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HIV/AIDS - 25 Years and Counting

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Telling Our Stories: HIV/AIDS - 25 Years & Counting

HIV/AIDS - 25 Years ...
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On June 5, 1981, MMWR published a report by Dr. Michael Gottlieb of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in five previously healthy young men in Los Angeles, California. These cases were later recognized as the first reported cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the United States. Since that time, this disease has become one of the greatest public health challenges both nationally and globally. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS have claimed the lives of more than 22 million persons worldwide, including more than 500,000 persons in the United States.

Last night, Dr. Gottlieb, Dr. Mark Katz and others gathered to commemorate this horrible anniversary.

Mark Katz organized the event, with LA Shanti. He spoke about his practice over the past 25 years, and the lives that changed him – and the lives he changed.

Rabbi Lisa Edwards from BCC gave a benediction.

Dr. Gottlieb spoke next. It touched me on a personal note because he was the physician of a friend of mine who died from Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) This is the guy who sent an article to the CDC thinking it would be an “interesting blip” on the medical radar. Instead, he heralded in a health crisis the proportions of which no one could ever have imagined. He talked about progress that’s being made, but made sure that folks are aware that less than 10% of all people infected with HIV will ever have access to these medical advances.

Congressman Henry Waxman came to us via video tape. He was active in creating the Ryan White Care Act and has fought for people with HIV all along.

Pat Sawyer spoke next. Her speech was so touching to me. She was one of a group of women who basically saved my best friend’s life back in the day. Ann Copeland and Linda Luschei, Lori Levine, Roxy Ventola…. my dear, best friend in the world, Rana Ross.

Mark then brought Marsha Malamet up to sing a song she wrote with Michael Callen and Peter Allen. Everyone was in tears by this point.

The most intense (from a political perspective) presenter was Archbishop Carl Bean. He spoke about the numbers of new infections in South Central, and said that most of them are in young boys ages 15 to 21. He talked about the social stigma in that neighborhood, and the fear and shame. Basically, he said that what West Hollywood was going through 25 years ago is exactly what it’s like in South Central now. He said that it’s great that folks want to help with the AIDS burden overseas, but that there are black neighborhoods all over the United States in which people are dying at astronomical rates – alone and impoverished. He urged people to help where help is sorely needed – to step out of their comfort zone and into what the epidemic looks like now in Los Angeles – young, poor and in people of color. He was great (despite his public promise to Mark “not to preach…”).

West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman came up next and spoke about West Hollywood response to HIV, and to the community which we built to take care of our own. He told us that he is going to a Mayor’s meeting and he is proposing that cities which have money and infrastructure (and political will) “adopt” cities with high rates of HIV and no resources. He stated that West Hollywood has partnered with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to provide medical goods and services to a city. I can’t remember what city it is, and I think it is in Malaysia.

Next, Gil Mangaoang from APAIT spoke. His words were also touching and moving. He did say that the highest rate of new infections in people of color is in APIs.

Judith Light did an amazing reading of Paul Monette’s The Politics of Silence” which was so (pardon the language) prophetic. If he had any idea what is happening now… It was completely overwhelming.

My dear friend, and one of the most wonderful people in the universe, Barbara Crofford, along with Fredda Wasserman, led the SRO crowd in “We’ll Always Remember”. Fredda did a calming, meditative thing, and everyone joined hands and sang “That’s What Friends are For”. That, more than anything else in the entire night, reminded me of the old days.

Mark Katz ended the evening with his two most famous slides: Classic Coke and Shredded Wheat.

I looked around the room – and I’ve been doing AIDS activism since the early 80s – and I saw so few people I knew. It used to be that I’d know everyone – in Chicago, San Francisco, or here in LA. But in that room last night, I probably knew about10% of the folks who were there. So many are dead, more sick, but there are a few of us still kicking – but not there last night. That made me sad.

CDC article

06/05/81 report by Dr. Gottlieb

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by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

m521a1f.gif, image/gif, 443x409

the first published article on what would come to be known as AIDS

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Sharon Collins

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Sharon Collins...
sharoncollins1.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x300

Executive Director of LA Shanti

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Lisa Edwards

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Lisa Edwards...
lisaedwards1.jpg, image/jpeg, 560x420

Rabbi Lisa Edwards from BCC

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Dr. Michael Gottleib

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Dr. Michael Gottleib...
michaelgottlieb1.jpg, image/jpeg, 270x386

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Congressman Henry Waxman

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Congressman Henry Wa...
henrywaxmanvid1.jpg, image/jpeg, 320x240

on video

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Pat Sawyer

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Pat Sawyer...
patsawyer1.jpg, image/jpeg, 672x960

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Carl Bean

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Carl Bean...
carlbean1.jpg, image/jpeg, 448x299

Archbishop - Unity Fellowship Church

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Carl Bean

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Carl Bean...
carlbean2.jpg, image/jpeg, 236x336

Archbishop - Unity Fellowship Church

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Carl Bean

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

video: AVI at 6.1 mebibytes

reminding us how poverty is related to HIV

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John Heilman

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

John Heilman...
johnheilman1.jpg, image/jpeg, 292x416

Mayor of West Hollywood

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Gil Mangaoang

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Gil Mangaoang...
gilmangaoang1.jpg, image/jpeg, 236x336


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Judith Light

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Judith Light...
judithlight1.jpg, image/jpeg, 448x314

reading Paul Monette

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Barbra Crofford and Fredda Wasserman

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Barbra Crofford and ...
barbaracroffordfreddawasserman1.jpg, image/jpeg, 337x225

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Always Remember

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

video: AVI at 3.2 mebibytes

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michael callen slide

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

michael callen slide...
katzslidecallen.jpg, image/jpeg, 560x373

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shredded wheat slide

by Susan Forrest Saturday, Jun. 03, 2006 at 1:25 PM

shredded wheat slide...
katzshreddedwheat.jpg, image/jpeg, 288x412

a story of visualization

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