Riders pedal across Georgia and back to fight for HIV vaccine

Scores of cyclists slipped into their Spandex and pedaled from Emory to middle Georgia the weekend to raise money for HIV non-profits and vaccine research.

The 15th Annual AIDS Vaccine 200 launched early Saturday at the Emory School of Medicine as the participants embarked on a 200-mile trek from Decatur to Eatonton and back. Foul weather prompted organizers to cancel the ride's return trip on Sunday. But participants, organizers and supporters celebrated with a closing party at Emory.

Fundraising totals haven't been released for the 2017 event. But in the 14 years before, the event has donated a total of $2.42 million to the Emory Vaccine Center ($2.11 million), AID Atlanta ($17,500), AIDS Athens ($20,125), Jerusalem House ($220,050) and Positive Impact Health Centers ($53,900). View the year-by-year tallies.

The funds are critical to the work of the vaccine center. Via Emory News Center:

"An effective AIDS vaccine is still a critical need in the fight against this challenging disease around the world," says Rafi Ahmed, PhD, director of the Emory Vaccine Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. The funds from this ride enable our scientists to continue to make groundbreaking advances in understanding the immune system's response to viruses and vaccines and help bring us closer to a vaccine that can prevent and treat HIV infection."

Need more AV200 cyclists in Spandex? Of course you do. Enjoy our photos from last year, the closing party in 2015 and rides in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009.

UPDATE | The story and headline have been revised to correctly reflect that Eatonton is in middle Georgia and not the north Georgia mountains.