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AIDS/LifeCycle 8 to Raise $10.5 Million to Fight AIDS
Date:5/31/2009

2,150 cyclists to start San Francisco-to-Los Angeles ride May 31

SAN FRANCISCO and LOS ANGELES, May 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 2,150 bicyclists from 41 states and 14 nations will stream out of San Francisco on May 31 en route to Los Angeles as participants in the colorful and emotional AIDS/LifeCycle, the world's largest annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser.

The 545-mile trek is expected to raise $10.5 million to support vital HIV/AIDS-related services at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The event also raises awareness about the disease, particularly significant this year following a recent survey* revealing a dramatic drop in the sense of urgency about HIV/AIDS and persistent misconceptions about HIV transmission and treatment among Americans.

Participants on the weeklong ride include cyclists and a volunteer support crew of hundreds of "roadies" who range in age from 18 to 78. Whether gay or straight, HIV-positive or HIV-negative, expert cyclists or novices, they share a commitment to reducing new infections and the suffering caused by AIDS.

"People come to AIDS/LifeCycle to fight a disease," said Mark Cloutier, CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and one of the cyclists. "But the event is also a celebration of health. Participants have the physical strength to complete a challenging course, and the emotional connectedness to help others succeed on an exhausting, yet exhilarating journey."

Riders train for months to prepare for the rigorous ride, and raise a minimum of $3,000 each to support the work of the two sponsoring organizations. The event has raised approximately $50 million to fight AIDS since it began in 2002.

"The economic recession has deeply impacted HIV/AIDS service providers on all fronts. Charitable giving and government funding of HIV/AIDS support services are dropping while the number of people who need free or low-cost services is going up," said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. "Our participants and their supporters recognize the urgent need for HIV prevention. I'm proud of the AIDS/LifeCycle community, and I'm deeply grateful."

This year's ride is the first since federal health officials reported that new HIV infections are much higher than previously thought.** During the seven days of AIDS/LifeCycle, an estimated 1,080 Americans will become infected with HIV. There are 1.1 million Americans living with HIV--the highest number in the history of the epidemic--1 in 6 of whom are Californians. Gay and bisexual men bear the brunt of the disease, representing 73 percent of all HIV/AIDS 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 nearly 19 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS.

AIDS/LifeCycle's presenting sponsors are Shopoff Properties Trust, FedEx Corporation, and Gilead Sciences.

* In April 2009, the Kaiser Family Foundation released survey findings that showed that only 6 percent of Americans call HIV/AIDS the most urgent health problem facing the nation, down from 44 percent in 1995; see: http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/posr042809nr.cfm

** In July 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study that the annual HIV infection rate in the U.S. is 40 percent higher than previously estimated. See: http://cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/factsheets/incidence.htm

FACTS AND VISUALS:

  • As they make their way through eight California counties, the cyclists collectively consume 420 gallons of coffee, 6,200 pounds of vegetables and 5,400 Pop Tarts. But they likely end up somewhat lighter, according to event organizers, because a 170-pound cyclist burns an average of 3,410 calories a day during AIDS/LifeCycle.

  • Each day of the ride, 500 roadies set up and break down tents, kitchens, and mobile bathroom and shower facilities. They provide riders with directional signage, first aid and bicycle repair services. They serve snacks to weary riders at rest stops and ensure a steady stream of entertainment by flamboyantly costumed performers. And they drive "sag wagons" that scoop up riders whose energy runs out before the road does.

  • Many riders stop at hills to cheer on other cyclists. They're often joined by locals, who turn out at many points along the route to applaud, offer refreshments, and hold signs bearing the names of loved ones lost to AIDS.

DETAILS OF THE RIDE:

The route of the ride and the location of overnight campsites are as follows:

  • Sunday, May 31: Opening Ceremony at the Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva Ave., Daly City. Ride 79.4 miles to Santa Cruz and camp at Harvey West Park, 326 Evergreen Street.

  • Monday, June 1: Ride 107.6 miles to King City and camp at San Lorenzo County Park, 1160 Broadway.

  • Tuesday, June 2: Ride 63.4 miles to Paso Robles and camp at the Mid-State Fairgrounds, 2198 Riverside Avenue.

  • Wednesday, June 3: Ride 94.1 miles to Santa Maria and camp at Preisker Park, 2301 Preisker Lane.

  • Thursday, June 4: Ride 67.7 miles to Lompoc and camp at River Park, Sweeney Road & Highway 246.

  • Friday, June 5: Ride 85.5 miles to Ventura and camp at San Buenaventura State Beach, 901 San Pedro Street.

  • Saturday, June 6: Ride 61.5 miles to Los Angeles. Closing Ceremony at the VA Center, 11301 Wilshire Boulevard.


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SOURCE AIDS/LifeCycle
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