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.

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