In November 1990 LIFE magazine published a photograph of a young man named David Kirby — his body wasted by AIDS, his gaze locked on something beyond this world — surrounded by anguished family members as he took his last breaths. The haunting image of Kirby on his death bed, taken by a journalism student named Therese Frare, quickly became the one photograph most powerfully identified with the HIV/AIDS epidemic that, by then, had seen millions of people infected (many of them unknowingly) around the globe. More than two decades later, on World AIDS Day, LIFE.com shares the deeply moving story behind that picture, along with Frare’s own memories of those harrowing, transformative years and we share them with you.
Credit: LIFE Magazine
Science has brought the world to the point where the end of AIDS – though not necessarily HIV – is in sight, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
And, she added, “It is science that will allow us to finish this job.”
The job, she has famously said, is to create an “AIDS-free generation” – something that once seemed like a pipe dream and now, after more than 30 years, seems increasingly possible.
In advance of World AIDS Day, Clinton outlined a five-point “blueprint” that she said will guide the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, in the next few years.
Central to the plan, Clinton said, is an emphasis on evidence and science.
“As a scientist, nothing could be more pleasing to me,” commented Myron Cohen, MD, of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Cohen, one of the leaders in recent research that has emphasized the role of treatment in slowing the pandemic, told MedPage Today the blueprint amounts to “doubling down” on what PEPFAR has been doing for the past four years.
It is, he said, “a commitment to what has been evolving.”
PEPFAR is the main U.S. weapon globally against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with outlays of more than $6.6 billion in fiscal 2012 for treatment and prevention of HIV.
It is also, arguably, the most successful U.S. foreign policy initiative in decades.
The new blueprint for U.S. action comes as some of those involved in the global public health efforts are hailing recent progress, including lower rates of infections in newborn children and increasing numbers of people on treatment.
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