Participants will be running and walking tomorrow at Leadbetter Beach toward a brighter future for AIDS awareness and treatment in Santa Barbara.

The 12th annual Santa Barbara Heart and Sole AIDS Walk and Run is hosted by the AIDS Project Central Coast, an agency under the Pacific Pride Foundation. The APCC is the county’s primary provider of HIV/AIDS care and HIV prevention education. The 10K walk and run will include food, live music, free massages and awards. All the proceeds go toward HIV/AIDS care and prevention programs in Santa Barbara County.

According to the APCC, 50 percent of new HIV infections occur in people under the age of 25, and 42 percent of women with HIV in Santa Barbara County were infected via heterosexual contact. For the year 2001, there were an estimated 2,100 HIV-positive Santa Barbarans

The APCC focuses on providing care for people living with AIDS. This includes case management by registered nurses, counseling, housing, groceries, hot meals and legal assistance. They also assist in early intervention, education, prevention and nutrition.

Expensive new drug therapies are helping people with AIDS to live longer. However, this also means those people rely on the foundation longer. The foundation must provide specialized care to all its patients. Some people cannot tolerate the medicines due to extreme side effects, while others do not even have access to the drugs. According to the APCC, the long-term effectiveness of many new drug therapies is still unknown.

The APCC makes special accommodations for people living with AIDS who also suffer from mental illness, substance addictions, low-income status or marginalized housing. All services are completely confidential and bilingual services are also available.

In 2000, the Heart and Sole AIDS Walk and Run raised $107,000 toward AIDS education, treatment and prevention. The APCC was formed in 1984 and has offices in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria.

The walk will begin at Leadbetter Beach with registration at 9 a.m. and the walk beginning at 10:30 a.m.