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(EDGE) As New York City prepares for AIDS Walk New York on Sunday, May 15, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) will "Light Up New York" from May 12-15. Beginning May 12, many of New York City's landmarks will light up red, marked by a special ceremony at the Empire State Building held that day, to raise awareness for HIV and AIDS and build momentum toward the AIDS Walk on Sunday, May 15 in Central Park.

"In a challenging election year, which has included hateful rhetoric from some candidates directed to the very people GMHC serves, we are proud to see so many New York institutions joining us in support of all people living with HIV/AIDS," said Kelsey Louie, Chief Executive Officer of GMHC.

Broadway legend Chita Rivera will host the Lighting Ceremony to launch "Light Up New York" at the Empire State Building on Thursday, May 12 at 2 p.m. Rivera will be joined by GMHC Chief Executive Officer Kelsey Louie and AIDS Walk New York supporters at Thursday's Lighting Ceremony.

In response to a devastating disease whose victims were mounting at a frightening pace (to-date AIDS has killed over 658,000 people in the United States alone), men and women came together in 1986 for the first ever AIDS Walk New York. "Light Up New York" will help raise critical awareness about HIV and AIDS, as well as for the event on Sunday, May 15.

Participating "Light Up New York" partners include: GMHC, The Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, The Plaza Hotel, 4 Times Square, 9 Times Square, 7 World Trade Center, Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, Bloomingdale's, CBS Blackrock Headquarters, CBS Broadcast Center, JFK International Airport Tower, JPMorgan Chase, Macy's Herald Square, NYonAir, One World Trade Center, 1675 Broadway, The Helmsley Building, Pastai, EOLO, Church of Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Paul the Apostle, and Viacom, with many more expected to come on board.
Light Up New York has become a fixture to the Empire State Building's lighting tradition, which has over the years turned its spire red to observe important occasions related to HIV/AIDS awareness, including AIDS Walk New York. Secretary of GMHC's Board of Directors Osvaldo Perdomo headed up the initiative a few years back and remains involved today.

"With the help of our lighting partners, GMHC is continuing to raise HIV and AIDS awareness, end stigma and declare that AIDS is not over," said Perdomo. "We are deeply grateful for their participation."

Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the nation's leading provider of HIV and AIDS care, prevention services and advocacy, serving nearly 9,000 people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in New York City, the epidemic's largest U.S. epicenter. As the world's first HIV and AIDS service organization, GMHC is an expert in providing services that every person affected by the epidemic deserves. GMHC is on the front lines caring for people who are both HIV negative and positive, including: testing, nutrition, legal, mental health and education services.

GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal level with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020. Most recently, GMHC and other HIV and AIDS organizations successfully persuaded the federal government to recommend widespread use of PrEP, a new daily treatment that is over 90 percent effective in preventing HIV infection.

Since 1986, AIDS Walk New York has raised more than $144 million for HIV programs and services in the tri-state area, and has grown into the largest AIDS fundraising event in the world. In 2015 alone, 30,000 participants, many of whom were members of more than 2,600 corporate and community teams, raised nearly $5 million for GMHC and 40 other tri-state area AIDS service organizations.

Organizations interested in joining the "Light Up New York" initiative should call the AIDS Walk New York office at 212-807-9255 (WALK). Everyone is invited to participate by lighting their homes red or wearing red during May 12-15.

"Light Up New York" will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 12 at the Empire State Building Lobby, 350 Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th.

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