Bicycles, cars, planes and hot-air balloons – that’s what it took Surya Prakash Makarla and Muntasir Mamum Imran to make their way from Mexico to Austria during AIDS Ride 2010, an affiliated event of AIDS 2010. Two hundred participants covered a combined total of 6,000 miles on their 23-day journey that was meant to symbolically connect Mexico City, the AIDS 2008 host city, with Vienna, host of AIDS 2010.
From L to R: Surya Prakash Makarla, Frank Maluwa and Muntasir Mamum Imran
(c)IAS/Marcus Roset/Workers' Photos
Along the way, participants visited approximately 80 locations, bringing AIDS education and prevention messages to 3,000 people. Makarla, who organized the event along with his brother Imran, said the ride served as a reminder to the communities they passed through of the commitments and promises made in Mexico City. The goal of AIDS Ride 2010 was to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and counter stigma and discrimination, thereby promoting the AIDS 2010 conference theme Rights Here, Right Now. AIDS Ride 2010 is the second long-distance journey the organizers have made, having biked from Toronto, Canada (host of AIDS 2006) to Mexico City in 2008.
In Vienna, the two men met others who were using cycling to raise awareness. Frank Maluwa, Chairman of the Bicycle Transporter Association of Malawi, has facilitated the creation of the Shapa boys group, which runs HIV awareness clubs for young men and women in Malawi. Another friend, Jane Hudson, Chair of the Positive Women’s Network of New Zealand, said that cyclist Wayne Hudson rode the Etape de Tour, the 174 kilometre public stage of the Tour de France, to raise money for PWN saying he wanted to “do something worthwhile for somebody else” while recognising the coincidence that the Etape was run on the same day that AIDS 2010 began.
All of the cyclists plan to continue their mission of spreading HIV/AIDS awareness by cycling (and taking other modes of transport) from Vienna to Washington, DC, the host city of AIDS 2012.