The Forgotten Fighters of the AIDS Epidemic

AIDS took no prisoners. It continues to be an unforgiving and heartless condition; stealing the lives of thousands of people from all walks of life every year, but still primarily from within the gay community. When HIV reared its ugly head in the early 80s it did its best to destroy anyone it touched. Were it not for the fortitude and bravery of the men and women who refused to bow before at a time when society often looked the other way out of intolerance and fear our world today might be a very, very different place.

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There are numerous quotes about history that question the human ability to learn from our past experiences so that we may avoid making the same mistakes in the hope to make change for the better.

The AIDS quilt at the Washington Monument.

The AIDS epidemic is now in its third decade. There is still no cure and people are still dying. While the manner in which individuals, communities and countries have responded has indeed changed, we find ourselves on a precipice in 2018. After a decade of steady decrease, HIV rates are on the rise again, and shifts in political ideologies, healthcare funding and prevention strategies are creating the conditions that could allow AIDS to make an unwelcome comeback.

The AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco. Image Source: Wiki Commons
Image Source: Elvert Barnes Protest Photography at elvertbarnes.com/protestphotography

So, the question must be asked: What have we learned over the past 30 years and will that insight allow us to make things better?