New Yorkers take to the streets for annual Aids walkathon

May 17th, 2009 - 9:25 pm ICT by John Le Fevre  

Hillary Duff More than 45,000 people are expected to gather in New York’s Central Park today for the 24th annual AIDS Walk New York (AWNY) awareness and fund raising day for Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and fifty other Aids service organizations in the New York tri-state area

The 6.2-mile (9.97km) walk gets underway at 10am and is billed as the largest Aids fund-raising event in the world.

More than a million Americans are living with HIV, and New York City has one of the highest rates of AIDS cases in the nation.

Since it was first held in 1986 AWNY has raised more than $100 million for HIV programs and services in the tri-state area.

The Duane Reade Charitable Foundation doubled its support for this years event, donating $100,000, and also announced that commencing in June of this year it will provide free, confidential, on-the-spot, HIV testing at a number of locations throughout the New York metropolitan area.

Singer and AIDS awareness campaigner Hillary Duff kicked the annual walkathon off by flipping a switch on the Empire State Building earlier in the week sending a bright red light beaming from the building to reinforce the message that Aids is still a still a matter of great urgency in New York and throughout the United States.

Last year more than 45,000 people attended the event raising a record of more than $US7 million.

New York has a population of more than eight million people and according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there are more residents living with HIV or Aids - 100,000 -than in any other city in the United States.

Aids has become the third leading cause of death for New Yorkers under the age of 65 and more than 1,000 New Yorkers each year find out they are HIV-positive

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