You may remember that last year, IFD accompanied the riders and roadies of the AIDS/LifeCycle and collected some of their stories. I’m happy to say that we were asked back again this year and jumped at the opportunity. If you’re not familiar with ALC, it’s the world’s largest annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser in which riders bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles–545 miles–over the course of 6 days. We will be posting one story every day next week.
LOS ANGELES/SAN FRANCISCO—May 16, 2012—More than 2,200 bicyclists and 600 volunteer “roadies” will make a 545-mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles on June 3-9, 2012. Ranging in age from 18 to 80+, the participants of AIDS/LifeCycle hail from 44 states and 16 countries. The diverse community of participants—LGBT and straight, HIV-positive and HIV-negative—is united by a common cause: ending HIV/AIDS. Since its inception, AIDS/LifeCycle has raised more than $86 million to support the HIV/AIDS-related services of San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. This year, AIDS/LifeCycle 11 is expected to raise more than $11 million for these vital, and often life-saving, services.
AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, 545-mile bike ride—not a race—that raises awareness about the continued HIV/AIDS epidemic, in addition to funding services such as HIV testing, medical care, counseling, HIV prevention services and much more.
“Although we’ve seen great strides in the fight against HIV—and recent medical advances show great promise for turning the tide—today the epidemic rages on, more than three decades after it began,” says Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. “There are 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, with gay and bisexual men disproportionately affected. In California alone, as many as 7,000 people become infected each year. That’s why AIDS/LifeCycle is so important; the services it supports are critical, both to serve those living with HIV and to stop the spread of this disease.”
Each AIDS/LifeCycle rider commits to raising at least $3,000, but most go beyond that commitment. Last year’s riders raised an average of more than $5,000 each.
“Thirty years after San Francisco AIDS Foundation first began offering services to our community, we remain as committed as ever to seeing an end to AIDS,” says Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano. “AIDS/LifeCycle is vital to our work, both at the foundation and at the Center, to reduce new HIV infections and ensure everyone has access to proper care. Because of the commitment, dedication, and remarkable fundraising of all the riders and roadies, our organizations are strong and reliable for the thousands of people we serve each year through our array of free programs.”
Despite the remarkable progress that has been made since the epidemic began in 1981, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is far from over. The infection rate is actually rising among gay and bisexual men—the only group for which this is the case—with communities of color especially hard hit. According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five gay and bisexual men in 21 major U.S. cities is HIV-positive.