AIDS Quilt - 25 Years Later: Yesterday marked the end of the "largest showing of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in [San Francisco] since the NAMES Project Foundation -- the quilt's caretaker -- closed its original Market Street location in 1999 and relocated to Atlanta the following year."♥ What started 25 years ago "as a single 3-foot-by-6-foot fabric panel has grown to a more than 54-ton tapestry with more than 47,000 panels remembering the [90,000] names of those lost to HIV/AIDS."
"Anyone who was around New York City in the late 1980s and early '90s couldn't have missed the work of the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, better known as ACT UP. Its group's activism reached a fever pitch during the early '90s, when the iconic black 'Silence=Death' posters and t-shirts seemed ubiquitous downtown and served as somewhat more defiant symbols for the Gay community than the rainbow flags that took over to serve that role slightly later. ... So what were we to think as we wandered through Barneys Co-op in Chelsea yesterday when we spied a whole shelf full of T-shirts featuring ACT UP's famous imagery [priced each at $50 ... 'a portion of that price tag will go to the activist group'] as if they were magically transported there from 20 years ago?" [more inside]
"In May, 2002, Jerome Mitchell, a 17-year old college freshman from rural South Carolina, learned he had contracted HIV. The news, of course, was devastating, but Mitchell believed that he had one thing going for him: On his own initiative, in anticipation of his first year in college, he had purchased his own health insurance. Shortly after his diagnosis, however, his insurance company, Fortis [now Assurant Health], revoked his policy. Mitchell was told that without further treatment his HIV would become full-blown AIDS within a year or two and he would most likely die within two years after that." [more inside]
"Some Florida teens believe drinking Mountain Dew or smoking marijuana will prevent pregnancy and that swallowing a capful of bleach will prevent HIV/AIDS."* As a result, lawmakers are pushing "for an overhaul of sex education in the state. State lawmakers said the myths are spreading because of Florida's abstinence-only sex education"* "On Tuesday, a bill that would 'require a more comprehensive approach' to sex education narrowly won approval from a state Senate committee."*
Austin Gutwein first became aware of the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS from a pen pal in Africa.“‘My pen pal [2006 video - 2:48]*...was the first one to open my eyes to the world outside of my own backyard,’ Austin says. One of the harsh realities that struck a chord with Austin was the fact that many kids become orphaned as a result of a parent contracting HIV. ‘I started to think about what it would be like if I lost my parents,’ says Austin. ‘I just felt called to help.’...On World AIDS Day [December 1] 2004, at age 10, Austin shot 2,057 free throws to represent the number of children who would be orphaned because of AIDS during that school day....Austin approached individuals in his community to sponsor his endeavor. That year [he] raised $3,000, which he gave to World Vision to be used to help eight orphans in Africa.” Three years later his non-profit, Hoops of Hope, raised $100,000 [2007 video - 2:32] which was used to build a residential school in Zambia for those orphaned -- and many infected -- by HIV/AIDS. Next year's goal -- to build a hospital. [more inside]
Long before storied 'Patient Zero' Gaëtan Dugas [previously] scientists now believe that HIV/AIDS "invaded the United States in about 1969 from Haiti, carried most likely by a single infected immigrant who set the stage for it to sweep the world in a tragic epidemic." A new study to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that researchers conducted a genetic analysis of stored blood samples from early AIDS patients and now believe that HIV first entered the United States in the 1960s -- and not the 1980s. Other "studies suggest the virus first entered the human population in about 1930 in central Africa, probably when people slaughtered infected chimpanzees for meat."