First off, thanks to everyone who clicked through to my page in support of this effort to fight AIDS.
A little about me…. I was born in France to Muslim parents. When I first came to France I experienced a lot of racism from those who feared and held suspicious my Arab/Muslim background. From the way I looked to my strange accent to my assumed beliefs and attitudes due to the Muslim community from where I originated. Later on as an exchange student in 1996 my host family essentially forced me to move out and find a new host (who were great) because the original host family no doubt held bigoted views about my background.
While living with the second host family I became close friends with their daughter, Alison, who was the same age as me at the time (19). A year later, Alison, came out of the closet. Fortunately, her family and friends were very supportive and Alison went on to marry another lovely women and the couple welcomed their first child just last October (congrats Ali!).
Unfortunately for a lot of LGBTQ community members, shame, solace and discrimination are more the norm (discrimination is something I can certainly relate to). Particularly among those infected by AIDS/HIV, an affliction that, to this day, impacts the LGBTQ community at a much higher rate than non-LGBTQ individuals. In fact, 81% of young people diagnosed with HIV are gay and bisexual.
Despite all the medical advances that science has made fighting the disease, HIV/AIDS is still a massive problem around the world, particularly for the LGBTQ community. In addition, the stigma of HIV/AIDS still renders fear, embarrassment and shame among those afflicted by this cruel and all-too deadly disease.
For that reason I’m joining my good friend and Olympic Silver Medalist, Gus Kenworthy, on bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, California to raise awareness and money to help combat HIV/AIDS and bring attention, love and support to those fighting its insidious effects.
My goal is to raise US $5,000 for the cause so that I can make this historic ride happen and continue to fight to crush the STIGMA, and instead for a CURE, for HIV/AIDS.
Thank you in advance for your support.
Here's a little more info about how your money will directly help the cause:
In the US alone there are over a million people living with an HIV+ status and many still contracting the disease without even knowing it. One way we can help is through educating people on safe sex practices and encouraging people to get tested regularly and knowing their status!
A $25 DONATION provides a Rapid HIV Antibody test at Magnet (a free community clinic located in the heart of San Francisco's Castro's district)! Tragically over 75% of the HIV+ people in the US are living at or below the poverty line making access to life-saving medication near impossible.
A $125 DONATION can provide all the resources for one patient visit to Magnet. Another constant struggle for those affected is the horrible stigma that surrounds the disease and that we as a society perpetuate. Let's spread facts, not fear!
A $500 DONATION will provide medical benefit counseling for 15 people which will allow them to obtain prescription drug assistance.
A $625 DONATION can provide a safe and stable housing situation for one HIV+ person for an entire month thanks to a partnership between the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
A $1,000 DONATION can put on two Stop AIDS Community Education Forums to help educate the masses about HIV/AIDS.
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