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25,000 Take Part In 30th Annual AIDS Walk In West Hollywood

WEST HOLLYWOOD (  —  Officials said nearly 25,000 took part in Sunday's AIDS Walk, the 30th annual event.

The 10K walk raised about $2.26 million for 20 AIDS-related service organizations, notably AIDS Project Los Angeles.

"The awe-inspiring community of AIDS Walk Los Angeles participants has once again proven its ceaseless dedication to helping people living with HIV and AIDS," said Craig R. Miller, the walk's founder and senior organizer.

AIDS Walk Los Angeles was the world's first fundraising walk to benefit organizations dealing with AIDS. Since its inception in 1985, the walk has raised nearly $80 million, according to Ben Fordham, the walk's director of communications.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called walkers gathered in West Hollywood Park before the start of the walk "a sea of angels in the City of Angels."

The Mayor also took time to make personal reflections about AIDS and HIV.

"I come here every year for my cousin Jimmy Hester, a proud out Latino who was one of the first taken in the AIDS crisis. I come here because of the friends who are living, celebrating and who are walking today because life and love surrounds us in this City of Angels," Garcetti said.

Miller said the Affordable Care Act has allowed AIDS Project Los Angeles to enroll "many, many of its clients" in health insurance for the first time.

"We have the opportunity to get our HIV prevention clients -- mostly HIV-negative gay men who've never had access to health care before -- get them in health care, provide them with medical screenings, HIV testing, STD screening and treatment, HIV prevention interventions," said Miller.

"We really have an opportunity to change the curve of the epidemic," Miller added, "African-Americans are disproportionally impacted by the epidemic. The number one reason why is they don't have access to consistent health care. Now we can get them that access."

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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