Image courtesy of the Keith Haring Foundation site
Where were you?
Where were you when the first plane hit the Twin towers? Where were you when JFK was shot (if you were alive then; I was not)? Where were you when Michael Jackson died (OK, so I really only remember this because I was on my honeymoon and everyone was talking about it). What you don’t often hear is where were you when you first learned about AIDS?
After reviewing the We Make the Change website and the subsequent discussion in class, I began to think about the first time I learned about HIV and AIDS. Being born in the very early 80s I remember the AIDS scare fairly well. The first time I recall hearing about AIDS and truly was when I learned about Pedro Zamora, a member of the cast of an early season of The Real World. His time on the show and his subsequent death, reported on and discussed on MTV, brought AIDS to a larger, younger audience. No doubt I heard something about AIDS in school, I was old enough to understand the virus and fears about it spreading abounded. What The Real World accomplished that no class could is provide a living, breathing example of the effect AIDS had not only on a person but those around them.
Perhaps it was the first time a face was put to AIDS that made it memorable to me. I remember Keith Haring’s paintings – my aunt had a print in her room – but I do not anything about the artist. I also remember the controversy around Magic Johnson playing basketball. It was seeing and hearing Zamora’s story for the first time lead me to ask questions. This personal connection came back to mind as I reviewed We Make the Change. I imagine some people, when asked when they first learned about AIDS, will refer back to the first time they visit this site or view the mobile exhibit with great clarity. The compelling stories the participants tell the viewer transforms AIDS from some elusive killer to someone who could be your next-door neighbor or relative.
Though in the past, the AIDS scare is not gone. We Make the Change reminds the viewer we need to remain vigilant in prevention to prevent the major spread of this virus again.