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Why the Manhattan skyline will glow red Thursday night

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NEW YORK – Look up to the Manhattan skyline Thursday night and you’ll see red.

Many of the city’s landmarks will glow crimson through the weekend in an effort to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS in the lead up to Sunday’s AIDS Walk in Central Park.

These buildings, and potentially more, will be flipping the switch and changing color: GMHC, The Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, The Plaza Hotel, 4 Times Square, 9 Times Square, 7 World Trade Center, New York Stock Exchange, 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, Hyatt Hotel Times Square, 1675 Broadway, The Helmsley Building, Pastai, EOLO, Church of Saint Francis Xavier, Church of Saint Paul the Apostle, Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, and Viacom, according to Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which is leading the effort.

It’s all part of a move to raise awareness about the potentially fatal illness. Thousands will walk the 6.2-mile loop starting and ending in Central Park Sunday rallying around those living with HIV/AIDS and their families, and in favor of a cure. Registration is still open; click here for more information by clicking here.

More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV infection with nearly 1 in 8 Americans having no idea they have the illness, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly 659,000 people in the U.S. with an AIDS diagnosis have died, the agency said.

Worldwide the disease has contributed to 1.5 million deaths in 2014 alone and about 35 million people were living in HIV as of 2013, according to the most recent data available from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last year, New York City leaders set an ambitious goal of wiping out AIDS in the five boroughs within the next sick years. Success was defined as when the total number of new HIV infections falls below the number of HIV-related deaths.

A statewide task force was recently created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to eradicate the debilitating illness the Empire State by connecting people with HIV to healthcare, getting patients on anti-HIV therapy, and providing high-risk New Yorkers with access to daily medication that prevents HIV infection.

An infection that breaks down the body’s ability to fend off infections and other diseases, HIV is spread through:

  • unprotected sex with an infection person;
  • transfusions of contaminated blood;
  • sharing of contaminated needles or syringes;
  • and from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

AIDS refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infections, according to WHO.

Key ways to prevent HIV transmission, according to WHO, include:

  • practicing safer sex, such as using condoms;
  • getting tested and treated regularly for sexually transmitted infections;
  • avoid injecting drugs or, if you do, use new and disposable needles and syringes;
  • ensure that any blood or blood products you might need are first tested for HIV.