Dozens Walk 'n' Roll in downtown Las Vegas for AIDS awareness

More than 150 people gathered in downtown Las Vegas on Saturday morning for the second annual Walk ’n’ Roll to raise awareness and money for HIV/AIDS organizations.

Walk ’n’ Roll is both a charity walk and a bicycle event benefiting multiple organizations: ActionRED, Community Outreach Medical Center, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada and the Sin City Sisters of Perpetual lndulgence.

This year’s theme is Getting to Zero, as in zero new HIV transmissions, and each organization contributes different services toward that goal, ActionRED founder Lane Olson said.

The gay and lesbian center offers safe-sex education and free HIV testing in conjunction with the Southern Nevada Health District. Community Outreach Medical Center provides low-cost healthcare for patients in need. The Sin City Sisters run an AIDS drug assistance program, and ActionRED is a resource for community support and drug adherence coaching for residents with HIV/AIDS.

Olson said that with proper treatment, people with HIV will reduce their viral load and substantially decrease the likeli­hood of passing the virus on to anyone else.

Other sponsors of the event included Walgreens and All In One Pharmacy.

Walk ’n’ Roll also gave other groups the chance to form a team and keep a share of the money they raised for their own organizations. The health district had staff doing on-site HIV testing.

The event drew a mixed crowd including men and women, both gay and straight, as well as children and pets.

“Communities are getting tighter-knit and expanding,” said Edgar Gonzalez of All In One Pharmacy. “It’s a great time to be in Las Vegas.”

Volunteers such as Christy Hodges and Ashley McKinley have various reasons for getting involved. McKinley said she sees HIV/AIDS as a human issue, rather than an LGBT issue.

“I believe in the cause,” Hodges said. “I have teenagers and I want to set a good example.”

Walk ’n’ Roll also partnered with Vegas StrEATS to have multiple food trucks for participants, there was entertainment at stops along the walking and riding routes. Jeff Civillico emceed the festivities and entertained crowds with his juggling and unicycle tricks.

Contact reporter Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0264.