AIDS patients and supporters come together today in support of World AIDS day. As we look back in the past from November of 1990, LIFE magazine first published a picture of a man named David Kirby who was wasting away from this horrible disease. As David sat taking his last breaths, his family never left his side. The photo taken back then became known worldwide as the face of the epidemic that millions faced around the world, including many people who did not know they even had the disease.
Now it is a couple of decades later and today lands the anniversary of World AIDS day in remembrance of those who passed and of those who are currently battling the deadly disease. Many find that if it weren’t for proper health care now, they would not be alive today. Some remember times when partners have passed, including relatives, but have long stopped counting how many have died in the shadow of AIDS. Will Boemer, who has lived openly as a gay man in Texas since the mid 1960’s, recalls in remembrance of several close friends, family and friends who have passed. He states people nowadays just do not think AIDS is a killer anymore, but it continuously takes lives everyday as he remembers a good friend who just passed last year.
Boemer is now a long time survivor of the disease and spends his time volunteering his services to maintain his local Marin AID’s project. Sadly the Marin community AIDS project has lost about 40% of its non-profit funding since 2008 due to federal cuts that led to a total end of funding for the project. When he was diagnosed, after a long time partner of his died, his T-Cell count was 102. A T-Cell count of 200-300 is the range that gives a diagnoses of full-blown AIDS. His lowest count went down to 33 and although he has been living with AIDS for 24 years, he has not been hospitalized for it yet.
An estimated 2.3 million new cases of AIDS was identified in 2011 according to the World Health Organization. 35.3 million people in 2012 is a reported estimate from the WHO of those who are currently living with HIV and the report also includes the deaths of 1.6 million people from the AIDS virus. The AIDS pandemic really needs the whole focus of the world to come together to find a cure and a vaccine that could save lives.
People may think that word has been spread world-wide about this lethal disease and that efforts to cure this illness are headstrong. Sadly over time, a new issue seems to have developed and it is called AIDS fatigue. There are many social signs that there is a problem within our societies when it comes down to AIDS lately. One sign is that people are beginning to believe the crisis of AIDS is under control, or that believing the disease is someone else’s problem. And some people have come to believe that antiretroviral medications are curing the HIV/AIDS pandemic, but unfortunately it is not.
So by having this day of World AIDS day, it can help to dissolve this so-called AIDS fatigue and bring patients and supporters world-wide together in the fight to end this lethal and not so forgiving disease that continues to take millions of lives every year.
By Tina Elliott