AIDS Lifecycle - Ride to end AIDS

Being on AIDS/LifeCycle is a testament to what dedicated people can do over seven days to make a huge difference in the fight against AIDS. The experience of AIDS/LifeCycle for HIV+ Roadies and Cyclists is not much different than the experience of any other Roadie or Cyclist. And in fact, each year there are over 300 HIV+ roadies and riders on ALC. We all sleep in tents, wake up, shower, eat, stretch and hop on our bikes to ride ridiculous distances up steep hills, lug gear from camp to camp, host fanciful rest stops for Cyclists, or perform a myriad of tasks to make the Ride run smoothly.

Tips & Concerns for HIV Participants on the Event

Being HIV+ on AIDS/LifeCycle can have its challenges for some, but is an attainable goal if one trains for the ride and takes care of his/her nutritional and physical needs. The Ride can have unique health implications for those of us living with HIV/AIDS. Many of us have special nutritional and specific care needs.

The tabs below will provide you with information from our Medical Team about how to manage HIV disease while on the Ride.

The most common problems or complications experienced on the event by HIV+ participants are diarrhea, nausea, indigestion and headaches.

  • Diarrhea: expect to get it! Many things can contribute to diarrhea during the ride: heat, stress, change in foods, etc. As all these things can add to existing GI side effects, be prepared! Take Imodium or Lamotil Lomotil with you!
  • Nausea and indigestion: Before the ride, think about what upsets your stomach. Vitamins? Certain vegetables? Spices? Some of your meds? Avoid foods that do this.
    • Taking meds with food can help reduce nausea and indigestion. See "HIV Medications" section below. Ibuprofen should ALWAYS be taken with food.
    • Tips: cool foods help calm your stomach. Hard candies sometimes help. Get out of the sun -- rest as much as you can. A cool rag on your head and/or wrist can help to alleviate heat.
  • Headache: dehydration can cause headaches, so take some ibuprofen or acetaminophen with you. Avoid more than 4 grams acetaminophen in a 24 hour period. Also, stopping caffeine abruptly can cause headache, so if you drink coffee regularly, drink it on the Ride.
  • Cold sores (HSVI; herpes simplex I): The sun, stress, and exhaustion can trigger cold sore outbreaks and at times, very extensive and painful episodes. If you are currently receiving prophylactic medical treatment for cold sores, talk to your physician about what to do in the event of an outbreak. S/he may recommend you change your medication dosage.
    • If you have periodic outbreaks and are not currently on medication, talk with your doctor about whether you should be taking medication (Valtrex, valacyclovir or acyclovir) prophylactically for the event. By the way, this is a problem commonly experienced by our participants who do not have HIV. This is also a problem easily shared with others, so be careful with whom you kiss if you have an outbreak.
  • Bottom line: if you're not feeling right, tell somebody and get help. Talk to other Positive Pedalers/Roadies, your tentmate, or riding partner. Nothing is more important than staying well.
    • If you experience new or existing health problems that worsen, see the Medical Team before the problem becomes a significant one. In many cases, the Medical Team can make recommendations before the health problem sidelines you.
    • Medications, sun, wind, new food, poor sleep, physical, mental or emotional exhaustion, and stepping away from your normal support system are some factors that contribute to stress and can cause health complications or complicate existing ones.
  • Drink a balance of water and electrolyte replacement fluids.
  • Drink water all day and all evening long! Dehydration can continue while you sleep, so keep a full water bottle with you at night to drink.
  • Adequate fluids are especially important with Septra/Bactrim, or any other antibiotic.
  • If you take Crixivan, keep a close watch on your fluid intake to avoid problems with your kidneys (sludge or stones). You need to add an additional 1.5 liters above your replacement fluid requirement (which is already increased from exercise/exposure).
  • You're out of your normal setting -- how will you remember to take your meds? Make a plan before you leave. Discuss treatment options and tips for adherence with your medical provider and/or other Positive Pedalers.
  • Keep a list of all your medications and doses with you.
  • Talk with your physician about the ride. Do a check-in about any special needs before you leave.
  • Make sure you have your medical providers' telephone numbers along with your health insurance information.
  • It is best not to start a new medication regimen within one month before the Ride, if it can be avoided.
  • Keep medications out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
  • Medication sets may be easier to deal with on this event than individual pill bottles. These are readily available at pharmacies or often from medical providers.
  • Antiretrovirals that need to be refrigerated will be safely stored with the Medical Team and will be available to you at the AM and PM camps, as well as at the Lunch Stop.
  • If you have special needs or are feeling "off", always check in with the Medical Team in camp or at any Rest Stop.
  • Many of the providers on the Medical Team can assist with HIV-related questions and medications. Don't hesitate to engage the medical staff with your questions or concerns.
  • Specific Medication Tips
    • DDI/Videx and Lexivia should be taken on an empty stomach.
    • Crixivan should not be taken with a fatty meal, unless taken with Norvir
    • Saquinavir (Fortovase): Grapefruit juice increases saquinavir blood levels. Grapefruit juice should not be consumed during the event.
    • Reyataz, Aptivus, and Kaletra (all 3 in the capsule form) need to be with food.
    • Kaletra tablets should be taken with food.
    • Sustiva should be taken on an empty stomach and generally just before bedtime.
      Videx (didanosine) should be taken on an empty stomach. Mix with water and antacid prior to taking.
    • Sustiva (efavirenz) should be taken on an empty stomach. Do not crush, cut, or chew tab
    • Intelence (etravirine) should be taken after eating
    • Prezista (darunavir) should be taken with food
  • Sun causes dehydration-drink water & electrolyte replacement fluids!
  • Antibiotics such as Septra/Bactrim, doxycyclinecipro, levaquin doxycycline, and tetracycline, cause sun sensitivities -- wear high SPF sunscreen on all exposed body parts and reapply regularly -- you're sweating the sunscreen off.
  • Use plenty of sunscreen with SPF, even if you're not taking antibiotics.
  • Apply sunscreen to an exposed head and bring along caps and bandanas if there's not much hair up there.

If you have the opportunity to wash your hands, use warm water and soap and wash for 15 seconds.

Wash hands or use Purell/alcohol rub sanitizer after using the porta potties and bathroom whenever possible -- carry your own supply in case it is not available at your stop. Sanitizers should be available at camp and Rest Stops.

Wash hands in camp before all meals.

We are a group of people living with HIV/AIDS eliminating stigma through our positive public example.

The impact of becoming HIV-positive is overwhelming and invades every aspect of an individual’s life. Though many of us living with HIV and AIDS have returned to the ranks of public normalcy–a point to be celebrated–we must also scrutinize it.

Positive Pedalers plainly know that there is power in riding together with other HIV positive cyclists and being free to proclaim it publicly; that an orange Positive Pedaler flag placed on your bike is a beacon, to others and to yourself; that HIV cannot and will not define who we are.