AUSTIN -- Thousands of people gathered Sunday to be a part of the 26th annual AIDS Walk Austin, an event that plays a vital role in preventing the spread of HIV and helps provide the necessary care for those already living with HIV and AIDS.
Paul Scott, the executive director for AIDS Services of Austin, has been living with HIV for 26 years.
"It's really important for people to understand that this disease still affects us, not only because people like me are long-term survivors, but also because people are still being infected with HIV," Scott said.
According to Marianne Deleon, also with AIDS Services of Austin, the infection rate in the city is rising.
"There was a 21 percent increase between 2011 and 2012 of new HIV infections in our community," Deleon said.
The event raises money for organizations like AIDS Services of Austin that provide services for more than 1,600 people in the area already living with HIV and AIDS.
"The funds that are provided by the public, by our federal tax dollars are diminishing year after year, and people like you and me and our community have to make up the difference," Deleon said.
Thanks to the thousands who cheered and walked their way through the Capitol, there are hundreds more who can get help.
"So far, we've raised about $220,000 of our $225,000 goal," Deleon said.