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AIDS LifeCycle: 2,350 riders complete 545-mile trek to from San Francisco to LA and raise $13 million-plus

My apologies for being a few days late on this. I really want to celebrate and shine a spotlight on the 2,350 bicyclists and 600 volunteer “roadies” who participated in the AIDS/LifeCycle and raised a record $13 million-plus for the HIV/AIDS services of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

The seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles began on June 5th, the exact 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS. Riders came from nearly every state and 11 countries.

The closing ceremonies took place on Saturday and I’m sharing a few of the terrific photos that journalist Karen Ocamb has posted on her LGBT POV blog. Karen was one of the embedded reporters who went along on the journey and her perspective is something you must read. [The two smaller photos below are by Stephen Busken, one of the other embedded reporters]

Karen writes: In 1994, before the advent of life-saving AIDS medications, LA Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri Jean and her team came up with a signature event to raise money for critically needed HIV/AIDS services.

Jean said of this year’s event: “I’m enormously proud that AIDS/LifeCycle has set a new fundraising record of more than $13 million. Even though the economy is still stagnant, the riders and roadies of the ride rallied like never before, both to support vital HIV/AIDS-related services and to raise awareness about this continued epidemic. Three decades after our nation’s fight against AIDS began, we are still fighting to vanquish this horrible disease—and everyone in the wonderful AIDS/LifeCycle community shares a commitment to make a difference in that fight.”

Emmy winner Jane Lynch was among the speakers during the closing ceremony and here is video of her remarks courtesy of another embedded journalist, Nick Vivion, of the site Unicornbooty which I have just discovered and suddenly cannot live without!

Celebrity trainers Cara Castronuova (The Biggest Loser) and Scott Herman (The Real World: Brooklyn) joined the AIDS/LifeCycle community this year, sharing their messages of healthy living and spreading the word that HIV/AIDS still needs our urgent attention as we enter the fourth decade of fighting the disease.

Thirty years ago this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its first report about the disease then known as Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID) and later known as AIDS. The report detailed the case studies of five gay men in Los Angeles; by the time it was published, two of the five men had died. Since the earliest days of the epidemic, both the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the Foundation have taken a leadership role in fighting HIV/AIDS. Today, both organizations remain at the forefront of efforts to reduce new HIV infections and ensure access to proper medical care for everyone who needs it.

“AIDS/LifeCycle 10, with its historic participation and fundraising, is a powerful reminder that our community still cares deeply about ending HIV/AIDS,” says San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano. “This week we saw acts of heroism, both big and small, from our thousands of riders and volunteers ‘roadies’. Thirty years into HIV/AIDS, we are more confident that ever that we will be able to break the back of the epidemic in our lifetime.”

Today, 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV—the highest number in the history of this decades-long crisis. More than 1 in 10 of those live in California. And 1 in 5 of those living with HIV don’t know it. Gay and black communities are especially hard hit. New HIV infections among gay and bisexual men in the United States are on the rise—the only risk group for whom this is the case—and a 2010 CDC study found that a shocking 20% of gay and bisexual men in 21 U.S. cities are HIV-positive.

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