It wasn’t until his 27th birthday that Joshua Flanagan, a gay man, found out that his T-cell count was only two out of a healthy range from 500 to 1,200. He was one of the many people living with HIV who didn’t know it. Joshua passed in 2013 — one of the individuals who waited too long for his diagnosis. Recently, his father, David, biked over 500 miles in his honor.
David Flanagan participated in the AIDS/Lifecycle fundraiser which recently took bikers on the 500 mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Flanagan is not your typical bicyclist. He is a heavier set man who sports a gray beard and hails from a small Texas town with only two stoplights.
Joshua Flanagan had experienced extreme weight loss and a dry cough which concerned his mother. She urged him to visit a doctor who only treated his symptoms. He was finally tested for HIV and received results on his 27th birthday; Joshua tested positive for HIV. As doctors argued on whether or not to start aggressive treatment, his condition worsened. Eventually doctors said he was healthy enough to go home — just 24 hours later, his heart stopped.
Joshua was one of the more than 1.2 million people in the United States affected by HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that of the 1.2 million people, there are 156,300 who are unaware of their infection.
The AIDS/Lifecycle fundraiser brings in 2,500 people riding for awareness and to find a cure. David Flanagan hopes that his participation and his son’s story will urge people, especially those in the gay community where the disease is prominent, to get tested.
(featured image via wickydkewl)