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AIDS Walk Atlanta and 5k Run is a Personal Mission for this Local Couple | Events

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AIDS Walk Atlanta and 5k Run is a Personal Mission for this Local Couple
Events, Health

Atlanta, GA--  Last year, Robby Astrove and his wife, Danielle Arellano, stole the hearts of everyone involved at October’s AIDS Walk Atlanta and 5K Run. As the co-spokespeople for the event, their story of love and understanding as a “serodiscordant” couple – meaning one has HIV and the other does not, had a message of hope for those living with the disease.

Robby’s story began when he was born in Miami in 1978. He immediately needed three life-saving blood transfusions – transfusions that unknowingly gave him both HIV and Hepatitis C. At age 15, he sustained an injury and shortly after contracted a staph infection that he mysteriously couldn’t get rid of. Doctors wanted to test him for HIV just to rule it out, and shockingly, at the age of 16, Robby tested positive for the disease. But that never stopped him from doing all the things he wanted to do, including having a relationship with Danielle.

Robby and Danielle met in late 2000, through mutual friends before their last college semester. When school began the following January, they were instant companions. Since then, they’ve moved forward into a healthy and loving marriage. Being chosen as spokespeople for last year’s Walk meant a lot to them, especially Robby who celebrated his 30th year living with the virus.

“Personally, it was wonderful to have all our loved ones together and united at the Walk last year” Robby said. “It was also great to see 10,000 Atlantans proclaiming that, “Every life deserves hope,” in this city.”

Since last year’s Walk the couple is still doing well—cooking, hiking with their dog, Luca, and traveling every chance they get. Robby continues to be an environmental educator to the Atlanta community and serves on several boards, including a task force with Atlanta Public Schools. Danielle works in the environmental public health field on a project regarding wastewater reuse.

They will again serve as spokespeople for this year’s event, along with three others, at the 20th annual AIDS Walk Atlanta and 5K Run on Sun., Oct. 17, in Piedmont Park.

“We’re doing this again because we’ve seen firsthand how powerful and inspiring personal stories reach people and cause behavior change,” Robby said. “People told me that they were so inspired by our story that they got themselves tested. I’m glad to help people end their silence and get proactive.”

Getting through to young people remains a challenge, Robby says, even after 20 years of awareness. “Vaccine rumors and the availability of life-saving medications make it seem like it’s not a big deal,” he said. “Young people and minorities remain most at risk.” Robby and Danielle believe that it’s important to work with the younger generations regarding the disease. That’s why Robby has befriended an 11-year-old boy that is HIV positive.

It started after the boy’s mother saw Robby and Danielle on WSB-TV’s People 2 People in 2009. She made some calls and asked if Robby would talk to her son. Since then they’ve been spending time together periodically; doing things like going to the park and having family dinners.

“It’s been a very rewarding experience and it’s cool because we talk about anything he wants to,” Robby said.  “He’s a great kid and I’m glad that I can be a friend and show him that he can have any future that he wants to.”

For more information or to register for this year’s Walk, visit www.aidswalkatlanta.com or call (404) 876-9255 (WALK).

Events, Health