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Equatorial Guinea supports AIDS awareness

CRAIG D. FRAZIER Special to the AmNews | 1/31/2013, 4:29 p.m.

Last week, Equatorial Guinea opened the Fourth Ordinary Session of Ministers of Health of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo encouraged other governments to continue to fight against AIDS, appealing to the solidarity and support of the international community. The head of state, who has championed the fight against AIDS through preventive education, condom distribution and financing of antiretroviral medicine for afflicted populations, also called for a shared responsibility globally in fighting the disease.

"With the spirit that characterizes the people of Equatorial Guinea, we join the effort with initiatives such as the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in Life Sciences, which encourages the international scientific community to seek remedies for diseases that threaten the welfare of human existence, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria," the president said at his recent state of address.

Victor Mooney, AIDS activist and creator of the Goree Challenge, knows just how benevolent the African government can be after receiving a $30,000 donation that enabled Mooney to purchase a 24-foot custom-made ocean rowboat. When the vessel arrives in New York, Kingsborough Community College and SUNY Maritime College will prepare the boat for its trans-Atlantic journey and assist with Mooney's nautical training. The advocate will attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean later this year to encourage voluntary HIV testing, increased access to antiretroviral medicine for those who need it and prevention measures to bring about an AIDS-free generation.

His campaign, "Goree Challenge I," started in May 2006 from Goree Island, Senegal, to Bahia, Brazil, the Caribbean and New York. His second trip in 2009 started in Senegal and ended in the Caribbean. "Goree Challenge III" (February 2011) started in So Vicente.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 20 percent are unaware they are infected. There are 41,000 new HIV infections diagnosed each year in the U.S., and 14 percent of these infections occur in 13- to 25-year-olds.