the cause. The Colorado AIDS Project's annual fundraiser was expected to bring in around $250,000, but unfortunately they fell short — way short.
The event raised $120,000, a drastic difference from Walk initiatives in other cities, like AIDS Walk New York, which raised $4.88 million this year.
According to local organizers, the state of Colorado has seen a significant decrease of donations to HIV causes in the last decade. If it doesn’t turn around quickly, the chances of seeing another AIDS Walk in Colorado is slim.
Nearly 30 years ago, the event was the first fundraiser for HIV awareness in the Rocky Mountain region. In its prime, AIDS Walk Colorado raised millions of dollars for the cause — nearly $2 million in 1996 alone. So why the sudden decrease of donations?
Event manager Jeff Trujillo suggested to Kelly Werthmann of Denver CBS4 that because HIV-positive people are living longer thanks to antiretroviral drugs, it has created a “false impression” that AIDS is no longer a problem this generation needs to focus on.
Meanwhile, AIDSVu reported 401 new HIV diagnoses in Colorado in 2014 alone, adding to the nearly 12,000 Coloradans already living with the virus.
Despite the decrease of funds, organizers say they will continue fighting to raise awareness for HIV-positive people in the community. Trujillo also confirmed that last year, the group behind the AIDS Walk provided 100,000 meals to people living with HIV, and 3,500 free HIV test kits.
Local organizers will know soon whether or not there will be an AIDS Walk 2017, but chances are that because they have not meet the 2016 financial goals, the annual fundraiser will most likely end. That means thousands of people will lose a major resource for HIV awareness and prevention in the Rocky Mountain region.