The NO/AIDS Task Force partnered with corporate sponsor Chevron this past weekend to present the 25th annual NO/AIDS Walk through Audubon Park. Thousands turned out to support the organization’s mission of providing hope, care and comfort to members of our community who have been affected by HIV and AIDS.

Many of the day’s participants walked in memory of a friend, companion or family member who had succumbed to the disease, but everyone I met walked for the hope of a cure to an illness that a very treatable disease.

NO/AIDS Task Force CEO Noel Twilbeck Jr. reminded me that 50,000 to 60,000 new HIV cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, so events like the NoAids Walk are important to supplement financial resources and work as a community outreach initiative to keep the disease in the public’s eye.

“The sigma often associated with a diagnosis of HIV and AIDS remains an obstacle to quality care and treatment even today,” explained Twilbeck. His goal and the goal of the organization he directs is to break through the barriers that sometimes prevent patients from receiving proper care.

“A positive diagnosis is no longer the death sentence that it used to be. Today, this is an extremely manageable disease, especially if patients seek treatment early.”

Corporate consciousness that translates into financial support for organizations like the NO/AIDS Task Force helps to ensure a global impact in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Chevron’s vice president for the Gulf of Mexico unit Mike Illanne said, “San Francisco-based Chevron has been involved in fighting this disease for the past 25 years. Combatting the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS is also an integral component of our corporate campaign.”

Besides Chevron, Avita Pharmacy and Shell served as presenting sponsors this year for the NO/AIDS Walk through Audubon Park.

Events such as the NO/AIDS Walk provide valuable financial resources that enhance the care of those in need. NO/AIDS Task Force’s recent collaboration with CrescentCare in Mid-City allows access to quality healthcare for those at or below the poverty line. The new facility, located at 3308 Tulane Ave., operates as full service health clinic and is open to children and adults, regardless of ability to pay. The collaboration expands the Task Force’s ability to reach even more HIV and AIDS patients.

Over 3,000 people signed up for this year’s NO/AIDS Walk, with organizers projecting that $200,000 would be raised. While treatment has vastly improved the quality of life for patients over the past 25 years, a cure for this disease is a primary objective while prevention remains the key.

To learn more about the NO/AIDS Task Force in New Orleans, visit www.noaidstaskforce.org.

La Vie de Ville captures city life New Orleans style every Thursday in The New Orleans Advocate’s Crescent City news section. For coverage of your community event in Vie, submit request with details in advance to robertagrove@hotmail.com.