35 Years of Activism and Community with AIDS Walk SF

While AIDS Walk San Francisco is a 5-kilometer walk, it does not end at the finish line. 

Since 1987, AWSF has fostered lifelong bonds and life-saving support for people impacted by HIV/AIDS. Barb Howard is one of the individuals who embody the strong, resilient community we strive to create through Team Memorial

Barb’s 35 Years of Activism

When Barb first volunteered with AWSF in 1989, HIV stigma was rampant around her. “What do you have in common with them?” people would ask when they learned that Barb, someone who didn’t know anyone impacted by HIV, was spending time fighting AIDS.

As Barb continued to reach out for sponsors, she discovered that people in her life were living with HIV in fear of that stigma. “A woman and her husband got it from a blood transfusion,” Barb recalls, “the cousin of another friend had it too.” 

At an early AWSF, Barb met a young man named Ronnie at the volunteer table. “We both grew up in Fremont and were only a year or so apart in age,” Barb explains. At following walks, Barb noticed Ronnie begin to weaken. “Two and a half years later he was gone,” Barb remembers. “You’d go back every year and someone new was missing.”

35 years later, Barb continues to volunteer at AWSF to fight against the stigma that still plagues those living with HIV/AIDS. She volunteers to support the research and care for those like Ronnie who are taken too soon.

Barb’s 35 Years of Community

In the following years, Barb’s fight against AIDS stretched beyond volunteering at AWSF.

Barb began working with the NAMES Project, now the AIDS Memorial Quilt, to ensure that the stories of those touched by HIV/AIDS will not be forgotten.

Barb traveled with the Quilt to work at a display on the National Mall. All the way in Washington, D.C., Barb recognized faces from AIDS Walk San Francisco. She walked along the hundreds of AIDS Quilt panels with her friend Joanie Juster, catching up and talking about what was needed to prevent the need for memorials like the ones they stopped to look at.

What started for Barb at AWSF has grown into a lifelong mission with a community that continues to fight today.

How you can join the fight against AIDS

“It’s not over,” Barb reminds others about the AIDS crisis. With hundreds of thousands of Americans still impacted by HIV, prompt action is needed. 

Join Team Memorial on Sunday, July 21st at AIDS Walk San Francisco to take action. Donate and sign up as an in-person or remote walker today: https://sf.aidswalk.net/NationalAIDSMemorial 

40 years of stories

We share the important story of AIDS --

the fear, stigma and discrimination. We share the stories of hope, courage, compassion, and love.  And, we bring to light the harsh reality that four decades later, there is no cure and the rates of infection are on the rise, particularly in communities of color.

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Our work helps ensure that the lives of people who died from AIDS are not forgotten and the story of AIDS is known by future generations -
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