Up to 25,000 people participated in the San Francisco AIDS Foundation AIDS Walk in Golden Gate Park on Sunday, raising $3.5 million to combat the disease, a foundation spokeswoman said today.

Although the fundraiser, now in its 23rd year, fell short of last year’s $4.4 million raised, San Francisco AIDS Foundation spokeswoman Debra Holtz said a drop was to be expected given the struggling economy.

“Every fundraising event is seeing a fairly large reduction. I don’t think that’s surprising,” Holtz said. “What we’re really about happy is that so many people participated despite the recession.”

The fundraiser has raised more than $74 million for the foundation and other Bay Area HIV and AIDS service organizations since 1987.

Proceeds will go toward HIV testing, substance abuse counseling, syringe-exchange programs, and public policy work, Holtz said.

Notable participants included state Attorney General Jerry Brown, state Sen. Mark Leno, AIDS Foundation CEO Mark Cloutier, ABC-7 news anchor Dan Ashley and other radio and television personalities.

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