For me, the past couple of days have been incredibly emotional. Witnessing firsthand the incredible social, political, and technological advances we have made over the course of this pandemic has led me to reflect on the course of this virus, and the people, families, and communities it has left in its wake. The past few days have particularly reminded me of my friend David, the first good friend I personally lost to the virus.
David was GORGEOUS. And gorgeous in every way. He was smart, charismatic, physically beautiful- He was the kind of guy who walked into a room and immediately made everyone happier. He was the life of the party- he made everyone feel special, welcome, and important. As an international DJ, travelling following the scene, we only saw each other every couple of months, but he just brought so much light and love every time he was around.
David had a fantastic boyfriend in town, but their relationship was open, and he slept with a number of people every time he visited. But there was not a single person that he ever slept with who didn’t have anything but positive things to say about him. He made any partner feel special, and treated everyone with so much respect that people couldn’t help but trust him and love him.
David got pneumonia about 6 weeks before he passed away. In South America, where we were living, it was normal for a person to get pneumonia but David faded so quickly. He didn’t even take an HIV test until his last month of life, his doctors fully knowing that being aware of his status wouldn’t impact his condition (he wouldn’t have access to medication, so knowing his HIV status was more for the sake of his partner’s health than his own). David died quickly and silently, not wanting to burden anyone with his passing.
We would have all wanted to be with him, but as always he was more worried about everyone else’s comfort than his own. I loved David because he was the kind of person I wanted to be and he made me more confident to be myself.
This blog post is in memory of David. And of everyone else who has passed from HIV. We have lost some of the world’s brightest people, and this conference reminds us that they are not forgotten. As we as a community tirelessly work to advance the rights of people living with and affected by HIV (work that has been highlighted during IAC 2012), we must remember the pandemic’s history. It is for this purpose that I share David’s story, and hope anyone reading this blog take a second to remember the people they also loved and lost too soon.