SAN FRANCISCO and LOS ANGELES, June 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A colorful stream of 2,400 bicyclists and volunteer "roadies" from nearly every state and eight countries left San Francisco this morning on the way to Los Angeles as participants in AIDS/LifeCycle, the world's largest annual HIV/AIDS fundraising event. In its ninth year, the event is expected to raise $10 million to care for those living with HIV/AIDS and to prevent new infections. In the seven days it takes to ride to Los Angeles, more than 1,000 people in the United States and 50,000 people around the world will be infected with HIV.
AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, 545-mile bike ride -- not a race -- that supports the HIV/AIDS services provided by the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It also raises awareness that HIV/AIDS is a growing scourge that continues to have a devastating impact on our communities, especially here 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.
"With the ongoing budget crisis and last year's horrific cuts to HIV-prevention funding, the money raised through AIDS/LifeCycle is more important than ever," said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. "It's important for people to realize that the HIV pandemic isn't over and that there are still many in our community in need of quality medical care. The HIV services supported by AIDS/LifeCycle save lives year-round."
Participants range in age from 18 to 82 and are at various levels of physical fitness. Whether gay or straight, HIV-positive or HIV-negative, they share a common commitment to ending HIV and caring for those living with the virus. So much so that each cyclist raises at least $3,000 (most raise more than $4,000) to participate in what many consider to be a life-changing experience. Since its inception in 2002, AIDS/LifeCycle has raised more than $60 million to fight AIDS.
"San Francisco AIDS Foundation is working to end the AIDS epidemic in the city where it began with innovative programs for prevention, care and treatment so that San Francisco can serve as a model for ending AIDS everywhere," said Barbara Kimport, interim CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation and one of the cyclists. "We could not realize such an ambitious goal without the commitment, compassion and generosity of our AIDS/LifeCycle participants."
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.
AIDS/LifeCycle's presenting sponsors are Shopoff Properties Trust, FedEx Corporation and Gilead Sciences. For the complete press kit, go to: http://www.aidslifecycle.org/about/press-room/
About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
San Francisco AIDS Foundation works to ensure the HIV epidemic ends in the same city where it began. By combining innovative, evidence-based programs for HIV prevention and care with bold policy initiatives focused on issues ranging from harm reduction to total health and wellness, the agency is making sustainable progress against HIV among populations most vulnerable to the disease. Established in 1982, San Francisco AIDS Foundation refuses to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable. For more information, please visit: www.sfaf.org
About the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
Since 1971 the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has been building the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Our wide array of services and programs includes: free HIV/AIDS care and medications for those most in need; housing, food, clothing and support for homeless LGBT youth; low-cost counseling and addiction-recovery services; essential services for LGBT-parented families and seniors; legal services; health education and HIV prevention programs; transgender services; cultural arts and much more. For more information, please visit: www.lagaycenter.org