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Event marks 22 years of hope

At the end of the ceremony people did write a message to those whom they know are affected by the disease, or just a message of support for individuals or care providers that assist in the cause and fight.

Becki Fordman shared some information about HIV/AIDS she gathered from statistics. As of 2008 there were 378 people known to be living with HIV/AIDS in Schenectady County. On the average according to previous data there are 13 new cases of the disease in a year in the county. According to the most recent available data there is a cumulative amount of AIDS cases in the state at 180,674, out of which 35,787 of those cases are in upstate New York.

"In 2009 the case of new infections has declined by almost 20 percent compared to 1999, but still it outpaces treatment to success by 2 to 1," said Zirbel. "That's we as a community understand the significance of the medical care providers that are with us tonight that are with us every day in the caring."

Mary Kinley, HIV project coordinator at Ellis Health Center, talked about the federal government's first formal national strategy on HIV/AIDS, which was released this past summer.

"This is the first time the federal government has really put out a paper like this and it really has a lot of historical significance," said Kinley.

The report said the "public urgency" to combat the epidemic seems to be declining, she said. While rates of new cases have been dropping there are 56,000 new cases each year. Some primary goals of the federal strategy are to reduce the number of people infected who become infected with HIV, to increase access to care and optimize health outcomes for people living with the disease.

"When this day started a number of years ago it was a silent vigil, it was just a remembrance, but it can't be that any longer at all," said Dr. Chris Murphy. "We've really come a very long way and that is part of my message to just be as positive as possible."

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