Thank you for visiting my sponsorship page! Every year I participate in this event, I am moved by the generosity and support of my friends. It isn't easy asking people for money but this is a cause that I deeply believe in and it inspires me to feel the love from my huge support system.
This June, for the SEVENTH TIME, I am participating in AIDS/Life Cycle. In August, I moved to San Francisco, excited to finally be able to train with other riders! In North Carolina, I mostly trained alone, especially when I wanted to ride over 50 miles. I was approached by one of my closest friends about being the captain of one of the rest stops on the ride: Rest Stop 4, which is notorious for having hot boys in silly costumes, entertaining and raising the spirits of the riders on the last stop (often 80-90 miles in) before camp. I had mixed feelings about this because I am a rider and I feel like riding 545 miles is why people donate to my cause. I was also honored because Rest Stop 4 is my favorite part of the ride; the thing I look forward to all day while I am riding and the place where I take the most photos every year (I have to admit, I've always been a little jealous about their costumes). I felt conflicted because I knew that this opportunity was perfect for me because I love coordinating events, wearing costumes, and entertaining, but I was worried that I would lose donations, and that to me is the most important thing about my participation in this event. I decided to take a leap of faith and go for it. So this year, I may be training for the ride, but I will also be building costumes and sets and spending the next few months coordinating 18 gay men (which is like herding cats).
Last year, I raised an astonishing $44,000 - so close to my insane goal of $50,000. I am dedicated to this cause and will be involved until we can bring an end to this disease.
I am a part of AIDS/Life Cycle because making a difference in the fight against AIDS is my life purpose. The first week of June is the most important week of my year. It is a chance for me to pay it forward and make a difference in countless lives. It is a week for me to live in a love bubble with 3000 people who have one goal in mind: to end AIDS. Not everyone has the capability of training and riding for this and many people do not have time to take off a week to do it. I do.
Please consider sponsoring me this year. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of people across the country. I am committed to riding in this event every year until there is a cure.
HOW CAN A RIDE IN CALIFORNIA HELP YOUR STATE?
Some states across the country refuse to put much money into helping people with AIDS. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) requires that States contribute to the costs. In those states that do not prioritize fighting AIDS, there are waiting lists. So, if you cannot afford the medications that can average $15k per year, you just do not get them. It is not uncommon for people with HIV/AIDS in states with waiting lists to die before they move up on the list enough to get medications. In a country like America, that is just wrong. Thankfully, in California, every time a Governor has talked about cutting funds and reducing eligibility for the ADAP program, the policy advocates at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and SFAF (whose salaries are paid for by AIDS/LifeCycle revenues) have been able to swing into gear and prove to the powers that be that it would cost the state much more in the end run if they cut the program. That is just one example of how the AIDS/LifeCycle helps people with AIDS all over the state, regardless of whether they live in L.A. or San Francisco.
And they do the same thing with HIV/AIDS advocacy in Washington, D.C., that national advocacy, along with for example, the Center's research department that is looking for better treatments and a cure. For example, because the Center's medical clinic is one of the nation's largest community-based AIDS medical clinics, it is an ideal site for research. They often are the first to try new treatment methodologies or testing mechanisms. Just to give you one example, the rapid HIV test was pioneered in the clinic at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. Once they found that it worked, it became the standard of care across the nation. These are just some of the ways that AIDS/LifeCycle dollars make a difference for people all over the country.
But the truth is, we are not doing all that we can. We do not have enough money. Of course, medical care and medications are the most expensive, but HIV testing costs money too. And, we need to do more. More medical care. More research. More testing. More prevention. That takes more money.
Treatment and Care
Since the earliest days of the epidemic, the Los Angeles LGBT Center — the world’s largest provider of programs and services for LGBT people – has been providing leading-edge and affordable HIV/AIDS medical care. People travel to the Center from throughout California and four neighboring states for treatment, and medical providers from other countries travel there for training and advice on how best to care for people living with HIV.
The dedicated policy staff of the Foundation and the Center extends the impact of donations to AIDS/LifeCycle far beyond San Francisco and Los Angeles by working at all levels of government to ensure that federal programs and funding levels sufficiently address the needs of those living with HIV, and that HIV/AIDS issues remain a top priority for lawmakers.
- National HIV/AIDS Strategy - The Foundation and the Center played key roles in developing the first blueprint to end the epidemic in the U.S.
- Ryan White and ADAP - Working closely with a range of national HIV/AIDS organizations, the Center and Foundation were architects of the original Ryan White HIV/AIDS Care Act, and have been key players in its subsequent four reauthorizations. Through Ryan White and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), they have increased federal funding for universal access to life-saving clinical care and medications, benefiting people throughout the country.
- Housing - In partnership with community and national organizations, the Foundation and the Center, were instrumental in helping expand housing opportunities for all people living with HIV/AIDS, including federal legislation in 2014 that ensured an additional $3 million to help people living with HIV/AIDS get affordable housing.
- Statewide Partnerships - The Center and Foundation provide statewide leadership, in coalition with other HIV/AIDS organizations, to develop legislation like the bill introduced in 2014 to smooth the transition for those whose care is now funded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rather than Ryan White. Locally, they conduct community outreach to help people learn about and enroll in the ACA.
The Foundation works closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish guidance on how to administer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and to develop the first national HIV Prevention media campaign targeted to young Black gay men, "Testing Makes Us Stronger".
On the education front, the Foundation partners with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and HIV Prevention Trials Network to help build a supportive environment for HIV prevention research including the creation of educational outreach materials providing accurate information about HIV research nationwide.
The Center’s renowned Clinical Research Program conducts research studies and clinical trials that contribute to scientific knowledge regarding the prevention, intervention, and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The research staff are vital community partners with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, UCLA, USC, UCSF and other institutions.
Aligned with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Center’s research focuses on intervening at every stage of HIV infection. Current projects include:
- New Drug Research – For 17 years, the Center has been investigating the safety and effectiveness of new medicine to address drug resistance, reduce side effects, and simplify drug regimens. The Center’s research has contributed to the FDA approval of two new multi-class, once-a-day anti-retroviral medications.
- Biomedical Device Studies – The Center recently completed a trial of a rapid HIV test – a cost-effective, easily administered finger-stick test that can help identify ‘acute’ HIV infections (early infections that have a higher chance of transmission). This test is now used widely in sub-Saharan Africa and other underdeveloped areas of the world.
- Behavioral Research – The Center is part of a large-scale study of how Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) could reduce HIV transmission to a level where AIDS is no longer considered an epidemic. It is also studying how substance abuse contributes to HIV infection among gay/bi African American and Latino men, who have the highest rates of HIV infection in the U.S.
- Multi-site AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) - First funded by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease in 1983, MACS is the largest and longest-running study of the natural history of HIV/AIDS. The MACS has accumulated vast amounts of crucial data that have contributed immeasurably to the study and understanding of the virus, its treatment, and prevention.
- Academic - The Center is a vital community partner for academic, research-intensive institutions such as UCLA, USC, and RAND. Recent collaborations have focused on substance use in minority MSM communities, and innovative use of technology, such as retention and adherence to HIV/AIDS treatment through the use of mobile devices.
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