A ride to save lives

Two Portland State students will participate in one of the three AIDS vaccine rides this summer in Montana along with 2,000 other riders from across the nation.

Luke and Leslie Boyd have been training for about a month for the ride from Missoula to Billings, Mont. The seven-day ride starts July 30 runs through August 5. Bike riders will travel 80 miles per day to meet the total 575 miles.”Everyone is doing this for the same base cause,” Leslie Boyd said.

That cause is to raise a total of $70 million to find a vaccine for AIDS for the Pallotta Teamworks, a fund-raising organization. Each rider has to make $3,400 by July 5 in order to participate in the long ride.

“The cause is incredible,” Leslie Boyd said. But she said that awareness is more important than anything.

Over 34 million people are infected with HIV, with 31 million of those being the poorest of the world’s poor. It is expected that 75 million more deaths and about 50 million more infections will occur over the next 20 years if a vaccine is not found.

“People are dying now, people need our help now,” said Dan Pallotta, chairman for the Pallotta Teamworks in a video.

According to Pallotta, 16 million children have lost at least one parent to AIDS. About 77 percent of all cases are in Africa.

Leslie Boyd said the statistics on these children affected her the most and that was one of her reasons for wanting to participate. Sixty percent of those infected in Africa are children under the age of15.

“It’s almost surreal,” Luke Boyd said.

According to Tucker Childs, associate professor for applied linguistics, the situation is worst in Africa due to the lack of resistance, ignorance, poverty, war, the conditions in refugee camps, politics, education and denial on the part of some country’s leadership.

It’s difficult to distribute the supplies to Africa and other nations. In addition, these people would not be able to afford to purchase the remedy. The pharmaceutical companies are accused of hiking the prices and limiting the amount of supplies.

“It’s available, but they don’t release it to people who need it most. That’s a sad thing,” Leslie Boyd said.

Protease inhibitors, which are used to stall the growth of the AIDS virus, cost about $12,000 to $15,000 a year.

“It’s so important to us that they have access to these funds,” Leslie Boyd said.The couple raised about $500 this week. They hope to get corporate sponsors.Next Wednesday, there will be another AIDS Vaccine Ride presentation in East Hall 109.

There are 65 riders from Oregon and 25 from Portland. The Boyds heard about this event on a radio ad and they decided to take part in it.Luke Boyd said he wants to get some community involvement after he graduates this term.

“I’m looking forward to getting out of school and getting involved,” Luke Boyd said.

The other two rides are from Montreal, Canada to Portland, Maine, which is scheduled for this September, and the Alaska AIDS Vaccine Ride, which runs from Fairbanks to Anchorage and is scheduled for late August.

To learn more about the rides, visit www.vaccineride.org.