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    Gearing Up for Our Third AIDS/LifeCycle Together

    lifecycleBy Ellen Haller, MD, and Joanne Engel, MD, PhD

    (Editor’s Note: UCSF will be well represented again at this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle, with many members having done the ride multiple times. Two such riders are Dr. Ellen Haller and her wife Dr. Joanne Engel. Here, they share their thoughts on the eve of their third AIDS/LifeCycle together.)

    Joanne Engel:

    When I first signed up to ride my first AIDS/LifeCyle in 2012, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be doing it for a fourth year in a row, that I would have raised over $30,000 to help provide free care and education for the AIDS community, or that my wonderful spouse would be signing up for a third year.

    Why do I continue? Because 1 in 5 individuals in the U.S. infected with HIV don’t know that they are infected. Because over 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. Because there are 50,000 new infections in the U.S. each year. Because only 1 in 4 individuals with HIV are taking anti-retroviral therapy regularly and have their infection under control. Because worldwide, the statistics are even much more shocking. Because I am an Infectious Disease Physician who has “grown up” with the AIDS epidemic. Oh, and because I love biking!

    It is an amazing and moving experience and a privilege to be a part of and to be a supporter of the AIDS community…We’ll keep riding until AIDS and HIV are a thing of the past.

    lifecycle2Ellen Haller:

    Simply put, the AIDS/LifeCycle is an amazing event! Well over 2000 riders take off from San Francisco early on a Sunday AM in June and ride an average of 80 miles per day for the next 7 days, arriving in Los Angeles the following Saturday. It’s a personal challenge physically and emotionally. It’s a beautiful tour of California. It’s a wonderful community of thousands of dedicated people, both riders and roadies, all committed to eradicating AIDS and to supporting those currently living with HIV and AIDS. And, it’s a sobering reminder that AIDS is still here.

    lifecycle3

    Thanks to the incredibly generous support of friends and family, I raised over $5000 for my 2014 ride, and that amount helped contribute to the astounding, record-breaking total for the whole AIDS/LifeCycle of over $15 million! Simply breath-taking and life-changing. This money supports the very important work of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. LGBT Center; both of these agencies provide medical and mental health care free of charge to people with HIV/AIDS (along with other programs aimed at prevention and support), and their primary source of funding is this ride.

    Back in 2012, when my darlin’ spouse registered for her first ALC ride, I thought she was nuts, but somehow I found myself signing up for 2013 while keeping her company at her orientation day. Riding in 2013 and 2014 was so very thrilling for me! I learned a ton about myself, met incredibly interesting people, and wore a dress (red, of course) for the first time in many, many years. Unfortunately, because of feeling ill, I had to skip riding one day in 2013 and then I needed to skip one afternoon in 2014. So, in 2015, who knows what’ll happen…my goal is to ride all of it. Yep, all 545 miles.

    I ride for the patients I’ve treated starting back in the early 1980s, first at UCLA as a med student, and then at UCSF. I ride for Danny’s uncle, Roy Kurokawa (Danny is Engel and Haller’s son). I ride for the many directly impacted by HIV/AIDS. I ride for all the people who have died from AIDS. And, I ride for my cousin, Bruce Haller.

    I want to do my part to see an end to HIV/AIDS.

    Ellen Haller and her wife Joanne Engel are preparing for their third AIDS/LifeCycle together. Haller is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at UCSF. Engel is Chief of UCSF’s Division of Infectious Diseases.