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, 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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Off Season

“Spring” forward the clock with a forecast of snow got me thinking of so many other paradoxes of the past few months – the world’s economy in the toilet, a historic new President, a jet makes a safe river landing and another simply falls from the sky; do I have a job today and will we still be in business tomorrow? Good or bad, things feel “off”.

How does it make you feel? Have we ever been so called to constant collective reflection? Thanks in large part to what I’ve observed in others, I’m learning to welcome that daily check-in to my psyche. Peel away the anxiety, fear and loss of control to find I’m invigorated, inspired and determined to not only keep my head above water but to hold my neighbor up too.

All this came to mind while writing about the start of a new biking season which, for the 11th year, begins in early March and ends in a late summer AIDS ride. My off-season activities have evolved over time but the annual process is really quite unchanged. I allowed myself one of those daily reflections to consider how events of this “off" season might impact my ride plans.

I invite you to read the results then share your comments about how we can best help ourselves AND the most vulnerable among us to get through this off season and back on the road.