AIDS Activist in New Bid to Row the Atlantic

by Medindia Content Team on Oct 15 2007 6:28 PM

A New York anti-AIDS campaigner said on Sunday he plans to make a second attempt to row across the Atlantic starting on World AIDS Day on December 1 to raise global awareness about the killer disease.

"I have so far collected close to 10,000 dollars in America" of the 100,000 dollars needed for the 12,900-kilometre (8,000-mile) voyage from Senegal's Goree Island to New York, Victor Mooney, 42, said in the United Arab Emirates.

His first attempt to complete the feat in May 2006 failed when his hand-made boat sank.

Mooney, executive director of New York-based non-profit organisation South African Arts International, told AFP one of his brothers died of AIDS and that another has the HIV virus.

His trip, which is expected to take between six and eight months, is meant to "raise awareness of AIDS and support the UN Millennium Goals to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015," Mooney said.

"I'm hoping that the royal family of Abu Dhabi will help out in this project," he added.

The ocean-going vessel in which Mooney will make his new attempt to row the Atlantic will be named "Spirit of Zayed" after the late ruler of oil-rich Abu Dhabi and UAE founding president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan.

The choice was made because of Zayed's "humble nature and humanity, not only with his countrymen but with people all over the world," Mooney said.

Mooney, a devout Roman Catholic, said he had fasted during the just-ended Muslim holy month of Ramadan "in solidarity with Arabs and Muslims worldwide."

On Sunday Muslims continued to celebrate the festival of Eid al-Fitr that follows Ramadan when they fast from dawn to dusk.

Mooney was flying back to New York on Sunday after his second visit to the UAE in as many months to raise money for his venture.

If he succeeds in rowing from Goree Island to New York, his boat will then be airlifted to Djibouti from where he plans to row to the UAE.

Mooney, who has set up a website at to publicise his campaign, said he will buy the 24-foot (7.3-metre) boat in England. Logistics for the journey will be handled by the US State Department, he added.

At the end of 2005, around 40 million people lived with AIDS or HIV, nearly two-thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa, according to UN figures.

Two million people died of AIDS in 2006.