Thanksgiving to World AIDS Day

Thank you. Thank you for acknowledging the power of a virus to ravage lives. Thank you for extending compassion to every human being, protec...

Monday, December 14, 2009

"All You Need is Love"

Terrific coffee, global reach, giant heart. According to Starbucks, their partnership with (RED)™ over the past year "has generated money equivalent to more than 7 million days of medicine to help those living with HIV in Africa." Watch how they chose to celebrate (below) then visit the Starbucks Love Project, lend your voice to the chorus or a drawing to the Love Gallery to send an even greater Starbucks contribution to the Global AIDS Fund.

Monday, November 30, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009

Remember the lost...
mothers, brothers, babies,
laborers, teachers, artists,
middle-class, rich, poorest of poor.

Rejoice in the progress...
Widespread treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
Infected are living longer.
Stigma barrier acknowledged.
Discriminatory US travel ban lifted.

Renew our commitment...
to treat HIV until it is stopped,
promote universal access without discrimination,
replace stigma and fear with respect for human rights
and compassion for every human soul.

"The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is Universal Access and Human Rights. For me, that means doing everything we can to support countries to reach their universal access goals for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support - all the while protecting and promoting human rights."
-UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe
2009 World AIDS Day message

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Optimism in UNAIDS Report on AIDS Epidemic

UNAIDS today distributed extremely hopeful data reflecting years of tireless, challenging work to change behaviors, formulate new medicines, level the playing field on treatment cost and availability, reduce stigma, keep the money flowing and never, never give up the fight to end AIDS.

Still... too many deaths, no cure, more work needed to end discrimination & treatment inequity, complacency causing return to old, unsafe behaviors and spread of misinformation. Be vigilent, stay informed and contribute to the hopeful trend.

India quickly posted this easy-to-digest summary of the data via

Friday, October 30, 2009

Obama Ends US Travel Ban on People with HIV-AIDS

Unlike bird flu or swine flu or various other respiratory ailments, HIV is not an airborne virus. Though widely accepted for many years, America remained one of the last dozen countries in the world banning people with HIV/AIDS from cross-border travel. I applaud President Obama and the advance work of the Bush Administration for finally bringing an end to this practice in the U.S.

Obama Ends U.S. Travel Ban On Visitors, Immigrants With HIV-AIDS - Political Punch

Of course, if you read the comments appended to the linked story, you'll get a sense of why these popular bans stick around long after science proves them unnecessary. Fear and hate continue to fuel discrimination in many forms. While free to express it, such discrimination has no place in public policy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Impatient Optimism

Bill and Melinda Gates just finished their live webcast "We Are Living Proof". The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation boldly stepped into the growing global health funding gap to significantly bump progress that's generated hope and optimism where none had previously existed. Watch this video and spark the hope in you:

Yet we are impatient. Even the richest man in the world can't do it all alone and has told the US Government as much. Among other advances, a new rotovirus vaccine and immunization expansion are now saving millions of lives. HIV vaccine research is a noble but singular path to eradicate the AIDS pandemic, and I'm impatient...

The first investing rule is diversify, diversify, diversify. Be proud to support safe sex education, services & treatment for those infected by HIV, vaccine research and innovate science that seeks to take on HIV from a different direction. Fuel your optimism and demand that everyone stay in the game. It's making a difference.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Bicycles, 45, lined up against the wind, rolling over 4 states, carried by ferry & bus, winding past National Monuments, moving us along.

Inclusive. Men & women. Young & not so young. HIV positive & negative. Crew & cyclists. Mothers, sons, fathers, daughters, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, friends. Gay & straight. Scientists, office workers, students, doctors, laborers, engineers, artists, job seekers. Riding for one & riding for all.

Needing to unravel the mystery to defeat HIV.

Giving every ounce of strength, time and energy.
Open hearts, open minds, opening your pocketbooks.

! To win a victory over HIV and end AIDS.

