6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

30 Years Later, AIDS Still Kills

Support Provided By
sunset-aids-hiv2

Two weeks ago, right around the time the world was commemorating the 30th anniversary of the first verified case of AIDS, a good friend of mine died of the disease. He was 32.

It was a surreal experience to see the news media flooded with stories of how AIDS has become a manageable disease thanks to drug cocktails and read survivor stories of those who lived through the worst of the AIDS epidemic while at the same time grieving for my friend, whose HIV positive status I didn't learn about until after his death, despite being his roommate and friend of over a decade.

What was being remembered as a historical moment by the rest of country was happening to me for the first time. For months, my friend had been sick, all the while insisting it was a bad case of the flu. He lied about going to the doctor. He lied about having medication. He simply got sicker and weaker every time I saw him, which became less and less as he holed up in his room, silently dying, fully aware of what it was that was killing him.

I moved out to my own apartment about a month before he died and it was up to our fellow roommate to be the one to pass by the bedroom door one day, hear the labored breathing, break in and see our friend's condition and call an ambulance.

I kept up with the news of his condition by phone and then saw my friend post a new photo to his Facebook profile -- an image of him intubated in the hospital, distorted in iPhoto. The photo's ironic title: The Metamorphinosis.

And then he was gone. People always talk about "incalculable grief," but in the days that followed I did nothing but tabulate up the feelings and memories my friend's death brought up. Why did he keep his virus a secret? Was he suicidal or did he simply avoid treatment to avoid the truth until it was too late? Was it the cost of medical expenses that kept him from going to the doctor or the fear of accepting he was HIV positive? If he was in denial, whom else did he infect?

But mostly I felt the loss of someone whose life had mirrored mine. We first became friends in New York, at 19, with a date to see "Beautiful Thing" at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Years later, we rediscovered each other at East Village haunt, I.C. Guys, where future Scissor Sister Jake Shears danced on the bar for tips. When my friend, now a successful TV producer, told me he was moving to L.A., I was elated that one of my own would be out here in the City of Angels.

I don't know I will ever understand why my friend didn't get treatment for his disease, but his case isn't an isolated one. The CDC reports that HIV infection rates continue to rise among gay men and have been steadily increasing since the mid-90s. AIDS has killed 279,000 gay men since the epidemic began and 30 years after the fact, it's easy to pretend that we're not still dying.

But we are.

The photo used on this post is by Flickr user timotale. It was used under a Creative Commons License.

Support Provided By
Read More
Perez takes a break during his therapy. He could barely breathe when he was admitted to Los Angeles County’s Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in early June of last year.

Learning to Live Again: A Lazarus Tale from the COVID-19 Front Lines

Vicente Perez Castro, a 57-year-old cook from Long Beach, could barely breathe when he was admitted to Los Angeles County’s Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. At a certain point, the doctors told his family that he wasn’t going to make it. Months later, here he was — an outpatient at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, the only public hospital in the county whose main mission is patient rehab.
A keychain hangs from a lock on a doorknob.

Landlords Can Sign Up for Rent-Guaranteed Program to House Homeless Angelenos During the Pandemic and Beyond

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority today urged property owners to sign up for a program that matches landlords with people experiencing homelessness, with rent guaranteed by the government.
The fourth person from the left, Bii Gallardo help hold a banner that reads "DEFEND THE SACRED" during the L.A. Women’s March in January 2020.

Bii Gallardo: Building Relationships with Land to Fight For Climate Justice

“I’ve fallen in love with working with my community and working for social justice and environmental rights,” says Bii Gallardo. Those are the reasons why the Apache and Yaqui activist works so hard to recognize Indigenous voices and fight for environmental justice.