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Organizers fight to hold Detroit AIDS Walk in the Motor City

Former site in Royal Oak is under construction
Posted at 6:34 PM, Jul 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-15 18:34:08-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Detroit AIDS Walk is usually held in Royal Oak at the Farmer's Market, however construction has forced organizers to look for an alternative.

The walk, set to be held in September, is now in jeopardy for the second year in a row.

According to HELP, one of the groups organizing the walk, the total cost to put the event on in Royal Oak is around $64,000.

The cost to host the event in Detroit they said, is around $50,000 more.

A Detroit city spokesperson said police personnel alone would cost $20,000 due to the proposed route in Cork Town, where several road closures would be required.

“Up until Tuesday we did not have have a location for the walk," said Keshaum Houston a social worker at the Horizons Project, one of the groups working to make the walk happen.

Houston is hoping Wayne State, which offered up its campus for the walk, will offer a cost effective alternative.

It's important for the walk's organizers that the event take place in the city of Detroit, widely affected by HIV and AIDS.

“My mom when I was 7-years-old of AIDS," said Detroit native Latresa Rice. "I can remember not being allowed to go to the funeral."

That was in 1987. Rice still remembers the stigma.

“You got the stares. Or you had some teacher that didn’t want to touch your test paper."

Rice feels the walk helps to educate people, and correct a lot of misconceptions about HIV and AIDS.

The rate of AIDS is far lower than it used to be, but HIV, the disease that leads to AIDS, is still very much alive in Detroit.

“I think a lot of times people think because they don’t see it or we’re not talking about it anymore, that this disease has been eradicated and that’s not the case," said Houston.

Elizabeth Secord, Medical Director for Horizons Project, said they're seeing 4 to 5 news cases of HIV in youths every month.

"So we’re having 50 to 60 new cases yearly," she said.

Recent data from the state shows that more than 11,000 people in the metro Detroit area are living with HIV. 40 percent of them, are in the city of Detroit.

According to the state, Detroit’s infection rate is nearly 4x higher than Ingham and Saginaw counties.

Wayne State is on venue currently on the table for Detroit AIDS Walk organizers. An exact route and a set date in September have not yet been decided.