Monday, April 20, 2009

Cycling for a cause

Thinking Positive is a blog about cancer and AIDS, but AIDS has gotten short shrift here.

I'm coming up on 100 days since my cancer diagnosis and I don't know when I'll get the upper hand on this disease. On the other hand, I've been living almost 18 years with AIDS, and my viral load is undetectable.

I haven't seen my HIV doctor at Kaiser face-to-face since last November, but he tells me that he's been keeping an eye on my medical charts and watching my blood labs. And he helped me shift from taking my HIV meds in pill formulations to liquids that I pour down my G-tube. I've been picking up my HIV meds at the Kaiser pharmacy once each month.

I'm lucky to have access to HIV care through my health insurance, but that isn't the case with every person with HIV.

Here in Los Angeles, people with HIV can access free HIV services at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. In 2005, when I was unable to keep up my health insurance premiums, I turned to the Center for assistance and was a patient there for nearly two years.

I will never forget what the Center did for me, and that's the reason I registered for AIDS/LifeCycle in 2005.

AIDS/LifeCycle is a 545-mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that raises funds for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. I rode and raised funds for the Center in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and I am registered to ride in AIDS/LifeCycle 8 in six weeks.

With each day that passes, it looks less likely that I'll be ready to ride in ALC 8. But that doesn't mean that I should abandon my promise to raise funds for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, especially at a time when the Center is at risk of losing funds for HIV services from government sources.

Please support the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center by going to my AIDS/LifeCycle page and making a donation. Any amount is welcome, and you can pledge to donate in monthly installments.

Last night, I got great news from a friend who runs a convenience store in Orange County. He keeps a jar on his counter for customers to donate their change to a good cause. My friend finished counting the coins that he has collected over the past year, and he'll be making a gift to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center in that amount through my AIDS/LifeCycle fund, just as he has for the past two years. He says that this year's donation will exceed $1,000.

On behalf of the patients and staff of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, I ask you to consider making a donation to AIDS/LifeCycle. Thank you for reading this.

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