Friday, June 9, 2017

#IOU100miles

As you read this, I’ll be prepping to finish the second half of the AIDS Vaccine 200. That’s right, 3 weeks and 3,000 miles from the first half! Those 100 miles across the Georgia countryside started out warm and muggy and heated up steadily from there. By the time we reached our Rock Eagle overnight, lightning strikes and a threatening forecast led to the inevitable early morning decision to cancel Day 2 and safely bus riders and crew back to Atlanta. Disappointment turned to determination on that school bus as cyclists planned their make-up rides. Mine is tomorrow when I take on the Flying Wheels 100-mile route through the three-river valley in my own backyard. It may be 3,000 miles from Atlanta but the route is equally long, rural and hilly, past pungent dairy farms, over and along rivers and valleys. The weather will cooler but it will be muggy. Lightning is forecast for late afternoon.

Stay tuned for the AV200 epilogue…

Sunday, April 2, 2017

This I Believe - 20th Anniversary Edition

“This we believe: One day every man, woman and child will live in a world without HIV/AIDS. Until that day comes we ride together – with hope for all.”          -AV200 10th anniversary motto
Until that day comes Is why I’m asking you again to make a generous contribution to my annual fundraising drive to move Emory Vaccine Center further down the road to ending HIV/AIDS. Thanks to the tenacity of every donor, doctor, teacher, scientist, care-giver, activist, clinician and advocate, new HIV infection rates are falling and the infected are adding more, healthier years to their lives. So much progress has been made in the 35 years since HIV burst onto the scene that it’s tempting to feel “that day” has arrived. Alas…

Every man, woman and child... Look closely at the data and you’ll see progress centering around those privileged to receive comprehensive sex education, have affordable healthcare, and access to testing and treatment without fear of losing their job, their freedom, their family and support system due to the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. It matters to me that progress is available to everyone, everywhere and it’s too easy to politicize that possibility away. The ultimate solution is an HIV vaccine and a cure for those already infected. Until that day comes, I’ll show up at the gym at 5am, haul my bike through baggage claim, pull on spandex and pedal, pedal, pedal. More importantly, I’ll peddle the same goal to you.

This year I’ll respond to our unstable political environment by doubling my efforts and hope you’ll do the same. Next month I’ll take on those 200 miles out of Atlanta in solidarity with Action Cycling Atlanta in their 15th annual AIDS Vaccine 200 for HIV/AIDS research at Emory Vaccine Center. At summer’s end, I’ll cycle closer to home in the 2-day Obliteride in support of Fred Hutchison cancer research. The Hutch and EVC are close partners in their drive to end HIV/AIDS and are leveraging cancer treatments to teach the immune system to fight HIV. A win against cancer is a won HIV battle and vice versa.

Both rides spend more than a weekend spotlighting attention on innovative research, commitment to collaboration and sincere appreciation for every penny of every donation raised by ordinary people with extraordinary expectations. I respect that your giving decisions may be as challenging as a long slog up a steep hill in a torrential downpour. I also respect the challenge of HIV. Your contribution, small or large, to either or both rides, makes a difference. Every dollar raised to help scientists explore new ideas can be turned into $14-$16 dollars in federal funding to carry that idea forward. Federal funding is no longer as reliable as your generosity. Let’s do what we can to maintain progress toward that day when we all live in a world without HIV.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Tenacity of Hope

Dear Aunt Idie,

Remembering you with gratitude this week. Gratitude that an east coast business trip would end over a holiday weekend, close enough for a detour to visit with you. Deep down, I sensed it would be our last and so did you. At nearly 97, you’d outlived your closest friends and younger sisters. I heard how much you missed and were ready to join them, even if it was the briefest of somber mentions in a day spent catching up on family and retelling stories, laughing and shaking our heads.

Today, I’m grateful to remember that day and your lesson on attitude. That visit 8 years ago led into the same event approaching this week yet I haven’t been coming at it with the same delight; joyful anticipation replaced by fear and anxiety. So much gained and so much to lose. Then I remembered your lesson for experiencing life the way I cycle a century – it’s a ride, not a race. There will be painfully long climbs and blissful descents, headwinds to fight and a tailwind when you need it most.
Everybody finishes and no hardship is greater than the attitude you bring to it.

Whatever it brings, time to enjoy the ride! See you at the finish line.

Tracy

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Rest Stop on the Road to Zero


Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Making AIDS History - A Short Course

HIV/AIDS is not cured. Yet tremendous progress has been made in the last 25 years of tenacious research. My access to several brilliant minds behind this science hasn’t lessened the challenge of understanding the language behind their discoveries. Still, the best way to raise awareness about a complicated topic is to offer an explanation that can be understood by the masses so as I journey to Atlanta, I’ll leave you with my best attempt at compiling an HIV Progress elevator pitch. I welcome your corrections and questions which I’ll take with me to the Emory Vaccine Center gurus this weekend for some solid (albeit scientific) answers.

HIV Prevention for the HIV-free

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the drug manufactured by Gilead as Truvada, recently approved by the FDA for those who are HIV-free and engage in risky putting them at risk of contracting HIV. If taken every day without fail, PrEP has been proven to armor the body's immune system against HIV infection and is 90% effective. This video offers a wonderfully simple explanation: 


HIV Treatment for the HIV+

For those already infected with HIV (HIV+), the antiretroviral drug treatment has been pared down to a "cocktail" of 3 drugs. By comparison, the original cocktail involved something closer to a handful of various drugs. The proper mix differs individually and must be dialed in and adjusted as monitored by a doc. With early diagnosis, easy access to consistent medical care and no missed doses, HIV can be arrested and even turned back, i.e. viral load reduced to sometimes undetectable rates.

HIV/AIDS is not cured but is especially promising right now for those who have the access, resources and determination to manage their care. The next level of research seeks to extend this promise to a broader segment of the population at risk of and infected by HIV. The road to a cure is long but the view is brighter.