The winning combination that was the NYCDC AIDS Research Ride,
four days in September, 2009.
Click for photo album, in progress

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

Day 4 - Boarding the Patriot to cross the Chesapeake, then on to DC!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tilghman Island Arrival

83 miles in 3 states - DONE!
Time for beer and Maryland Blues on George Mason University College of Science.
Sent on the go. Follow along at


After 3.5miles in NJ, 40 miles in Delaware.

Breakfast at Ferry Terminal

After 3.5miles thru NJ, we'll ferry to Lewes, Delaware. Good thing I did all that ferry training!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Puget Sound Riders Celebrate 10th Season

When the call went out to round up riders registered for the 2000 Alaska AIDS Vaccine Ride, Jon Fehrenbach answered. That year, and every year since, Jon has posted and led a perfectly calibrated schedule to prepare any cyclist for that year's AIDS ride.
Whether 1 or 45 Puget Sound Riders participate in an annual AIDS ride, all PSR are supporters - keeping company our many training rides, making donations, encouraging others and general moral support. Most importantly, in 10 riding seasons, the Puget Sound Riders have generated over $500,000 for AIDS research and service organizations in Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Washington, California and New York. That's cause for celebration and tonight, after initiating our newest PSR member (Dr.Wu), we did.

Back to the Atlantic

Sisters make it to the other beach again. Will take a pass on swimming this year.

Ready to Ride

Lunch at bird observatory then 30 miles to Cape May.

A September Ride

Rain has stopped but much of first half of route is under water and/or debris so we're bussing to 30miles out of Cape May.

High and Dry

Departing our dry cabin. Headed to PM rest stop where we'll ride into Cap May.


The National Weather Service...

Has issued a tornado watch for the entire path of today's route. VERY grateful for a dry spot to hang out on this highly typical Day2.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Bike shoes dry by the fire.
Sent on the go. Follow along at

Are You With Me Dr. Wu?

Admit it, you knew Steely Dan would make an appearance eventually... Our beneficiary, Dr. Wu gave a motivational send off to the riders this morning, then got on his Felt and slid right into our world of "on your left", "right turn", "HOLE!" Who knew we cyclists would make such an impression on our beneficiary that he'd buy a bike, commit to train and push thru the wind and rain right with us.
There was no mystery in how my fellow riders fell protectively in front and behind Yuntao (formality drops on the road), making sure no harm could possibly come to the man who could indeed stop AIDS.
Dr. Wu finished the day in the rain with the rest of us yet still had the energy to explain his HIV research over dinner. In fact, you'll forgive me if I get back to that now...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First We Take Manhattan

West coast riders Jill Norris (CA ride buddy & colleague), Jon Fehrenbach and sister Tam (both Puget Sound Riders) converged east at the southern tip of Manhattan this morning for a pre-Ride NYC loop. Ferrying in with Tam & Jill were a few more NYCDC riders & crew, in for a day of sightseeing.
Cycling the West Side trail north, we ran (almost literally) into fellow PSR Elizabeth and her sister who lives nearby - small world NYC. Who knew?
We circled around Central Park then grabbed a sandwich at Zabars for a picnic at Riverside Park. Fed and caught up on voicemails, we contined north past the ESAR finish line at St. John the Devine, then on to Grant's tomb.
It was a quick trip back on the trail, hitting the Financial District at rush hour, in time to catch the 5:30 ferry to Atlantic Highlands.
AWESOME happy hour ferry ride (as I type). We'll grab dinner with friends, listen to the Prez and catch some shut eye.
Ride out at 0800!

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's Show Time!

"Although this is the second NYCDC AIDS Ride, which was founded to raise money for the George Mason University professor and researcher, it will be the first time Wu cycles alongside the roughly 50 others who are riding from New York City to Washington to support his efforts."

