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2015/7/28

Liu Jiulong is the first person in China to complete an AIDS RIDE. This fundraiser and HIV awareness raising bicycling event has been popular in other countries like the USA for many years. However, in China fear of stigma and discrimination have kept many people living with HIV from taking part in public events.

“Cycling promotes a healthy lifestyle and the AIDS RIDE is a good way to promote correct HIV prevention knowledge to the general public,” said Liu Jiulong.

His mission was to use the challenge to eliminate ignorance, misunderstanding, fear and discrimination for people living with HIV. His odyssey began 4 May in Nanchang city, his hometown. He rode his bike for 3000 km, cycling through 27 cities. 43 days later he completed his journey triumphantly in Beijing. Liu Jiulong said he carried out 30 advocacy activities during his trip, reaching 16 million people online.

He spoke about how he felt when he reached the finish line, “There were so many people involved and I enjoyed the mutual support we gave each other.”

Life was anything but great in 2007 when Liu Jiulong was diagnosed with HIV. He was working at an advertising company in Beijing.

He speaks about how he felt then,”I thought I won’t live to be 35 years old. I felt worthless and also very guilty and bad towards my family.”  He also experienced stigma and discrimination with people stopping to speak to him when they learnt about his status.

He felt so desperate that he even tried to commit suicide. Eventually with the support of caring doctors, nurses and volunteer supporters at the Beijing Youan Hospital he made it through those dark days and decided to move back to his hometown. He founded an organization called “Love Service Station” to support people living with HIV in Nanchang City.

Liu Jiulong started taking antiretroviral treatment for HIV in 2009 and said it has changed his life, “With life-saving treatment, I’m in a good situation. I can complete the 3000 km AIDS RIDE.”

Liu Jiulong wants other people living with HIV to know that with effective self management of HIV and by taking ARV treatment, they can improve the quality of their life. He is proud of his recent achievement, “It’s a great feeling.”

 

4 May, Nanchang city. Liu Jiulong started his 3000km advocacy ride with supporters including 100 local cyclists.

23 May, on the ferry from Nanjing City to Anhui, Upon seeing the  “To Ride with AIDS slogan” a lady shared a story about a woman who was living with HIV in her hometown with Liu Jiulong.

24 May, Bengfu city; Anhui province. Due to the scorching heat, Liu Jiulong took a break and spent time answering his social media followers’ questions on weibo (popular social media site in China)

25 May, Bengfu city, Anhui province. Local cyclists wearing T-Shirts supporting the campaign joined the ‘To Ride with AIDS’ event. The campaign T-shirt showcases a red ribbon and the slogan ‘Share the sunshine of life’

27 May, Yongcheng city; Henan city. This was the most difficult part of the journey. Liu Jiulong spent over 5 hours on this 30km muddy rode.

30 May, Kaifeng city, Henan province. Liu Jiulong decided to take a day off to rest and visit a famous tourist site, Kaifengfu.

2 June, Zhengzhou city, Henan province. Liu Jiulongshared  knowledge about HIV with students from Zhengzhou Institute of Aeronautical Industry Management. (PPT slide shows “If your boyfriend or girlfriend is HIV positive, what are you going to do?”)

11 June, Baoding city, Heibei province. Liu Jiulong held up a rainbow flag to support the  LGBT community.

9 June, on the way to Shijiazhuang city, Hebei province. Liu Jiulong stopped to take ARV medicine near an old train station. He hopes his life’s journey continues for a long time like the railway tracks.

19 June, Beijing. With UNAIDS and more than 150 cyclists, Liu Jiulang finished the last 8km of the 3000km ‘To Ride with AIDS’ in Beijing.

Bao Yong, a photographer living in Nanjing. He read Liu Jiulong’s story on weibo (popular social media in China) and decided to join in and record ‘To Ride with AIDS’. With tears in his eyes, Bao said in a Beijing Sharing event, “Throughout the whole journey to  Beijing, the most unbearable thing was  neither the heat nor the fatigue of the body, but the people’s ignorance and attitude. As soon as they heard HIV or AIDS, they immediately turned their backs on us. People who are HIV positive are the same as we  are, please stop discriminating!”

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