April 30, 2010 is “Positive Pedaler Day” in San Francisco. City officials are presenting a proclamation to the organization of HIV-positive bicyclists in honor of its 15th anniversary of raising funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS programs and services.
San Francisco AIDS Foundation interim CEO Barbara Kimport, one of the speakers at the 11:30 a.m. event at San Francisco City Hall, said efforts by the Positive Pedalers to erase the stigma of HIV is critical to bringing an end to the disease.
“HIV stigma doesn’t just interfere with your personal relationships, but it can also impact your ability to find or hold down a job, or maintain stable housing,” she said. “At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, stigma is one of the most significant barriers in our efforts to prevent new HIV infections.”
Nearly 30 years after the AIDS epidemic began, Kimport said the stigma surrounding the disease prevents people from discussing behaviors with their doctors that may put them at risk for infection, discourages them from disclosing their HIV status to partners and even interferes with their willingness to take an HIV test or seek care.
“To end HIV, we must end HIV stigma and that is why it is my great honor to stand here this morning to recognize a group of incredibly brave men and women who have stood face to face with HIV stigma, looked it right in the eyes, and said; ‘We will not back down.’”
Since its founding, Positive Pedalers has grown into an international organization and raised more than $8 million for HIV/AIDS programs and services through cycling events such as the annual AIDS/LifeCycle. As in years past, members of the group known as “Poz Peds” will lead this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle as it rides out of San Francisco’s Cow Palace June 6 on a 545-mile journey to Los Angeles to support HIV programs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.
Other communities commemorating “Positive Pedaler Day” include the city and state of New York, Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Minneapolis.
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