In the AIDS/LifeCycle world, today is what we call "Day Zero": the day prior to the seven-day ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Today is when 3,000 cyclists and hundreds of volunteer roadies gather at the Cow Palace in Daly City to turn in pledges, get camp tent assignments, watch videos on safety and attend to last-minute details before tomorrow's big rollout.
I'm hundreds of miles away from the Day Zero hubbub, but judging from posts I'm seeing on Facebook and Twitter, the mood in the Cow Palace is jubilant, and that spirit will serve as a seven-day tailwind pushing cyclists to the finish line in Los Angeles a week from today.
Since AIDS/LifeCycle's inception in 2002, more than $61 million has been raised for the HIV services of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
That sounds like a lot of money, but the 2007 operating budget of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center alone was more than $40.7 million, and the Center received $32 million of its budget from government grants and the government-funded AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Much of the rest of the Center's budget comes from events like AIDS/LifeCycle.
This week, Governor Schwarzenegger proposed a "Day Zero" of his own for AIDS-service providers in California. In a budget proposal released on Thursday, the governor is threatening to reduce state general fund support of all Office of AIDS Programs activities to zero, zip, zilch.
What would that mean to HIV services in California? The State's General Fund annually provides funding for:
- 80 percent of HIV education and prevention programs
- 76 percent of HIV counseling and testing programs
- 84.5 percent of epidemiology and surveillance programs
- 51.2 percent of Early Intervention programs (EIP)
- 100 percent of PCR and immuno/phenotype assays
- 23 percent of AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)
- 31 percent of Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA)
- 54 percent of home/community based care
It's difficult to fathom how organizations like the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation would continue to be able to deliver services to the HIV community if the governor's proposal is accepted by the state Legislature.
This would be a good time to pick up the phone or sit down and write a letter to your representatives in Sacramento.
California State Assembly
California State Senate
It's also a good time to be grateful for the riders and roadies of AIDS/LifeCycle, and the donors who support them. Riders and crew will be arriving in Los Angeles next Saturday afternoon. For information, visit AIDS/LifeCycle website