Check out yesterday's entire Washington Post article about the exciting new cyclist joining this year's ride, then bookmark this blog for daily updates on everything from the state of my calf muscles, ice cream stops and flat tire counts to how Dr. Wu likes his PB&J and how quickly his lab will halt HIV.

Post your thoughts & questions for the lab team as blog post comments or message me on Facebook or Twitter, where @AIDSRider GG (that's me) will tweet along with the entire cast of NYCDC AIDS Research Ride characters @AIDSRides.

As always, thanks for the support bringing us ever closer to a cure for AIDS.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Riding With, Once Again

Tammie is jetting to the US Open as I type. No doubt, her suitcase contains a dozen cute tennis outfits, a good pair of sneakers, more than one autograph pen and absolutely no sunscreen. Though packed right next to that are her cycling shoes, 4 pair of bike shorts (3 borrowed from me) and just the right assortment of jerseys to keep her from getting strange biker tan lines. You see, right after finally getting to witness the US Open in person, my sister Tammie is joining me on the NYCDC AIDS Research Ride.

Lest you think my younger sister is merely a sun-worshipping autograph hound, it's important you know that without her influence a certain middle-aged mom of two young kids likely would not have gotten on a bicycle, let alone attempted a multi-day ride. In the late 90s, Tammie was the cyclist. She'd told me for years about her 2-3 day treks around the Puget Sound but that was something for the "recreation professional" in the family, not me. Then I saw a news blurb about a group of cyclists finishing a multi-day AIDS ride at our Nation's Capitol.

Tammie and I sandwiched our brother Bret in birth order. We'd lost Bret to AIDS earlier that year, so when I saw the news story, everything just clicked. I called Tammie immediately, saying I wanted to start riding with her, "One day an AIDS ride will come to our neighborhood and I want to be ready."

The following summer we rode a local MS150 for practice - on a 10-speed no less. Our primary goal was to finish each day on our bikes and not get swept in because we were too slow. We accomplished that and were pretty proud of our 10mph average too!

The very next summer, an AIDS ride came to our neck of the woods. Tammie & I rode together in the 1997 and 1998 Ride for a Reason, then the AIDS Vaccine Rides in Alaska (2000) and Montana (2001). Since then, Tammie plays tennis, cards, bunko, kayaks, sails, swims - you name it, she plays it - but I'm not sure the bike has touched the ground.

One of the reasons my fellow, active Puget Sound Riders chose to take it down a few notches and register for the shorter, flatter ride from NYC-DC this year was to draw back some of our teammates who'd been off their bikes for a while, including Tumblin' Tam - a nickname earned on the finish line of the 1998 Ride for a Reason.

I couldn't be happier she accepted the challenge and I'll be back to wearing this picture on my ride jersies, captioned,"Riding with and for Bret Granato
July 21, 1959 - May 5, 1995"

And to think we'll end this 4 day journey by pedaling together into the Nation's Capitol exactly how I'd been inspired 14yrs ago --- priceless!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Shiny Bright at Heart

Something about pulling down the duffel and rummaging for Ziploc bags brings on the urge to polish my steed. So I did. Though unlike years past, it wasn't in preparation for packing. The bike I'll ride from NYC to DC next week is already on the east coast. For the first time in 7 AIDS rides and nearly 20,000 miles, Stellar will stay home.

Under the setting sun, I lovingly scrubbed the season's rainy road grime off her frame and chain, buffed every paint scratch and noted how the mylar decal held long past her shiny new sibling's. All polished and clean, she went to hang next to her California cousin, under Kyle's racing numbers as if they could influence her into faster speeds.

Stellar has plenty more miles left in her but will welcome a break, much like her rider welcomes next week's flatter, shorter ride. She'll be back with a vengeance early next season when there's a chance of rain in the forecast, snow beside the road and the warmth of early spring sun in the air. We may get a bit rusty but there'll be no packing it in for these ol' gals. Not while there's a battle left to be won.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ferry training to Gig Harbor.

