One of the most powerful books I ever read was How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS. Years later, what's stuck with me the most was how young so many of the activists were. Even at 32, I question whether I could have found the strength to fight in the face of such devastating loss and rampant homophobia.
Although the worst of the AIDS crisis is behind us, the battle’s far from over. 1.1 million Americans live with HIV. Among black gay and bisexual men in the American South, the virus remains a public health crisis. In West Virginia and Indiana, opioid addicts have seen HIV epidemics. As at the height of the AIDS crisis, HIV + people in Indiana watched bigots and religious zealots stymie efforts to protect their health – then Governor Mike Pence only reluctantly threw his support behind needle exchanges after the outbreak in his state reached emergency levels. And in February 2019, the Center for Disease Control announced that progress in HIV prevention had stalled in recent years. It estimated that the decline in infections plateaued because effective HIV prevention and treatment were not adequately reaching those who could most benefit from them.
I'm riding 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles because I like a challenge, and I love my road bike (duh!). But I'm also doing it because I want to play my part in the struggle that started in 1981. Will you help me and pitch in?