CHI Hosts World AIDS Day Walk in Cutler Bay

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Hundreds laced up their sneakers to kick-off CHI’s Annual World AIDS Day Walk

Leo Martinez was diagnosed with HIV at the early age of 24. In his first decade of living with the disease, he experienced intense shame and heartache. “Coming out as HIV positive and gay, together, was a challenge, a huge challenge,” he said. “I won’t lie, I lost family members, I lost friends.”  

Remarkably, Martinez remained confident that his diagnosis would be one of his biggest blessings and he would quickly realize why. He eventually made the conscious decision to transform his shame, reframe every negative aspect of life, and put a positive spin on it. Martinez detailed his road to living a normal life with HIV at Community Health of South Florida,  Inc.’s World AIDS Day Walk at JL and Enid W. Demps Park on December 2nd.

Emceed by TK Owens, a seasoned non-profit professional and Miami native, the walk was organized to raise awareness for HIV and AIDS and to spread the message that HIV is preventable and treatable. Hundreds participated in the one-mile walk in Cutler Bay and enjoyed music with their family and friends.  

Attendees had the opportunity to learn about testing and treatment. Many were moved by the dozens of red kites flown above to commemorate those who have lost their lives to the disease.    

In a speech to the audience, Dr. Edwin Bosa Osorio, a physician at CHI, reflected on the virus’s devasting impact on healthcare and the country four decades ago.  

Leo Martinez, who was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 24, gave a heartfelt speech to the audience

“Back in the day, having HIV was a death sentence. We have all heard that story because there was no treatment,” he said. “Slowly but surely, we started getting new things like testing. We can now say that HIV is no longer a death sentence!”  

Martinez is proof that life continues after a diagnosis. At this stage in his life, he credits his ability to thrive with HIV, to a growth mindset.

“The mistakes I made were teaching me discernment and building resilience,” he said. “Now, I can push myself to achieve greater things. The situations that did not work out led me to my calling!”

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