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A Cardinal Blessing in Brazil

"There was a special aurora around this holy man", said Mooney.

At Catedral de Sao Paulo on Sunday, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, blessed AIDS activist Victor Mooney of Queens, New York for his fourth bid to row across the Atlantic Ocean later this year for an AIDS-free generation. Mr. Mooney arrived in Brazil on Saturday and is overseeing the logistics for shipping his new custom made row boat christened "the Spirit of Malabo" to New York.

"There was a special aura around this holy man", said Mooney.

Mr. Mooney also took time to distribute rosaries collected from dioceses in the United States for parishioners. In 2004, Pope John Paul II blessed Mr. Mooney at the Vatican for his mission. The AIDS activist has lost one brother to AIDS and has another battling the disease.

About 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 20 percent of them are unaware they are infected. There are 53,000 new HIV infections diagnosed each year in the U.S., and 14 percent of these infections occur in 13 to 25 year-olds.

Today, an estimated 34 million people worldwide live with HIV/AIDS, with more than two-thirds living in developing countries. Nearly three-fourths of the 2.5 million new HIV infections in 2011 occurred in these countries.

Goree Challenge IV – Spirit of Malabo is a project of the New York City based South African Arts International (SAAI). This project received a generous donation from H.E., President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. SAAI has also received an unprecedented amount of in-kind and moral support from over seventy corporations, an array of governments and global health institutions.

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea (República de Guinea Ecuatorial) is the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa, and one of the smallest nations on the continent. In the late-1990s, American companies helped discover the country's oil and natural gas resources, which only within the last five years began contributing to the global energy supply. H.E., President Obiang has championed the fight against AIDS through preventive education, condom distribution and financing of antiretroviral medicine for afflicted populations. The Head of State also called for a shared responsibility in fighting the disease.

On the net: www.goreechallenge.com

More Stories By Lisa Samuels

Lisa Samuels is a public relations officer at the MWG, which is based in New York City.

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