I am once again preparing for the AIDS LifeCycle. As you may know, I have participated in the event 8 times in the last 10 years. Together the many people who have clicked the "DONATE" button on my page have provided over $50,000 to support the work of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. This is a tremendous accomplishment, due entirely to the generosity of friends and family - I am deeply humble and greatly appreciative.
In 2008, the year before I first rode, there were 521 new HIV diagnoses in San Francisco; in 2018 the number had fallen to 197. At the end of 2018, 74 percent - almost three quarters, of people living with HIV in San Francisco had their viral load suppressed. This means that not only is the virus stopped with respect to causing disease to these people, they also cannot transmit the virus. Although not a cure because people who stop treatment have seen the virus resurge, and not without significant side effects for many people, it is a huge step in ending the epidemic.
But the above good news comes with a down-side. Fully 25% of people infected with HIV living in San Francisco do not have their HIV viral load suppressed. And nearly half of people living with HIV in the United States - 46% according to a report by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Health Foundation - are also not yet receiving the support they need to reach viral suppression. There remain about 1.1 million people in the US who are infected with HIV - that means nearly half a million people have not yet received the lifesaving (and epidemic ending) anti-retroviral drugs. And the CDC estimates that there were 38,700 new infection in 2017 - the latest figure I could locate.
There are many reasons for the ongoing infection rates and for people not receiving treatment. Many of the issues are complex and tied up with social and cultural issues. Sex, intravenous drug use, mental illness, homelessness, gender politics, access to health care - and discrimination or stigma around all these issues, and more - impact HIV prevention and treatment. But the summation is that we have more to do and that means more fundraising to support vital services and more public relations events such as the AIDS LifeCycle to raise awareness around the epidemic and to fight stigma associated with a virus. People infected with HIV receive health care to assure that they can lead long and productive lives and many people receive vital information about how to protenct themselves. I hope you will donate (or continue to donate if you have been doing so) generously to help San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the many Agencies and nonprofit organization in the US end this epidemic.
With love and respect,
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