Over 100 cyclists took part in the Long Beach AIDS Ride this weekend, the first AIDS ride dedicated solely to the Long Beach community and one that organizers hope will continue to take place every year directly before Worlds AIDS Day.
The ride—a choice between 40 miles or 70 miles—took place this past Saturday where it started and ended at the Bluff along Ocean Blvd. and Junipero Avenue. Mainly, the event is to showcase not just the fact that HIV/AIDS, though removed from the devastation that the diseased caused during the ’80s and early ’90s, still deeply affects many, but that there is still a goal to reach an AIDS-free generation.
“The theme of getting to zero—what does that mean? What does that mean for Long Beach?” Dr. Marcia Alcouloumre, the medical director of the C.A.R.E. program, said when the ride was first announced. “Zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.”
HIV/AIDS remains active in Long Beach, with the latest data from 2011 showing that the city’s new infection rate has risen to 157 cases, compared with 127 from 2010.
The event is a partnership between The Long Beach LGBTQ Center and the C.A.R.E. Program which originates out of St. Mary’s Medical Center—the latter being the largest program in the Long Beach area—and raised some $30K for HIV/AIDS services that are offered at both organizations.
Donations are still being accepted at www.longbeachaidsride.org. Next year’s event will take place the Saturday before World AIDS Day on December 1, 2014.