Why am I riding?
I'm riding AIDS/Lifecycle to challenge the stigma around HIV/AIDS and raise awareness of my personal journey to understanding (and also have an excuse to wear lycra!)
A few years ago I had the opportunity to participate in a first-in-human trial for a HIV vaccine being developed in the UK. I didn't have a personal connection to the HIV community at the time, although being gay I was always aware of the impact the virus has had on my community. My status is currently negative and when deciding whether to take part in the trial there was an unknown risk that the vaccine could have an impact on my immune system's future response towards the virus. Going through the informed consent process for the study made me face up to and challenge my own stigma and beliefs around HIV.
I grew up in a happy, but fairly conservative catholic home in rural England, and the year I was born (1987) was when the UK government of the time released the Aids Monolith TV ad as part of their frightening, hard hitting campaign to raise public awareness of HIV/AIDS. This instilled a deep fear in me, and way into my late 20's I still associated sex with HIV/AIDS and despite always using protection, every time I got a cold my immediate thought was to think the worst.
My participation in the vaccine trial forced me to educate myself on how the virus works and can be managed if it becomes AIDS. I learnt about PrEP as an additional prevention method to contraceptives and enjoyed the benefits this had on my personal relationships and confidence. AIDS/Lifecyle raises money to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS, educates on prevention strategies as well as supports those managing the condition. Programs also include funding research like the trial I was involved in to find a vaccine and a cure. The beneficiaries are the San Francisco AIDS foundations and Los Angeles LGBT centre who do this amazing work.
What is the ride?
June 2nd - June 8th, over 3,000 Cyclists, Roadies and Virtual Cyclists will be participating in AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise funds for the life-saving services offered by San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. This year, I’ll be one of them!
The services provided as a result of this event mean the world to those who receive them, and your support means the world to me.
We’re working together to make HIV/AIDS a thing of the past. Will you support me by making a donation today?
I'm covering all my own costs of participating in the event, 100% of your donation goes directly to the beneficiaries.
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