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Man Rows 5,000 Miles Across Atlantic Ocean To Raise Awareness For HIV, AIDS Research

By Greg Argos

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., (CBS) –  A man's 5,000 mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean is almost complete, and what a story he has to tell.

Victor Mooney set sail in February 2014, making stops in Las Palmas off the coast of West Africa, and then up the East Coast, including Atlantic City today, stopping at the Golden Nugget.

"I left the shores of West Africa and made my way across the Atlantic," said Victor Mooney.

And for Queens native Victor Mooney it has not been an easy 5,000 mile journey.

"This has been my home for 15 months," said Mooney.

He hatched the idea more than a decade ago as a way to raise awareness for HIV and AIDS research.

"I've lost a brother to the disease. I have another one who is battling disease," he said.

This is his fourth attempt.

In 2011 his 24-foot rowboat took on water.

"I sustained 14 days in the inner tube in the middle of the Atlantic."

His boat even attacked by a shark.

"The shark put a hole in the boat, he was hungry."

And this attempt wasn't easy either. In fact, Victor says when he was in Haiti, pirates surrounded his boat, attached their vessel to his and then brought him ashore.

"When I was approaching the shore, I was prepared to die. I remember walking with rosaries on my hand."

He activated an emergency beacon.

"The Coast Guard officials came with their planes. And then I uh, broke down and I started crying."

On top of that, Victor only had a satellite phone and a GPS locator, but very little entertainment.

(Reporter)  "What New York Times best seller did you carry on your boat?"

"I carried the Bible. And I read it from beginning to the end, and it was a good read."

And even less food.

"After the first two weeks, I knew that my food supply would expire, and I began eating every other day," he said. "There was a tanker who came up to me, he identified himself.  And he said, 'Do you need a rescue?' and I said, 'Do you have a hamburger?'"

His mission delayed as he recovered in a St. Martin hospital.

"It equated to an 80 pound weight loss."

Now just about 100 miles from his final destination, the Brooklyn Bridge.

"Soon I'll be home in my bed," he said.

He says his journey and struggle is nothing compared to what those battling HIV and AIDS experience each and every day.

"I survived and you can survive too," he said.

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