Thirty thousand New Yorkers convened in Central Park Sunday as part of the 29th Annual AIDS Walk New York. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
The 10-kilometer walk was marked by celebrity appearances, musical performances and even a group selfie, but through the antics, the message was clear: it's time to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
"I think it's a great thing for people to fundraise, be able to find a cure for AIDS," said one person who participated in the walk.
"This is my first time being here, and to support the people that are affected and infected by this disease," said another.
The walk raised more than $5 million in the name of AIDS research and prevention, with the money going to the Gay Men's Health Crisis and more than 40 other AIDS organizations throughout the tri-state area.
A baseball-cap clad Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke to participants, thanking them for their dedication to the cause.
"We're now in the fourth decade of the fight against HIV and AIDS. We're in the fourth decade. And sometimes, when a struggle goes on so long, people lose their sense of urgency. Sometimes, people drift away," de Blasio said. "But you haven't let that happen."
One participant, a nurse, said she's made the fight against AIDS a focal point of her career.
"To help work towards treatment and prevention of HIV. I've been doing that my whole nursing career, and it's very important," she said. "We've come a long way, but we have so much further to go, and this is why we're here today."
One marcher, who's been HIV-positive since she was 19, said she took park to share a message of inspiration.
"Love doesn't kill, I say, but AIDS can kill," she said. "I'm just here to support everybody, to let everybody know that you can live a long, long life with the virus like I have."
The city and state are doing their part to make sure low-income HIV and AIDS patients can focus on their health. Lawmakers are capping the amount that permanently disabled residents who receive rental assistance can pay for their apartments at 30 percent of their income.