A tragedy that never seems to end

Every few years, someone writes that the AIDS epidemic is over. Then one of the clients on my GMHC Buddy team dies and I want to kick the shit out of the journalist who wrote that story.

Of course the AIDS epidemic isn't over. It's not over for the millions of Africans who are dying or orphaned. It's not over for the millions who will be diagnosed in the Indian subcontinent and China. It's not over for the over 40 million people around the world who are infected with AIDS.

And it's not over for the hundreds of men and women who rely on Gay Mens Health Crisis here in New York for information, education, advocacy and help. That's why after a six-month leave, I rejoined GMHC's Buddy Program this year. I have been working with people with AIDS for over 18 years and I'm still waiting for the Manhattan Project for AIDS that Bill Clinton promised, the billions of dollars in AIDS funding that George W. Bush promised. I expect I'll still be waiting for the Federal government to do something long after either of those two are long in the ground.
Indeed, what we've gotten most recently is the end of Ryan White funds for GMHC. So the Buddy Program now runs on a shoestring and a prayer.

Why am I telling you this? Because the 2006 AIDSWalk New York is taking place on May 21st and, as I have done for all but two of the 20-something years of the event, I will be walking to raise money for GMHC's programs. And now, we need the money more than ever.

What does this have to do with film? I suppose on some level absolutely nothing, except that when the epidemic started and I began counting the people I knew who had died, they were mostly people I had worked with in theater or film, and I don't need to tell you -- if you are reading this blog -- how many actors, directors, writers, designers, artists were taken from us by this fucking disease.

Here's your chance to do something about it. Please go to my AIDSWalk page and make a donation. I don't ask readers for money, I don't sell ad space on this blog and won't. But this is something you really ought to do, not for me, but for yourself.

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