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Jun 11, 2010 12:17 AM by Monica Quintero

Largest fundraiser for HIV/AIDS

Hundreds of bicyclists are making their way through the Central Coast to raise funds and awareness about a deadly disease. It's the 9th Annual AIDS/LifeCycle ride and the world's largest annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser. The event is expected to raise $10 million. The 545-mile journey started in San Francisco and ends in Los Angeles.

AIDS and HIV hits close to home for Joseph Collins. It's what motivates his strong desire to make a difference. Collins said, "I have a lot of friends with HIV and I have a lot of friends who have died." He said watching those loved ones in pain has been incredibly difficult. "It's really hard to see people deal with issues that arise when you have HIV and have been on medication for years, years and years. Weird stuff that you wouldn't even think of, that just starts coming up. I have a couple of friends whose brains are shrinking," said Collins.

These riders are passionate about this event. In order to just take part, they have to raise a minimum of $3,000 and many of them raise much more than that. Collins said, "People are living a lot longer and a lot more normal lives, but longer and more normal lives doesn't mean the disease has gone away. " Organizers said more than 105,000 Californians currently live with HIV and AIDS. It's estimated up to 7,000 Californians will become infected with HIV this year. Collins, said, "People are still taking pills everyday, twice a day, three times a day. It's different for everybody and we've got to keep fighting until they don't have to do that anymore." Collins said everyone involved is fighting just by participating. It's a small way to have a big impact. Around 2400 bicyclists and volunteers from nearly every state and eight countries are taking part in this event.

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