This time next week I will be pedaling the first of many miles to come that day. It’s hard to believe how close September 19th really is. The closer the day gets the more excited I am to be a part of something so empowering and inspiring. It’s my hope that through training, the ride, and afterwards I have helped to create conversation around HIV and AIDS. This is not something to shy away from, more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are currently living with HIV, we need to talk and take action for them. Through conversation we not only raise awareness but reduce the stigma associated with the disease. In a recent NPR interview exploring HIV in the 1980s compared to now, Guy Anthony who was diagnosed in 2007, is quoted as saying “I was more so afraid of the stigma attached to the disease than the actual disease.” That is a powerful message, we have come so far in the scientific community that HIV is no longer the death sentence it was when the epidemic first broke in the 1980s. Now 35 years later people diagnosed with HIV can live long lives yet are suffering the societal implications of the disease.
Harbor to the Bay is about not only raising money but raising awareness. Creating space in our society to talk about HIV and AIDS and reduce the stigma associated with the disease. Truthfully this is a new mindset for me. Until last year I didn’t give HIV and AIDS much thought. What changed for me was when I heard a speech given at the end of the ride last year by a Positive Pedal-er. The openness with which this man spoke about his life resonated with me. Yes he was HIV positive but so what? By being open about his life it took away the power we as a society have given to this disease. No one living with HIV should feel shame.
I’m proud to talk about this, to ride about this, and continue the conversation well after the 128 miles is over. Thank you for donating. Thank you for joining this conversation.