40miles down, 25 (w/Tammie!) to go.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Scenes from Day 3- Red Day

Empire State AIDS Ride

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sign Virgin No More

Funny coming from someone who helped found and run a sign shop for 7 years but taking charge of route marking - in fact *any* crew job on an AIDS ride that doesn't involve a bike - is foreign to me.

Barry rode out with me today to get a headstart and perform some on the job training. Pictured is my first posting. Now I'll set the alarm for 4:30am and try to stay ahead of the pack all the way to Rochester.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bike Takes a Ride

CC rides atop the ESAR Prius to Niagara Falls where she'll take me by pedal power to mark the first 20 miles of the Empire State AIDS Ride.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ESAR from a New View. Who Knew?

The surprise was on me. All day I've been pinching myself as I packed up the bike, pulled out the duffel bag and tried to figure out what to pack for an AIDS Ride when not riding a bike. You see, it's not September so it's not time to bike NYC-DC but I got an offer I couldn't refuse...

Tomorrow morning I fly to NY to *crew* my 4th Empire State AIDS Ride. I'll be marking the route a half day ahead of the cyclists, 560 miles from Niagara Falls to Manhattan. Suppose after 10 AIDS rides on my bike, it was time to see the road from a new view. Won't you come along?

Follow my tweets @AIDSRiderGG or catch my Facebook posts but you need go no further than right here to catch the view from the front of the pack, where you'll rarely find me on a bike!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rest of a Life

When called in to review lab results with my doctor yesterday, I knew enough not to be scared but wasn’t prepared for a treatment that involved taking a pill every morning for the rest of my life. It gave me pause to consider today I’d wake to a new element in my morning routine and an ounce more empathy for those who endure far more every day just to keep living.

Bret kept his pills in a Batman head container. It once held candy and now was stuffed 3 times with the pills he took every day. The rest of his life was lengthened 3 years beyond initial expectations but still ended too soon.

15 years later, many with HIV need only a few – some just a single pill to hold the virus at bay. Their lives are extended but with no guarantee of long term results.

I’ll take my pill each morning knowing that something else will ultimately end my life and ride until Dr. Wu or some other innovative researcher perfects the pill that gives everyone affected with HIV similar expectations for the rest of their life too.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

50 for 50

Bret would have been 50 today had AIDS not cut his life too short. Admittedly, it would have been fun to return the favor of lampooning my brother's milestone birthday to at least the level he'd have "celebrated" mine last summer but the fact that I can't won't stop me from celebrating.

On this day, I choose to celebrate my many HIV+ friends who are or will reach their 50th birthdays! They'll get to try out the latest wrinkle creams, fight to lower their cholesterol, lose their graying hair, bemoan their stiffening joints and celebrate every second of added life achieved by advancing HIV/AIDS treatments and therapies. Happy Birthday to YOU!

Consider today the day you make more birthdays possible with a $50 gift toward ending AIDS.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Disappointed that the first lunar landing was scheduled to miss Bret's 10th birthday by only one day, Bret, Tammie, Becky and I kept up a steady stream of pleas for our new brother or sister to arrive on the day man first set foot on the moon. Alas, Steven was born as due in August and July 20, 1969 would make Granato family history for the single memory of rushing in from play to stare at the black and white scene of Neil Armstrong descending in slow motion down the ladder to step on the moon then staring at the glowing moon that night, quite sure we could see signs that "man was here".

Much has been said about Armstrong's script for that first step. Appropriate words for such a significant event yet they could only be spoken by one man. How often do we fail to take a step if it can't make a considerable difference - a "giant leap for mankind"? Leaps are noteworthy because they are rare, yet mankind can only progress in the direction of our dreams by the many small steps of many men and women. At the end of the road I walk we'll defeat AIDS. Where do you leave your footprint?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Day the Music Died

I plead guilty to watching the entire Michael Jackson memorial today with tears streaming down my face and it was good - the release that is. I avoided most of the media retrospectives throughout the week in an attempt to focus on my own memories of the man, his music and his impact on my life.

