December 1, 2011
My AIDS Story: A Sister's Journey with AIDS

robluskey:

I lost my father to AIDS in 1994. He never got the chance to meet my wife and wonderful children. He would have cherished them. The link above is to my aunt Amy’s wonderfully personal account of the impact of this horrible disease.

December 1, 2011
My AIDS Story: Still Foreign After All These Years

jcorr0910 writes:

My family has been dealing directly with HIV and AIDS for almost 30 years, yet the disease and its effects still feel so foreign to me. My father, a hemophiliac, contracted HIV in early 1982 after a blood transfusion shortly after I was conceived. He died in 1991 when I was right, my sister 10. Coming from a large family, he had three brothers, and three nephews, all hemophiliacs, all infected with HIV. Some have lived and some have died.

What I can tell you from experiencing AIDS up close is that it is an awful way to leave this life. It is brutal on both its victim and their family. I have known the disease my whole life, intimately so, yet when I see the efforts put forth by the broader community to stem the spread and effects of AIDS. I somehow disassociate and feel like it is something that has not deeply effected my life. I have no idea why, as I’m not against speaking out, telling our story, or giving my time and resources.

The only answer I have been able to come up with is that AIDS, just like so many of the things that life can afflict you with, is something you deal with, you manage, and try to continue to live your life and move forward. I think that has been the testament of my family, it has never defined them, or prevented them from living. Granted ignoring the disease completely and not openly speaking about it has its drawbacks. I am glad for the work of the broader community to rid the world of a disease so awful that affects so many, many you would never think. But I would remind you all to keep living, to not let AIDS define your life, that it can be the driving force that reminds you everyday to keep living and moving forward.  

For World AIDS Day, we’re inviting you to share your AIDS stories with us here on The Atlantic Tumblr. If you know someone who is living with AIDS, or are HIV positive yourself, feel free to submit a post or tag your entry with #My AIDS Story and we’ll post your submissions here.

December 1, 2011
My AIDS Story: “The sense of panic and urgency to stop the disease was palpable and frightening.”

thirteenstiel writes:

I was born in San Francisco in 1978, and the AIDS epidemic hit as I was becoming aware of the world around me. The sense of panic and urgency to stop the disease was palpable and frightening. I remember my mother explaining to me what AIDS was when I was about five years old, in the tiny backyard of our tiny flat, and assuring me that despite the fact that it seemed like the disease was everywhere, that I wasn’t at risk. When I was eight, we briefly took in a former coworker of my mom who had AIDS - he had no where else to go and was relying on the generosity of his friends. Most of my mother’s coworkers (and friends) from the 80s are now long dead.

I guess I never had a moment of enlightenment regarding the reality of the harm AIDS could do because to me, that was never in doubt.

K., Northern California

For World AIDS Day, we’re inviting you to share your AIDS stories with us here on The Atlantic Tumblr. If you know someone who is living with AIDS, or are HIV positive yourself, feel free to submit a post or tag your entry with #My AIDS Story and we’ll post your submissions here.

December 1, 2011
My AIDS Story: Jim Isaman 1962-2009

dulce writes:

In 1986, I was a freshman in college when I met Jim Isaman.  He was the first gay person I have ever met and was the first person I came out to. I was an insecure 17 year old, struggling with multiple identities.   When I finally got the guts to come out, I came to him with an excitement as well as trepidation.  I worried that he didn’t believe me; I worried that he was going to tell me that it was a phase. When I told him that I was gay, he let out an excited yell, and he gave me the biggest hug and telling me “welcome to the family!”

 A kind and sweet man, he was also very active in the burgeoning LGBT community in San Antonio.  I was immediately attracted to his sense of community, his vision of a united “queerdom” (his word) and his belief that love and humor can make a difference.  He influenced me to get active the LGBT community, accompanied me as I started my own small career as an activist. He joined me to organize the first gay group on campus. He was there when I became more active in city/state wide groups.  He was a mentor, a roommate, and my brother.  Jim went to school to be an architect but left before his last semester when he found out he had AIDS.  This was 1989, during in the height of AIDS fear, discrimination and hysteria.  He was afraid to tell me he had AIDS, although I knew he was sick.  With fear in his eyes, he told me he had AIDS, I hugged him and said “you are family, remember!”  We cried and laughed that evening.  It was one of my best moments of my life.  

He tackled his new life with AIDS with hope, creativity and love.  He called himself a “professional guinea pig” as he was one of the first people to be put on AZT.  It took an hour every morning, noon and evening for him to take his medications, supplements and concoctions.  In 1990, the odds of Jim dying from AIDS within a year of diagnosis was almost a given.  But his full time job was to beat AIDS.  He had a lot of near misses.  Although he was very sick and in the hospital many times, he outlived his parents, and most of his friends with AIDS.  He outlived Reagan, which was a source of pride.  He died in 2009 but he beat AIDS. He beat AIDS with an infectious laughter. He beat AIDS with passion for truth and justice. He beat AIDS with strength and he beat AIDS with love.    

For World AIDS Day, we’re inviting you to share your AIDS stories with us here on The Atlantic Tumblr. If you know someone who is living with AIDS, or are HIV positive yourself, feel free to submit a post or tag your entry with #My AIDS Story and we’ll post your submissions here.

December 1, 2011
How Has AIDS Affected Your Life?

My uncle, Boston talk show host David Brudnoy, was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. He battled the illness for 16 years before passing away in December 2004. We weren’t blood relatives: he was a thesis student of my grandfather and close colleague and confidant of my father, a Boston-area journalist. But for the most part, he was a member of our family and, in turn, my introduction to the history of the AIDS epidemic in America.

I’ll always remember how David dealt with his sickness, how he returned to host his program on WBZ radio after his hospitalization and near death in 1994 with almost frenetic intensity. In a fond remembrance, Shane McLaughlin wrote in the Boston Globe that Brudnoy began broadcasting from his apartment four nights out of five, welcoming his radio guests into his home and eagerly offering them cocktails. He decided to forgo his annual birthday celebration and instead mark his “Death Day” with the same group of friends (my parents among them) who waited by his deathbed at the close of 1994. While his body wasted away, his distinctive mind and wit persisted until his death a decade later. He was one of my role models, and one of the few people who inspired me to go into journalism.

While I am not HIV positive, this is still my AIDS story. HIV/AIDS affects everyone on this planet, regardless of age, gender, sexual preference, or socioeconomic background. Most people know someone — a friend, family member, or adoptive uncle, or even an acquaintance — who has experienced the gravity of the AIDS epidemic.

So, on this World AIDS Day, I’m inviting you to share your AIDS stories with us here on The Atlantic Tumblr. If you know someone who is living with AIDS, or are HIV positive yourself, feel free to submit a post or tag your entry with #My AIDS Story and we’ll host your submissions here.

Thanks for sharing; we look forward to hearing your stories.

 — Jared Keller, Associate Editor

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »