Actress Hilary Duff has signed on to participate in the biggest AIDS fundraiser of the year, Sunday's Gay Men's Health Crisis' AIDS Walk in New York City's Central Park.

The walk helps fund the nation's oldest AIDS service organization. Founded 28 years ago, GMHC has evolved to provide a myriad of support services for people living with AIDS, including housing and employment services.

“People came to GMHC essentially to die and our work was to help them die with dignity. Today, primarily because of medications people are living,” GMHC CEO Dr. Marjoire Hill told New York's CBS affiliate, CBS 2. “There is still no cure, there is no vaccine.”

Duff will serve as co-host of the AIDS Walk opening ceremony, and she will walk with her “Hilary Duff – Walk with Love” team.

The actress is also part of the pre-walk campaign. She has already taped an AIDS Walk PSA running in New York and will throw the switch to illuminate the Empire State Building red, the color synonymous with AIDS awareness, at Thursday's AIDS Walk launch in Manhattan.

“The epidemic has been around for some 27 some odd years and statistics are showing us that the attention that people are paying to AIDS is falling from about 34% awareness five years ago to, I think a shocking number, of 14% today,” GMHC Director of Special Events Kenneth Cox told Charlotte Robinson in an exclusive interview at

“We have a responsibility to educate young people about HIV/AIDS,” said Duff. “So when I hear about how more young people are getting HIV because they don't understand the risks of infection, it just seems so tragic and avoidable.”

AIDS Walk New York has grown to become the largest AIDS fundraising event in the world, drawing more than 45,000 participants in 2008.

On the Net: Listen to Kenneth Cox's entire audio interview at Learn more about the walk at