In the end, I’m glad his memorial spent a good deal of time on Michael Jackson, humanitarian. Media never focused on it much but if you paid attention to the music, it was easy to remember how his heart overflowed. Michael Jackson expected no less from the rest of us than to Heal the World.

So we must, but he could also make us dance! The magical combination perks me up in spin class and was central to a favorite story from my 2002 Breakthrough Ride.. Day 11 of 12 from Seattle to San Francisco, cycling a long, hilly stretch from Davis to Napa on a sweltering day. A crewmember asked what he could get me to make the ride more comfortable and I asked him to blare some tunes from the top of the next steep climb, maybe something from Michael Jackson. Several miles later I was well into the climb up Cardiac Hill when I heard it, oh so faintly at first but once I caught the beat, I too “Beat It” right to the top with a smile on my face.

The young man was amazed at the affect but not me. The Michael Jackson musical medley may have come to an abrupt end but I’m grateful for a robust playlist that continues to inspire my most challenging uphill climbs – to the top of a mountain, to defeat a disease, to end the discrimination and stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, to heal the world.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

“Support My Cause” – A Poll

The world is full of caring, compassionate people who commonly perform heroic feats far from the media spotlight but lately, “causes” seem to be moving to the foreground. Maybe it’s our new President’s community organizer background or perhaps we simply become more empathetic when our own health or well-being is threatened. Whatever the motivation, people are responding by picking up their torch and reaching out to others to do the same.

This blog is all about my cause, my motivation and my invitation to join. Now I want to hear from you. What motivates you to take up a cause?

Today’s inbox held an email from First lady Michelle Obama with an invitation to participate in a National Health Care Day of Service event near you. Did you click to attend?

Have you ever started a Facebook cause? Why? What do you hope to achieve through that application?

How do you respond when a Facebook friend invites me to join their cause? Do you join out of friendship or go further – read the cause home page? Add a comment? Recruit others? Make a donation?

My poll (top right) refers to the Facebook model but can apply to any appeal from friend or stranger to support a cause. Please take the poll, share your comments – anonymously or otherwise – and we’ll find out the answers together.

7/07/09: There just weren't enough "clicks" to make the poll statistically valid but results received showed that 100% would join when invited, 40% would pass it on or donate $$, another 40% would go no further and a few would get personally involved. Your comments continue to be welcome!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What if I Told You

HIV was stopped in its tracks?

It was…very recently, in the small Virginia lab of Dr. Yuntao Wu, moving his research one step closer to clinical trials.

Dr. Wu’s research is innovative, his lab staff enthusiastic and they jumped a full year ahead in their timeline with proceeds from the 2008 inaugural NYCDC AIDS Research Ride.

Dr. Wu and his staff return this September to journey with me and 50 other cyclists from Manhattan to our Nation’s Capitol. When Day2, Inc. first discovered Dr. Wu, his lab needed only $200,000 to bridge their research needs while waiting to secure a much larger NIH grant. With your help, we’ll easily meet that goal.

Read this message on my blog for complete access to background links, pictures and updates throughout the year.

Many thanks for ALL your support of me and the cutting-edge HIV/AIDS research funded by this ride. YOU make the difference!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

That Thing You Do

Last December a friend emailed to ask if I wanted to ride Lifecycle with her this year. She’d recently lost her job and thought it’d be good to focus on something positive.

A few months earlier, my fellow Puget Sound Riders decided to ride NYCDC in 2009 but not before a lengthy discussion about fundraising in a depressed economy. Fundraising fear isn’t new. The topic comes up more often this year but the end result has changed. I’ve talked to a half dozen riders who considered their options and instead of shying away from the asking, came away more committed than ever to the cause. That’s not just AIDS riders.

