San Francisco-to-Los Angeles bike ride is world's largest annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser
More than 2,400 participants in AIDS/LifeCycle arrived at the Veterans Center in Los Angeles today after traveling 545 miles from San Francisco over the past seven days in the world's largest annual HIV/AIDS fundraising event. In its ninth year, the event raised $10 million to support the services of San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center that prevent new HIV infections and care for those living with HIV/AIDS.
The cycling event was such as success that a record number of participants—1,200—have already signed up for next year's AIDS/LifeCycle, which will mark the 10th anniversary of the event and 30 years since the first cases of AIDS were discovered.
"The participants on this ride and their generous donors have inspired us all to fight harder than ever in our quest to end AIDS," said Barbara Kimport, interim CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation and one of the cyclists. "Their extraordinary efforts have spread awareness that HIV and AIDS continues to affect so many lives. Together, we will bring an end to this disease through bold public policy work and innovative programs that stop the spread of HIV."
The 1,925 cyclists and 500 volunteer "roadies," ranging in age form 18 to 82 and hailing from nearly every state and eight countries, were united in a commitment to end HIV and caring for those living with the virus. Cyclists raised an average of $5,000 each this year. Since its inception in 2002, AIDS/LifeCycle has raised $70 million to support HIV/AIDS services. In the seven days it took to ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, more than 1,000 people in the United States and 50,000 people around the world were infected with HIV.
"I want to thank the riders and roadies for their remarkable passion and unfailing dedication," Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said at the AIDS/LifeCycle closing ceremony. "Because of you, thousands of people with HIV and AIDS will be able to come to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation and get the medical care and other help they desperately need. Because of all that you have done, literally thousands of lives will be saved."
AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, 545-mile bike ride—not a race—that supports the HIV/AIDS services provided by the Center and the Foundation. It also raises awareness that HIV/AIDS is a growing scourge that continues to have a devastating impact on our communities, especially in California. More than 1 in 10 of the nation's HIV-positive people live in California, and California ranks second among the states in cumulative AIDS cases.
There are 1.1 million Americans living with HIV—the highest number in the history of the epidemic. Gay and bisexual men bear the brunt of the disease, representing 76 percent of all HIV cases in California and 53 percent nationally. Communities of color are also disproportionately affected; although African Americans comprise 6 percent of the state's population, they account for 19 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS. Teens and young adults between the ages of 13 and 29 account for more than one-third of all new infections in the United States, the largest share of any age group.