Updated 05/20/2012 05:21 PM
AIDS Walk Raises Awareness, Support For HIV/AIDS Services
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More than 45,000 New Yorkers took part Sunday in the 27th annual AIDS Walk New York, which looped more than six miles through Central Park and the Upper West Side.
AIDS Walk New York, the largest HIV/AIDS fundraising event of its kind in the world, has raised more than $122 million since 1986.
"There are some organizations that no longer give to HIV and AIDS. So the money raised at AIDS Walk help us reach those really critical populations," said Dr. Marjorie Hill, the CEO of GMHC (Gay Men's Health Crisis).
David Martin, a client of the organization GMHC, said it is important to be vocal for people infected and affected by HIV.
"For those who are infected, it's good to know that you have a support system around you," said Martin. "For those who are allies and supportive, it's good to let people know that they do have that unconditional love and support to comfort them."
An aspiring 28-year-old model when he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, Martin said GMHC helped him find doctors and legal services.
"I didn't feel alone. I felt that there was support. I felt like there was someone to turn to, basically hold my hand through the situation," said Martin.
Hill said back in 2010, 1,700 New York City residents and 16,000 Americans died of AIDS. People participating in the walk said those numbers are far too high.
"We're living in an age where AIDS should have been a thing of the past. It should have been wiped away by this time," said a participant.
"We have to destigmatize it. We have to start being vocal, we have to put it on the forefront," said singer Keri Hilson.
The event helps more than 40 local organizations that provide food, housing and medical care to people living with the disease.
For more information, visit aidswalk.net/newyork.