I consider myself very fortunate. I know many who went through far worse bereavements and upheavals, and I've managed to avoid the disease myself.
I remember when a positive diagnosis was a death sentence. I remember when affluent professionals ended up dying destitute because their insurance policies were canceled upon diagnosis. I remember families, especially pious ones, ending contact with children upon diagnosis; in one case, the family didn't even show up for the funeral. I remember when it was the youngest victims who died the fastest; I remember a charming young man from Stuttgart who I met at a couple of parties who was dead within a month of his diagnosis. I remember the abusive treatment AIDS patients once routinely received in public hospitals; bedridden and helpless patients were regularly hectored by evangelicals brought in by the nursing staff at one county hospital in the Saint Louis area. I remember landlords evicting AIDS sufferers as a matter of routine. I remember talk about "innocent" victims of AIDS as though any of those who died ever did anything in the whole course of their lives to deserve a death sentence.
The kids may think AIDS is an 80s thing, but it is not over, only stalled in its tracks for the time being. HIV rates are starting to climb again among young gay men in New York City.
The disease and its stigma have devastated Africa, turning back decades worth of progress in efforts to end poverty on that continent. The disease and its stigma are now quietly devastating Eastern Europe and Asia.
The one and only credit I give to former President G.W. Bush is his substantial increase of financial aid for the care and treatment of AIDS sufferers around the world.
I've always wondered what the health insurance debate would be like in this country if this disease cut through a population that really matters like white affluent heterosexuals instead of gays and minorities.
*For Dan Bunten, I found a web posting on a 2004-2005 reunion exhibit of the artists from Fortune Bank Building and Equipment. It has a couple of very small pictures of Fabian. I knew Fabian through Dan Topp who worked at Fortune with him.