Calgary HIV/AIDS walk raises $75,000 for Alberta programs; combats stigma
Calgarians and Alberta minister Stephanie McLean share personal stories
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Karl Klink was a fashionable man who pursued his dream of becoming a stylist.
“He did quite well,” said Klink’s sister, Jennifer, during the Scotiabank AIDS Walk Sunday afternoon.
Karl, Jennifer said, died from AIDS in 1992 at the age of 36, after he was infected with HIV during the ‘80s, a time when little was known about HIV/AIDS, which predominantly affected gay men at the time.
Afraid of what his parents would think, Karl slipped his ‘coming-out’ letter under their doorway while they were sleeping, heading to Toronto that night to live his life.
Jennifer said she first learned Karl had AIDS when he told their dad he had pneumonia.
“I knew pneumonia was one of those things that was AIDS related, so I asked my dad if he had it,” Jennifer recalled. “He said yes and cried.
“It was the first time I saw my dad cry.”
Jennifer has since dedicated her life to AIDS awareness and fundraising, in an effort to highlight the syndrome is as severe as it was in the ‘80s.
Even with PeREP, a medicine for people at high-risk of getting HIV/AIDS, and advancements, Jennifer said people continue to lose their lives.
“I feel like people aren’t recognizing the risk as much as they did when it was considered a crisis,” she said. “But this is still happening and we need to continue educating people about this because it hasn’t been cured.”
Service Alberta and Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean, who spoke at the fundraising event, said her mom was diagnosed with HIV.
McLean said rates of HIV/AIDS continue to increase.
“We need to do a better job,” McLean said. “We need to combat fatigue of the message and we need to renew it.
“We need to combat the stigma.”
There were more than 200 people at event Sunday afternoon and, as of that time, more than $75,000 was fundraised, close to organizers’ $100,000 fundraising goal.
All proceeds will help provide programs for the growing number of Albertans with HIV.