World AIDS Ride Dec. 1

Cyclists in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Tucson, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Montreal, and London are scheduled to ride, with more cities organizing daily.

Bicyclists from all over the world will participate in World AIDS Day by cycling 27 miles to commemorate 27 years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic this Saturday, December 1.

Some of the cities participating in this event are: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Tucson, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Montreal, London and Sydney. Additional cities are signing up daily.

This year's ride will honor HIV-positive three-year-old Caleb Glover. This past July while on vacation with his foster parents in Alabama, Caleb was denied access to the swimming pool and showers at Alabama's Wales West RV Resort. The incident received national attention including a segment on ABC TV's Good Morning America, where Until There's a Cure (UTAC) member and ride organizer Brian Hodes first heard about Caleb's ordeal.

The World AIDS Day ride organizes groups around the world to ride to raise awareness of the perception and stigma associated with HIV. So far Hodes has spoken to people in England, Czechoslovakia and Australia about having bike rides in their communities. In cities where December's cooler weather could present a challenge, Hodes suggests organizing spin class marathons at local gyms.

Silvia Glover, Caleb's foster mother, expressed her support for Hodes' efforts.

"I'm totally blown away that people all the way in California heard about Caleb and want to raise awareness," Glover said. "It's such an honor and such a good opportunity."

Caleb's health is now precarious because of complications from HIV and his medication, and he might have to have a feeding tube installed.

"Caleb's had a harder time than most," she said, "but he's a fighter."

Hodes, who is also a rider in the fundraising AIDS LifeCycle ride, a 545-mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to LA, will be riding in Los Angeles on Dec. 1.

There are several rides in the greater San Francisco Area. The largest in that area is being organized by the Positive Pedalers, a national group of people living with HIV/AIDS.

The Los Angeles Ride will start at 6150 Wilshire Blvd and travel through Beverly Hills via Rodeo Drive to Santa Monica and back through West Hollywood. All rides will start at 8 a.m. Cities and townships from all over the United States and the world have committed to highlight critical awareness by cycling in organized groups and wearing red symbolizing the AIDS ribbon.

World AIDS Day, observed December 1 of each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people, with an estimated 33.2 million people living with HIV, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 3.1 million (between 2.8 and 3.6 million) lives in 2006 of which, more than half a million (570,000) were children.

© BikeRadar 2007

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