AIDS walk raises disease awareness - Metro US

AIDS walk raises disease awareness

People are often shocked to learn Jeff Keller has HIV.

The 41-year-old lawyer is in his second decade living with the disease and says he’s the evolved face of HIV people often don’t know they’re looking at.

“I don’t look sick. People have this image of a scrawny, diseased person, laying in their deathbed,” he said. “That’s not the case any more. We get to live for 15 years and be healthy.”

The 18th Annual AIDS Walk For Life marched from Churchill Square yesterday and drew a crowd bigger than ever before.

Hype of the deadly disorder peaked in the ’90s, organizers say, though the number of infections in the area are holding steady. Among 3,500 infected Albertans, between 1,500 and 2,000 live in Edmonton, 234 of which were diagnosed last year. Though, through treatment, those affected are living longer than ever before, HIV Edmonton executive director Debra Jakubec said.

Organizers hope to have raised $170,000 from the event, and updated the public perception of HIV.

“We should be able to prevent this disease, not keep it at a steady rate,” Jakubec said.

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