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Activists Gather In Times Square For World AIDS Day

They Want New York State To Lead Way In Ending Pandemic
Chinese residents hold balloons as they take part in an AIDS awareness program to mark the World AIDS Day in southwest China's municipality of Chongqing on December 1, 2011. (Photo credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese residents hold balloons as they take part in an AIDS awareness program to mark the World AIDS Day in southwest China’s municipality of Chongqing on December 1, 2011. (Photo credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A throng of activists rallied in Times Square Sunday to commemorate the 25th World AIDS Day.

The AIDS advocacy group Housing Works and an anticipated crowd of nearly 1,000 from the city’s HIV/AIDS community gathered for the event, with a message that it is time to end the AIDS epidemic in New York state.

Activists said New York state has borne the highest burden of the HIV/AIDS crisis since the virus was first identified in 1981. The state has also been at the center of activist, community, government and scientific advocacy and research for ending the pandemic.

“New York State has the people, institutions, resources and political will to end our AIDS epidemic and to become a leader nationally and globally in showing how to end AIDS,” Housing Works said.

As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported Saturday, activist Mathew Rodriguez of ACT UP New York said there is specifically a need for “diverting more resources and more funds to get more people on treatment, because getting HIV-positive people on treatment helps stop the transmission of the virus.

Rodriguez said even though there has been some progress made in treating people with the virus, there is still work to be done when it comes to stigma.

“We ask often that people don’t’ say, ‘people who are suffering from this disease,’” he said. “We often say ask you say, like, ‘People living with HIV.’”

The AIDS activist group Housing Works said about 160,000 New Yorkers live with HIV, but 30,000 of them don’t even know it.

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