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Keys book tells of struggle to survive HIV/AIDS

BY CAMMY CLARK, cclark@MiamiHerald.com

KEY WEST -- The names of more than 1,000 people are carved onto the AIDS Memorial at the White Street Pier. Steve Torrence, chaplain of the Key West Police Department, knew or comforted about 800 of them before they died. ``At the height of the pandemic, we'd sometimes have as many as four deaths in one week,'' recalled Torrence, who is gay.

The diagnosis of being HIV-positive is no longer the death sentence it was in the 1980s and early '90s. But the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is still devastating. And it still kills.

That's the message Cyna Wright, HIV/AIDS program coordinator for the Monroe County Health Department, is hoping to convey in a book launched Tuesday night, on the eve of World AIDS Day.

Stronger: HIV Prevention in America's Southernmost City tells the stories of 16 Key West community members who are on the front lines. Some are battling the disease themselves. Some are trying to educate others about prevention. Some are doing both.

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