HIV/AIDS does not discriminate against age, gender, orientation and has never been isolated to a particular city, state or country. For almost sixty years, this pandemic has affected so many -- entire communities of people, families, lovers, colleagues, neighbors and friends.
You know at least one of those people because I am one of them. I am living with HIV.
In February 2000, I was diagnosed as HIV+, with a substantially high viral load and a weakening immune system. With access to insurance and programs, I was fortunate to have my medical treatment and medication covered and in turn, I was able to lower my viral load and being to manage my HIV. By doing this, I have been HIV undetectable for almost as long as I have been HIV+.
I recognize that it was access to care that provided me with the services that I desperately needed at the time of my diagnosis and in the years following. It is that same access to care that is currently being threatened with potential cuts to federal and state funding or greatly reduced budgets that impact those who rely on these services to live.
This is Why I Ride.
By participating in the 2019 AIDS/LifeCycle ride, I am committing myself to 7-days and 545-miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles on my bike, along narrow roads, busy highways and through gusty winds, heat and cold. I ride for those that can't make this journey and I ride to raise awareness and funds to put an end to this pandemic.
All monies raised through my efforts benefit the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center; California's premier HIV/AIDS research and services agencies. These funds are vital to continuing the necessary research that is needed to get us to zero new infections, as well as providing life-saving counseling, education and testing services, and access to medication.
Most importantly, these funds help provide access to care to other individuals like me, whether newly diagnosed or living with HIV long term.
Your Bearded Lady,
Please consider donating to my husband and teammates by visiting: www.tofighthiv.org/goto/TheBeardedLadiesCA