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:
DETAILS OF THE RIDE:
The route of the ride and the location of overnight campsites are as follows:
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