AIDS/LifeCycle came to a close on Saturday, June 11, as more than 2,000 participants cycled into Los Angeles. The grueling 600-mile journey had begun a week earlier in San Francisco on Sunday, June 5. Participants raised over $6.8 million from 50,000 donors for HIV services at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
The participants included cyclists from all experience levels. Each cyclist raised a minimum of $2,500 and was invited to join a training program before the event began. The event also involved over 400 volunteer "roadies" and medical and technical teams, who set up and disassembled camp every day for the cyclists.
In addition to fund-raising, AIDS/LifeCycle works to raise awareness of HIV. AIDS/LifeCycle enjoyed the encouragement of local residents and merchants along the bike route, who came out to show their support and offered free services when they heard about the event.
It is estimated that over 100,000 Californians have HIV/AIDS, 77% of whom are gay or bisexual men. (In comparison, the national figure is 54%.) People of color are also disproportionately affected, with 49% and 20% of new AIDS cases occurring in African-Americans and Latinos, respectively, even though they make up only 13% and 14%, respectively, of the U.S. population. Many of the victims remain unaware of their infection.
Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and a participating cyclist, spoke enthusiastically of the event. "This is truly the experience of a lifetime," she said. "The unwavering dedication I've witnessed shows clearly that Californians' commitment to ending AIDS, and caring for those affected by the disease, is alive and strong."
Official sponsors of AIDS/LifeCycle included Subaru; KPIX CH5/UPN 44; Wells Fargo; MTV Networks' Logo; Cannondale; University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center; Southern California University of Health Sciences; CLIF Bar; American Medical Response; and Joie de Vivre Hospitality.