Why I Ride: Erik Zamora
When I began my recovery from meth addiction three years ago and entered 12-step programs, I was faced with a reality I had been ignoring for years: HIV is still an epidemic in my community. When I was using, no one talked about the risks of HIV and no one ever disclosed their status, despite the multitude of partners and the rare use of condoms. The open and honest dialogue about HIV that I found in the recovery community was new to me and it brought up a lot of fear and prejudice. I knew if I was going to overcome these feelings, I was going to need some education. So I turned to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.
I went to the third floor of The Center to visit the Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic and got tested. And when the HIV counselor asked me if I had questions, I said, “Yes! Yes, I do.” How should I respond when someone tells me they are positive? What does undetectable mean? Does it matter if you top or bottom? My counselor at The Center took the time to respond to all my inquiries and I was empowered. So empowered, I decided to become an HIV counselor myself.
I first learned about AIDS/LifeCycle while training to become a Certified HIV Counselor. I was impressed by the determination and hard work it must take to not only complete the 545 mile journey, but also raise the necessary money. I also was certain it was something I would never be able to do. But when I heard that the funds went to support the HIV services at The Center, I knew the ride was something that would not only change my life, but could help many of the people I care about. So I registered—as a 10K Club member.
This past June I rode all 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles and intend to do the same thing again next year. I am also bringing along a host of friends from the recovery community by co-captaining a team called “The Trudging Buddies.” Together we are committed to raising $100,000 for the HIV prevention and treatment services at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. I ride because regardless of one’s status, HIV affects us all.
For more info on AIDS/LifeCycle, visit http://www.aidslifecycle.org, or register to ride with us next June by clicking here and enter discount code: INSTINCT. If you’d like to support Erik in his ALC efforts, visit his page here.