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Along with budget cuts and fiscal belt-tightening, government assistance to HIV/AIDS nonprofits has been axed across the country. Due to this cash crisis, AIDS Project Los Angeles executive director Craig Thompson says raising money at this year's 26th Annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles is more important than ever.
So he's concerned about the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation's plans to put on an AIDS Walk of its own -- just three weeks before APLA's annual event.
The first California AIDS Walk will be held September 26 in Los Angeles's Griffith Park. This new event will feature a music festival at the Greek Theatre with "a short walk through the park," according to organizer Dana Miller, and the short walk is one of the reasons APLA is asking AHF to change the name and move the event to a different date.
"Our primary concern is confusion," Thompson told The Advocate. "We think it's admirable that they're doing a food and dance festival and trying to raise private money to support their programs and services. But their event doesn't really look like a walk -- the walk appears to be an add-on. It appears to be more of a festival, but then they have chosen to give it a name that's similar to AIDS Walk Los Angeles, and they've chosen to do all of that and market it at a time that falls three weeks before our event."
Miller says he's wanted to put a "different spin" on the traditional AIDS Walk for years and that the two events are "apples and oranges." He says there will also be walks in various other regions of California, "hence the name California AIDS Walk."
On June 30, APLA filed a trademark infringement suit against AHF for scheduling a "fundraising event just weeks before plaintiff's annual AIDS Walk using a similar name for the event."
"If they were doing this in April and calling it AIDS Fest, we'd be more than supportive," Thompson said. "They never made any contact with us, and they never discussed this with us. So the first thing we ever saw or heard was when started getting reports from clients and donors and our own staff seeing marketing materials for this event."
Thompson says APLA is open to having a discussion about "how we could peacefully coexist around having two events," but that it would need be part of a discussion on how to "alleviate some of the confusion that has already been created."
Miller says he doesn't think APLA has anything to worry about -- there's more than enough room for both events.
"No matter what, AIDS Walk Los Angeles will get 30,000 people and raise $3 million," he said.