by this video of White House press conferences regarding AIDs, and I think the thing I need to single out is the laughter. The stigma of being gay overrode the seriousness of the spread of a killer disease, and continued to do so among government officials and press personnel for some time. Right about this time, Rock Hudson tried to inveigh upon the White House to let him get treatment where he might actually get results. (He was turned down. )
Denial and silence meant death for so many. We understand now, and with correct treatment, HIV pos people no longer face a death sentence. Tremendous gains have been made world wide in reducing the spread of HIV infection, and delivering medication to prevent needless deaths.
But I don't think it is wise to forget the callousness of the original reaction--the chuckling denial of humanity that let so many people die without anyone realizing that we needed to get their backs, start programs to prevent the spread, get condoms out there, start needle exchanges, upgrade the gay relationships being fraught with death with the dignity of being called marriage, because people were dying and leaving their estates to families that were strangers to them, while their loved ones lived on in shock and awe. People died alone because their partners didn't have rights to see them, sometimes.
For recognition of World AIDs day--stop everything and think of the first ten people you love the most in the world, and imagine they passed in a horrifying way. In the span of a about five years. This is what some gay folks lived through. That's emotionally devastating. We need to continue talking about testing, and knowing your risk, and knowing your status. Recognizing that life can go on after HIV. Sometimes screw-ups fail the fragile humans that are prone to this disease.
But we should always be aiming for better--less infections, better survival, more access to life-saving drugs, better outcomes, longer lifespans.
Addendum: I think it should be acknowledged that Elizabeth Taylor was basically an angel in people clothes.