Mooney plans to row solo later this year to bring attention to the high rate of HIV in black community
NEW YORK An AIDS activist plans to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean later this year to draw attention to the high rate of HIV in the U.S. black community.
Victor Mooney’s first attempt two years ago ended less than two hours after he started from the coast of Senegal when he boat leaked. But he says he is better prepared now and determined to succeed.
“It’s important that I continue this quest, because this disease is preventable,” he said Wednesday, Feb. 7, also National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. He has lost a brother to AIDS, and another brother has HIV.
Mooney, 41, wants to be the first black person to row solo across the Atlantic. He plans to follow the trans-Atlantic slave trade route that brought blacks to the Americas from Africa and to connect the plight of AIDS in the two continents.
His route from Goree Island, Senegal once a prison and auction site for slaves bound for the Americas to the Caribbean will begin Dec. 1, World AIDS Day.
“You’re rowing 16 to 18 hours a day two hours at a time, with a half-hour break,” he said. “Depending on weather conditions, you can anchor and sleep, while going with the current if it’s favorable.”
His new boat will be professionally built and equipped with a satellite telephone, emergency beacons and a tracking service.
Solo rows across the Atlantic Ocean are notoriously perilous, with fewer than 50 people having completed the journey, according to the England-based Ocean Rowing Society.
“Sometimes you don’t make it on the first attempt, but you keep trying,” Mooney said.
More than half of newly diagnosed infections of HIV in the U.S. have been documented in the black community, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Forty-seven percent of the approximately one million people in the U.S. who suffer from HIV are black, according to 2005 CDC statistics.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 9, 2007