Here's a video from a previous ALC Ride with the Gilead team. (I first talk at 30 seconds into the video).
This year is my sixth ALC ride, and it is going to be different. Last September I had bilateral total knee replacement. It has been a sometimes slow, but exciting rehab, as I now am back doing medium length rides (38 miles recently). I'm still building strength and confidence in my new knees, but am as committed as ever to supporting the ALC ride.
I have been involved in HIV work for the past 25 years. First, as a lawyer in Detroit fighting for people with HIV, then teaching a course on HIV law at University of Michigan Law School, then as a physician in training as a Resident and Infectious Disease Fellow at Wayne State University in Detroit. I then moved to Pittsburgh, PA where I was the medical director of the Positive Health Clinic. Over 10 years ago I joined Gilead Sciences and am currently the Vice President of HIV Medical Affairs.
I recall when friends were dying from HIV, when the diagnosis was a death sentence and recall when antiretroviral therapy first gave people with HIV hope. In 1996 when HAART was first utilized we all witnessed a change in HIV and AIDS. Today, HIV can be a chronic condition treated with better and better antiretroviral therapies. And new HIV infections can be prevented with PrEP.
But the epidemic has not ended. In the US today over 1.2 million people are infected with up to 35,000 new infections each year. And each year in the US, 10,000 to 15,000 people with HIV continue to die. Still 11% of people with HIV in the US are unaware of their diagnosis, many more people who are diagnosed are not in care or unable to stay in care and too many people are unable to reach full suppression of their virus. I recall clients from my days in law, patients from my days in medical practice, and friends throughout the past 25 years, who are not with us today. We all owe it to them to continue to find ways to better reach all people with HIV and offer treatments available today, but also to continue to find better medications and, eventually, the cure to HIV. I also know and celebrate friends and family who are living with HIV today and others who are using Truvada for PrEP to prevent becoming infected with HIV.
For these reasons, for the sixth year in a row, from June 2-June 8, 2019, I'm bicycling in AIDS/LifeCycle. It's a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to make a world of difference in the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS.
Help me support AIDS/LifeCycle by giving what you can. A dollar a mile ($545.00) is a generous donation that can make a difference, but any donation, whether a penny a mile ($5.45), a dime a mile ($54.50) a quarter a mile ($136.25) or any other amount that works for you, will keep me pedaling for all of our family members and friends to continue the fight against HIV.
We'll keep riding until AIDS and HIV are a thing of the past.
Thank you for your support!
David Piontkowsky, JD, MD