Event marks 22 years of hope

Murphy said he was a nurse practitioner at Rikers Island, New York City's main jail, in 1980, before he had gone to medical school, which were a few years before the article published about homosexual men in San Francisco acquiring a tumor that was newly seen. This actually was about the first discovery of the disease, but doctors had no name nor knew anything about it.

"In my seven years as a medical student and a family practice resident in the South Bronx, I literally did see families whipped out one after another," said Murphy. "I remember being in the hospital having to give blood on little babies who would die on the next day or the next week. We had nothing to stop it at the time."

He said the day should be a celebration of how far medical testing for the disease has become. A new oral test from the state also seemed to prove affective in raising awareness.

"We ran out of our tests in three days in our first shipment of the state," said Murphy. "If there are going to be 13 people indentified I want to identify them tomorrow and not when they get sick and wind up in the hospital and I see them in a year form now very sick. I don't know that I can get rid of the HIV virus, but I really do think I can get rid of AIDS and that is a big plus."

Daniel Butterworth, program director for The Damien Center, said the event helps guests get the chance to express their feeling of living with HIV/AIDS publicly in a safe space.

"Since HIV and AIDS has kind of fallen off the radar as far as the media goes, because it is not quite as much of a crisis as it used to be with medications and care being what they are today, but public awareness is still a necessity," said Butterworth. "Medical care may have changed, but the perceptions about the disease really hasn't."

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