The AIDS/LifeCycle ride 2012 is almost drawing to a close. Riders hit Ventura County tonight. Kevin Glenn drove over to meet his wife, Loree, who is on her way to successfully completing the harrowing 545-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles – for the fifth time! Kevin was looking forward to treating her to a hotel room and a nice meal at a restaurant after the tough week she has had. This year’s ride was particularly challenging for Loree Glenn because she broke her toe the night before the ride. All riders endured heavy rain on day two of the ride. The following night, Loree’s air mattress gave up and she had to sleep in her “modified” duffel bag.
But there’s a reason Loree and hundreds of others like her return every year to participate in this ride – to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS nationwide and to eradicate what has become a worldwide epidemic. Here are some statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation that could be shocking to those who have not kept up with the issue:
- One in five people living with HIV is not even aware of it.
- The share of Americans naming HIV/AIDS as the most urgent health problem facing the nation has dropped significantly, from 44 percent in 1995 to 7 percent in 2011.
- One in four people do not know that HIV cannot be transmitted through sharing a drinking glass.
- 16 percent of people think touching a toilet seat can spread HIV.
- 12 percent of people think swimming in a pool with someone who is HIV-positive could infect them with the virus.
People with HIV/AIDS still deal with stigma at home, at work, in church and the community. With dwindling media coverage over the years, there is the danger of people stopping to care and the danger of these misconceptions and stigma persisting. Riders such as Loree and the roadies who support them help bring the issue of HIV/AIDS back to life as they pass through numerous towns and communities on their seven-day route. They help reinforce the fact that just because many of us have forgotten about this important issue, doesn’t mean that it’s gone. HIV/AIDS is still very much a part of people’s lives and it is certainly one of the major health problems facing not just the United States, but the globe.