Thursday, December 01, 2011

World AIDS Day Reflections

I just finished reading Patti Smith's Just Kids, the poet-musician's celebration of her life with the artist Robert Maplethorpe. This brought to mind a visit I made, at the height of the controversy over his homoerotic photographs, to a small gallery in Berkeley, to take in the sensual bends and folds of his flowers and nudes. With the account of his death from AIDS and World AIDS Day (today) in mind, I also found myself remembering the very moving annual candelight AIDS Posada, where we chalked the names of our friends as well as those of famous people like Maplethorpe on the pavement in front of Pasadena City Hall.  And then there was the time that the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt blanketed the Rose Bowl. As thankful as I am that the urgency of that time has waned as treatments have progressed, what happened to the movement in Pasadena? As it happens, Pasadena Weekly has a timely article describing Pasadena's early leadership role in organizing AIDS awareness and the relative apathy of today,
Local activists are battling not just a diminishing public interest in the cause, but also a continued decrease in funding and donations at the local, state and federal levels.
Visit the AIDS Service Center's website to find out how you can support AIDS programs in the Pasadena area.
Today, the center, located at 909 S. Fair Oaks Ave. in Pasadena, supports more than 1,000 clients living with the disease and offers services to another 4,000 residents in the form of HIV/AIDS 101 education programs and testing, according to Director of Marketing and Development Anthony Guthmiller.
We've also become fans of Paul Farmer's work on AIDS, as detailed by Tracy Kidder in Mountains Beyond Mountains. This would be a good time to check into the Partners in Health website and see how their innovative approach is affecting HIV/AIDS treatment worldwide.
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