Many AIDS-Related Events Go Virtual for 2020
In light of many states’s ongoing “shelter-in-place” order in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the organizers of many AIDS-related events scheduled for the next few months have opted to morph into “virtual” fundraisers and conferences. Organizations in California, an early leader when it came to staying home and staying safe, moved many of its events indoors and online.
For instance, Radiant Health Centers has decided to host the 2020 AIDS Walk Orange County as a two-month long “virtual” fundraising walk, beginning April 1, 2020. “The importance of meeting the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS is critical,” their website states. “We invite you to join us as we virtually come together in the fight to end the HIV epidemic and support Radiant Health Centers staff who continue to meet the needs of our vulnerable clients during these challenging times.” Participants can register for the virtual walk at www.classy.org/event/aids-walk-orange-county-2020/e274186. In order to build a community of virtual walkers, participants are urged to share photos and videos of themselves walking, riding, hiking or running from the comfort of home or neighborhood, using the hashtag #AIDSWALKOC. Radiant Health Centers will then share the photos on their social media.
AIDSWatch 2020, the constituent-based national HIV advocacy event organized by AIDS United, the Treatment Access Expansion Project and the U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus, has already met virtually on March 30, 2020. From all reports, the event was quite successful despite being the first virtual educational and lobbying event.
The annual 545-mile AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, in support of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, has likewise been confined to the virtual world. Participants may still raise money by signing up for “My 545,” which organizers describe as “a choose your own adventure challenge supporting your fundraising efforts for AIDS/LifeCycle.” Participants can commit to logging 545 miles, minutes, or any other measurable activity and complete that challenge by May 30. Suggested activities include 545 minutes of indoor cycling, volunteering, or meditating; 545 laps of your neighborhood; or 545 pushups. For more information, log on to www.aidslifecycle.org/my545.
Following the most recent recommendations from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, in addition to Governor Newsom’s shelter-in-place order, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, sponsors of Dining Out For Life San Francisco, changed into an online fundraising event——Dining IN for Life. Instead of asking participants to visit and dine at one of the dozens of participating restaurants, SFAF invite you to support your favorite restaurant by ordering delivery and purchasing merchandise or gift cards to use at a later date. Dates for Dining IN for Life were April 20-21, 2020. And they are still accepting donations. For more information, visit https://www.sfaf.org/event/dining-out-for-life-2020/.
Perhaps most significantly, AIDS2020, the 23rd International AIDS Conference, scheduled for July 6-10, 2020, in San Francisco and Oakland, will become “AIDS2020: Virtual.” Larkin Callaghan, Director of Strategic Research Communications and Partnerships at the UCSF AIDS Research Institute, emailed potential participants with the news of the change. “While this decision is undoubtedly disappointing for so many of us,” she wrote, “we remain committed to ensuring it is a landmark global gathering — one of the first to attempt such extensive international virtual participation.” As they grapple with the logistics of a virtual conference for tens of thousands of participants, Ms. Callaghan continued, “We are cautiously optimistic that some local activities and events will still be able to happen, both scientific gatherings as well as those related to community, our equity pledge, and arts and culture.” Information on the conference and how to register can be found at www.aids2020.org.
While these changes are undoubtedly disappointing to many who planned to attend these events, concerns about contracting or spreading the Coronavirus dictate that we eschew large gatherings. These changes are especially important for those of us with immune systems compromised by HIV/AIDS.
—Reporting by Hank Trout
Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his husband Rick. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.