More people than usual seem to be walking and swimming, running marathons, relays and triathlons. They’re raising money in memory of loved ones and complete strangers. They do it to fill empty days and empty souls. Mostly, they do it because they can.

People are giving. Volunteering is up. Young and old are doing what they can to make a difference. Maybe it doesn’t come in the form of $$ but certainly from the heart. Givers to my rides have held bake sales and car washes, hosted dinners and auctioned treasures, forwarded my emails asking friends to join in the giving. Some mail me stamps or a note of encouragement.

Giving hasn’t declined because we have less. We see a greater need and choose to give more…because we can.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Path to New Beginnings

Too bad most beginnings require something to end, and in my experience, the most rewarding ventures spring from the most painful endings. One could easily get trapped in the chicken & egg conundrum on this topic but suffice it to say, we humans simply can’t take on more without leaving something behind and when forced into an end, the healthiest move is to find a new beginning.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately – living it, instead of writing about it. To bring you up to speed, in 2005 I accepted a job in Santa Clara, CA – only a few miles from my first west coast job decades ago. The opportunity was significant enough to buy an apartment and hop a 6am flight every Monday, returning on Friday afternoons. The adjustment was huge but my family & friends got in the groove soon enough.

With a self-imposed 4 year timeline, I’d initially hoped to keep my California life strictly professional. After all, it was hard enough to leave my friends when we moved from the state in 1993 and I wasn’t interested in repeating that heartache with new ones. Of course, those of you laughing hardest right now know that resolve lasted about 2 weeks! But I have no regrets.

The experience allowed me some greatly missed face time with old friends and family and exposed me to an incredibly bright, hard-working, earnest and fun group of people who valiantly ride the fast-paced, turbulent Silicon Valley wave from one change to the next with dignity and flair, in the office, at the gym, and yes, even on a bicycle. If it weren’t for the regular 6am spinners at Gold’s Gym and my many after work and weekend ride buddies, I’d have never been prepared for my last 4 rides and I’m happy to have had a couple of them join the AIDS ride effort.

Last week, after 50 months, right on schedule though not quite as planned, the job came to an end. I bought a one-way ticket to San Jose and spent the week cleaning and packing and saying good-bye. It was as wonderful to laugh over memories as it was heartbreaking to stop making them, yet beneath it all echoes the promise of a new beginning.

It’s been stirring for some time and the high cost of this ending seems the surest signal it’s time for “the next big thing”. You’ll be the first to know.

In gratitude for the mighty blessings that consistently move us thru painful endings to new beginnings, this post in particular is dedicated to the memory of my brother, Bret.
July 21, 1959 - May 5, 1995

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The High Price of Misjudgement

My mind blocked out many details of the painful day my brother told me he had AIDS but one of his comments comes to mind over and over again. Bret made it clear that he didn’t want us wearing AIDS ribbons and that he would certainly never wear one. When I asked why, he simply stated “people assume you’re gay”.

In my opinion, the most insidious plague on humanity really isn’t HIV or cancer, poverty or global warming. The most destructive of all is stigma. If humans can’t get past what is socially acceptable, politically correct or morally valued, there can never be a cure or comprehensive solution to any problem.
Stigma - an attribute, behavior, or reputation which is socially discrediting in a particular way: it causes an individual to be mentally classified by others in an undesirable, rejected stereotype rather than in an accepted, normal one.
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of viewing the entire clip of Susan Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent, I encourage you to do it now. This amazing 7 min. exercise will test your own tolerance for stigma, and if you come up lacking, I hope it rattles you enough to consider things differently in the future.

Since that first red loop of the early 90s, awareness ribbons can now be seen in every color of the rainbow, drawing attention to various health and social issues, political and military causes. In honor of Bret, the ribbon I’ve worn on my wrist for the last 13 years has no color. It forces people to stop and ask. When I can tell them face to face that I wear the ribbon to represent my fight against AIDS it’s that much easier to get past the stigma and on to the more vital message it represents.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Dunc!

