As an action-packed year for the HIV/AIDS community draws to a close, TheBody.com takes stock of 2011 in a new series of articles, "2011 HIV/AIDS Year in Review." Read the entire series here.
Team4HIVHope will be returning to Race Across America after an eighth place finish in 2011, its rookie year, with bigger aspirations and two new team members.
Team members Jim Williams of New York and Steven Berveling of Sydney, Australia, are returning, with the addition of two new team members: Patrick Autissier and Matt Roy, of Boston.
Autissier, 48, an HIV scientist and researcher, will be doing more than racing, as if that weren't enough. He will be conducting scientific research during RAAM in hopes of discovering effects of endurance athletics on both HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals, and comparing the two. Each racer will be submitting blood samples before, during and after the race. Autissier plans to present preliminary findings at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., a few weeks following RAAM.
Along with being a scientist, Autissier is an endurance athlete, competing in Ironman triathlons and four solo RAAMs, and also once as part of a four-man team.
Together, Team4HIVHope has a mission to demonstrate that with proper treatment, a diagnosis does not exclude you from competition at the highest level and that together, with a good team and lots of hard work, anything is possible.
Matt Roy, the other new member, is 38 and a Harvard graduate student in immunology. He has been an ultra-endurance cyclist since 2005. "RAAM holds a dual fascination for me," says Roy. "As a cyclist, I will be pushing my limits to help Team4HIVHope reach our goals of finishing in the top three; and as a scientist, I look forward to the results Patrick will get on the effects of endurance athletics on both HIV- positive and -negative athletes."
Returning team member Jim Williams, 52, a lawyer from New York, currently races as a Cat 4 with NYVelocity, a racing team out of New York City.
Steven Berveling, 53, lawyer from Sydney Australia, is the club captain of the Sydney Cycling Club, the largest cycling club in New South Wales, with close to 400 members. Shortly after competing in RAAM 2011, Steven competed in the New South Wales Individual Time Trial Championships, where he came in second.
While this year's team has two HIV-positive and two HIV-negative team members, the goal is still very much the same: to help alleviate the stigma of HIV, to educate the public, and this year, to surpass last year's time by finishing in the top three.
COMING SOON on TheBody.com: an in-depth conversation with Team4HIVHope 2011 about their triumph this past summer.
For more information on the team, see the team's Website, its blog on TheBody.com, or on Facebook and on Twitter @team4hivhope.
Read more of Race Across America: Team4HIVHope Cycles to Raise Awareness and to Win, Team4HIVHope's blog, on TheBody.com.