From June 2 to June 8, 2019, I will be back on my bike and riding in AIDS/LifeCycle. It's a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to make a world of difference in the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS. The funds I raise will enable the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation help those impacted by HIV get the treatment and care they need, and provide targeted prevention efforts for high risk populations.
The best way to keep this disease from continuing to spread is through education about prevention and getting those infected on life saving treatment so they do not continue to spread the disease. Research shows that there is a 99.9% chance the disease will not be transmitted if the infected person is on medication to control the disease and prolong life. In September 2017, The CDC joined the consensus on HIV that ‘Undetectable = Untransmittable’
This year will be my 8th ALC and 7th time riding with nearly 2,500 other cyclist from all over the world on an amazing 7 day journey down the Pacific coast. Every year I can remember so much leading up to the ride, but no amount of preparation is enough for what I actually experience on an emotional and spiritual level. I began my journey with AIDS/LifeCycle 8 years ago solely with the ambition of being a part of something that was far greater than just me and I’m glad I do it every year! The ride itself is empowering! Peddle by peddle. Morning after morning, like clock-work the ride happens. There is no turning back! As each day passes on the ride, I began to embrace that I am part of a community that is so strongly united for one purpose and one cause. We are from all walks of life, countless different professions, 18 different countries and aging from 18-85 years old. Each person that I meet along the way, both before and during the ride, has their own stories which share common themes and passions. Some personal stories that I heard from people I met along the ride these past 7 years I keep close to my heart and think about often. It’s those stories and challenges of loved ones and friends in their lives that inspire me to get on my bike and ride for 7 days, 545 miles, rain or shine. Every year at closing ceremonies I watch person after person pack their stuff in their cars to go back to their everyday life. I can’t help but think to myself and remember how many people we impacted during that week and now through our stories and pictures that we share with our friends we get to spread the joy of AIDS/LifeCycle until next year when we come back to make the journey all over again.
Every year, before and during the ride I end up meeting so many people whose lives have been changed forever because of the treatment and services they get from one of the beneficiaries from AIDS/LifeCycle. Today more than ever, people still rely on these services and if it weren't for this ride and all the many sponsors from countless people's lives, life would be very different.
Today, almost 38 years, later nearly 35 million men, women, and children worldwide have died of AIDS, making it one of the most destructive diseases in recorded history. An estimated 36.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS today, 49% of these are women, 34.5 million of them are adults and 2.1 million are children under the age of 15. AIDS impacts people of all races, age, gender and sexual orientations.
As of July 2017, of the 36.7 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS only 20.9 million of them are getting the life-saving treatment that they need which is up from 18.2 million in June 2016 and from 15.8 million in June 2015 and from 7.5 million in 2010, and less than one million in 2000. These are amazing numbers in comparison and each year the numbers are getting better but the work is far from over.
When you support AIDS/LifeCycle, you support the many national and global efforts of San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center to improve health and well-being of people who are living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS and to prevent new HIV infections.
The Center’s renowned Clinical Research Program conducts research studies and clinical trials that contribute to scientific knowledge regarding the prevention, intervention, and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The research staff is a vital community partners with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, UCLA, USC, UCSF and other institutions.
Aligned with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Center’s research focuses on intervening at every stage of HIV infection. Current projects include:
- New Drug Research – For 17 years, the Center has been investigating the safety and effectiveness of new medicine to address drug resistance, reduce side effects, and simplify drug regimens. The Center’s research has contributed to the FDA approval of two new multi-class, once-a-day anti-retroviral medications.
- Biomedical Device Studies – The Center recently completed a trial of a rapid HIV test – a cost-effective, easily administered finger-stick test that can help identify ‘acute’ HIV infections (early infections that have a higher chance of transmission). This test is now used widely in sub-Saharan Africa and other underdeveloped areas of the world.
- Behavioral Research – The Center is part of a large-scale study of how Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) could reduce HIV transmission to a level where AIDS is no longer considered an epidemic. It is also studying how substance abuse contributes to HIV infection among gay/bi African American and Latino men, who have the highest rates of HIV infection in the U.S.
- Multi-site AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) - First funded by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease in 1983, MACS is the largest and longest-running study of the natural history of HIV/AIDS. The MACS has accumulated vast amounts of crucial data that have contributed immeasurably to the study and understanding of the virus, its treatment, and prevention.
- Academic - The Center is a vital community partner for academic, research-intensive institutions such as UCLA, USC, and RAND. Recent collaborations have focused on substance use in minority MSM communities, and innovative use of technology, such as retention and adherence to HIV/AIDS treatment through the use of mobile devices.
It doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s life. In my eyes, all my sponsors are heroes. The amount you donate doesn’t matter! Whatever you find in your heart to donate will make a difference. Every single dollar helps save lives, and is greatly appreciated, and every tax-deductible donation can easily be made on line using the link below. Thank you in advance for your support! I appreciate you for who you are and all that you do.
AIDS/LifeCycle is celebrating 26 years of commitment and dedication to ending the fight against HIV/AIDS. Help me support AIDS/LifeCycle by giving what you can. We'll keep riding until AIDS is a thing of the past.
Together we can and will make a difference!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart,
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” – Douglas Adams