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.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Deep Gratitude

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.      -- Albert Schweitzer

The day my brother told me he had AIDS was devastating. The day he died changed my life. I like to think his spark led me to pick up a bicycle but it was each of you who fanned the flame in me and in HIV/AIDS labs nationwide that ignite hope in countless people affected by HIV/AIDS. Thank you for replacing my grief on this and every day with such deep, deep gratitude and exhilarating hope for an AIDS-free world.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I Smell the Barn!

smell the barn
(chiefly US, idiomatic) to experience heightened anticipation or to act with renewed speed or energy as one approaches a destination, goal, or other desired outcome, like a livestock animal at day’s end returning to its barn

One of my fellow Puget Sound Riders is a very fast cyclist who never lets a teammate lag far behind. He waits for slower riders at every tricky intersection and at the top of every hill but all bets are off within 5 miles of the finish line. You can practically see the jet stream off his back wheel as he flies to the finish.

It’s been 19 years since my first appeal for financial and emotional support of communities at risk of and affected by HIV/AIDS. The combination of these targeted efforts resulted in AIDS service organizations equipped to meet the needs of a community once dedicated to end-of-life care, now evolved to enhance the quality of a longer life after an HIV diagnosis. By the turn of the century, you joined me in shifting attention to HIV vaccine research, specifically to raise the small but mighty seed money needed to test pioneering ideas for fighting HIV/AIDS by small labs of cutting-edge scientists and prominent institutions in order to qualify the most promising ideas for much larger grant funding. Our smallest event, the 2012 Stealth Ride, generated a tidy sum that proved just enough to keep the doors of Dr. Yuntao Wu’s lab open long enough to complete the application netting a $3.3 million NIH grant – enough to take his “Trojan Horse” strategy for curing AIDS to the next level of trials. The sole beneficiary of our most ambitious 2002 Breakthrough Ride, UCSF’s AIDS Research Institute, was recently chosen to receive the largest grant ever awarded by the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) to cure HIV—$20 million.

Research kindled by your contributions has led to the introduction of highly effective HIV prevention drugs, crossover advances to cure hepatitis C and fight cancer. The fast-tracked cancer treatment, Keytruda, recently undertaken by President Jimmy Carter with great success, was based on PD-1 research conducted over 15 years of HIV vaccine studies at the Emory Vaccine Center; research directly funded by donors to the AIDS Vaccine 200 and Charity Treks and earlier AIDSRides.

Friends, I smell the barn.

May 12th, my bike and I will be back at Emory University to turn up the spotlight on AIDS awareness. We’ll join participants in the annual AIDS Vaccine 200 cycling event, representing the HIV/AIDS research contributions of hundreds of donors over the next 200 miles of this journey which, much like pedaling the Georgia countryside, has had its steep climbs, tiresome headwinds, inspiring messages, threatening weather, comforting colleagues and glorious victories that are more frequent and promising. It’s an exciting time to enter the homestretch of the battle against HIV and see the light of an AIDS cure ahead. My jet-fueled teammate always beats me in that sprint over the last few miles but he also leads our team in a tradition I extend to each person joining us on this journey—we cross the finish line together.

Your donation of any amount to the 2016 AIDS Vaccine 200 is humbly appreciated. Participant registration fees, corporate matching funds and sponsorships secured by the producing non-profit, Action Cycling Atlanta, pay all event and administrative costs so that 100% of your donation is applied directly toward funding HIV/AIDS research at Emory Vaccine Center to stop HIV and cure AIDS, together.