AIDS Walk Not Likely to Draw D.C. Mayor, Activists Say

Many still praise mayor's AIDS policies

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCWashington

    The District's annual AIDS Walk began promptly at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Thousands participated in the walk, which was sponsored in part by NBC4, Giant and SunTrust Bank.

    The one person who was expected to not be there was D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. Which really annoys local AIDS activists. Even though he did show up.

    "D.C. has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the nation, and it's important for residents of this city to hear directly from the mayor and not lower-level appointees," Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, a gay-community newspaper, told The Washington Post. "And that's very much the perception and the frustration."

    Not to mention that D.C.'s HIV infection rate is higher than most sub-Saharan African nations and that the District has the highest rate of new AIDS cases per 100,000 people in the United States -- a rate that is 12 times the national average.

    According to the Post, many activists have nothing but praise for Fenty's AIDS policies, his appointment of competent AIDS director and funding of much-needed rograms, such as a needle exchange to help drug addicts avoid getting infected by dirty needles. 

    But when it comes to talking at or even showing up for various AIDS-related events in the District, many have been left wondering, "Where in the world is Fenty?"

    He even missed the opening of an AIDS clinic in Northwest DC, one that Hollywood actor Blair Underwood and members of Congress went to. Even if he didn't care for the members of Congress, one might think the mayor might be drawn in by the star power of Blair (or even the actor's hottie factor, in a bromance-kind of way). 

    NEWS4’s Doreen Gentzler, among other local celebs, were at the walk, which began at DC's Freedom Plaza and included more than 6,700 participants.

    But, as we said, Mayor Fenty did show. He even gave a little pep talk. And it was still not enough for some activists.