How old were you at the start of the AIDS epidemic?
I was around 22 years old and in college when I first heard about HIV/AIDS.
How did you first learn about HIV?
Like most people, I heard about it through the tabloids and the news. The university I attended had just started putting up educational posters around campus when I graduated.
Where were you when you first learned about the AIDS epidemic?
I had some knowledge of it in college, but it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco in 1987 that I understood the full scope of the disease and saw firsthand the devastation.
What does the 25th year of riding to end AIDS mean to you personally?
25 years ago I was struggling to come out to family and friends, while trying to find my place in a community that was under siege. It was at once thrilling and terrifying. And while there was passion and humor and grace, there was not a lot of hope. Twenty five years later I have my own family, my community is thriving, and HIV is no longer a death sentence. For me this ride is as much a celebration as it is an opportunity to raise funds and awareness.
What effect has the AIDS epidemic had on you or someone you know?
I was fortunate that the friends of mine who contracted HIV in the 90s survived long enough to benefit from the medical advances that gave them a chance to live normal lives. My biggest concern, really, came from being the parent of teen-age children, and seeing the epidemic through a different lens. I worried that the advances in treatment had reduced its visibility and that the lessons of safe/safer sex would be lost on a new generation.
Have you personally experienced stigma related to HIV/AIDS?
I can’t say that I have, at least not overtly. I felt the stigma most acutely when I was younger and the disease was negatively associated with being gay. People frequently just assumed you had it or could spread it. There was a lot of fear, misunderstanding and prejudice.
What would the end of the AIDS epidemic mean to you?
It would feel like an epic achievement, for science as well as my community. It would stand as an amazing example of what humanity can accomplish when it puts prejudice aside and works together. It would be lovely.