A tribute to good times and the best memories...

"Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold"

Happy birthday to the most golden friend Bret or I ever had, long before hitting our golden years.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Easter People

This Easter morning, I woke with a memory that sat with me like an unfinished story.

Several months ago, I set out to share a personal story of life with HIV in 21st century America. In a time and place where HIV can be diagnosed early and treatments are more effective, I’d thought it would shed a hopeful light on an otherwise bleak topic. The story a friend agreed to share began exactly that way – more than 15 years of careful treatment and proper nutrition had brought the HIV to undetectable levels in his body.

He stressed the importance of early detection and relentless protection but as the topic turned to eradicating the virus all together, this man who’s as close as a brother to me said something completely unexpected. He believes the government purposely released HIV into undesirable populations, specifically African-Americans and the gay population. I’d heard this Conspiracy Theory but never a compelling reason to consider it seriously and wouldn’t in this interview either, but it bothered me that this intelligent man I dearly loved would feel so betrayed.

This morning’s Easter message put the pieces together. Quite simply, it’s no mystery a gay, black man would feel persecuted. Easter is the story of life-saving grace overcoming the darkness of death, not only in the way He died but in the way Jesus lived. Sadly, our world will continue to cast out and persecute, but as Easter people we are called to continue the work Jesus modeled, to bring hope and healing to the dark places in our world. How will we write the end of this story?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Refocusing the Home Field

This morning I handed a card to a fellow cyclist describing the AIDS ride I’m doing this year. Her response, “You don’t hear much about AIDS anymore”. The glass half full side of me thinks that’s progress. Two years ago the response was more likely to be “AIDS? Isn’t that cured?”

Last Saturday I rode my bike for the first time in 4 months. Despite thousands of odometer miles, it took about 5 more to remember how to shift my gears. Shifting comes as natural as breathing so long as I’m riding week after week, but a few months out of mind had put it out of focus. Keep HIV/AIDS out of mind long enough and the message can get so out of focus it’s no longer believed to be a problem.

In the last decade, I’ve witnessed a growing American awareness for AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, education campaigns across India, increased funding for the Global AIDS Fund; we buy, carry and wear (RED) but what does it mean in our own neighborhoods? In our own families and social circles? Last month’s news out of DC is the most startling evidence that the HIV prevention message must be loud, must remain effective and must, above all, be persistent.

Yesterday, the Obama administration announced their plan to “attack complacency" and “put HIV/AIDS back on the nation’s radar screen”. The planned spend of $45 million over five years is the ounce of prevention needed to refocus this nation on protecting itself from the still fatal and costly ravages of AIDS.

You signed on for a National AIDS Strategy call to action. You made this difference. Thank you!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Severe Epidemic HIV Rates in Our Own Backyard

Most AIDS rides are intentionally routed through small towns and rural areas. Rider safety is one, but not the only reason. Most HIV/AIDS services are concentrated in large cities where subway stops, park benches and city buses are frequently plastered with safe-sex messages reminding us that HIV is still alive and deadly.

Stands to reason the greatest need for HIV/AIDS awareness would lie outside these cities. Sunday's Washington Post headline proves HIV rarely stands to reason when it revealed at least 3% of the residents of our national's capitol have HIV or AIDS.
"Our rates are higher than West Africa," said Shannon L. Hader, director of the District's HIV/AIDS Administration, who once led the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work in Zimbabwe. "They're on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya."

The DC data is pretty equally spread across all modes of transmission and indicates a smattering of stigma and ignorance compounded by a lag in prioritized attention.

The NYCDC AIDS Research Ride doesn't enter Washington, DC via the scenic, well-travelled route. We ride, and even walk, through some of the more sketchy neighborhoods on our way to Capitol Hill. We'll ride into Washington, DC again on September 13. It's just one day, and a simple message, but one that needs to be heard unceasingly, until there's a cure.