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LA Welcomes 2,225 Bicyclists Riding from SF to Fight AIDS

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Riders prepare to set out on "Red Dress Day" of the ride. (Photo: John Duran)

On Saturday, more than 2,225 riders and 550 volunteer “roadies” will complete a seven-day journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles with AIDS/Lifecycle, a 545-mile bike ride and the world’s most successful HIV/AIDS fundraiser.

The ride will end at the VA Medical Center in West LA with a ceremony at the Wadsworth Theatre at 3:30 PM.The participants of AIDS/LifeCycle 11 have raised $12.6 million for the HIV/AIDS-related services of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

“AIDS/LifeCycle embodies the true spirit of our community—people coming together and giving their entire heart, mind, and body to such an important cause,” said Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “Right now in the history of the AIDS epidemic, we are truly at a place where we can envision the end of this disease. But with vital programs facing budget cuts at all levels of government, AIDS/LifeCycle plays a critical role in ensuring we can continue to provide services that are reducing new HIV infections and ensuring everyone living the disease has access to proper care.”

Each AIDS/LifeCycle rider commits to raising at least $3,000, but most go beyond that commitment. Riders have raised an average of more than $5,000 each. Supporters can still make donations all week at aidslifecycle.org.

“People ages 18 to 83 have come from nearly every state and a record 16 countries to be a part of the ride,” says Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. “They come from all different backgrounds and walks of life to form a wonderful community united by the common goal of fighting HIV. Recent medical advances have given us great hope for turning the tide in the fight against HIV, but the reality is that the epidemic is not over. That’s why AIDS/LifeCycle is so important; it funds services that are critical to serving those living with HIV and to stopping the spread of the disease.”

Despite the remarkable progress that has been made since the epidemic began in 1981, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is far from over. In the U.S. alone, 1.2 million people are living with HIV. Every nine and a half minutes someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV. That means in the seven days it will take the cyclists to reach Los Angeles, more than 1,000 people—many of them gay or bisexual men of color—will become infected. Especially alarming is the fact that one in five people living with HIV don’t know it. The money raised by AIDS/LifeCycle supports vital, and often life-saving, HIV/AIDS-related services.

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