California: More Survive, But It's "No Way to Live"
June 22, 2011
Three decades ago, Dr. Michael Gottlieb, an immunologist at the University of California-Los Angeles, and the late Dr. Joel Weisman of Sherman Oaks were the first to report a rare form of pneumonia among five area gay men, identifying a condition that would become known as AIDS.
"I had no idea that five cases would later turn into 25 million deaths worldwide," said Gottlieb.
The early years of the epidemic were "a sad time," Gottlieb recalled. "I remember when Sherman Oaks Hospital became a hospice. I remember handsome men whose faces had been disfigured by Kaposi's sarcoma."
Paul Bedard has been living with HIV for nearly 30 years. But the West Hollywood painter takes 42 pills a day, and the physical and mental side effects from treatment can seem overwhelming. "Sometimes I think, 'This is no way to live,'" he said. "It's been a challenge."
Bedard said he is angered by the perception among young people that the disease is easily treatable. "I talk to young people who go to the sex clubs and they don't protect themselves. I tell them, 'Don't be foolish. It's still a death sentence.' But when you're dealing with the young, they don't think about death," said Bedard, who has had two heart attacks, undergone seven angioplasties, experienced kidney failure, and lives with diabetes.
According to Gottlieb, the growing number of infections among black and Latino communities, and youths' ignorance of the facts about HIV/AIDS, show there is much work to do. "I understand after 30 years there's going to be passion fatigue in the public for HIV/AIDS, but it's foolish for the public to put it on the back burner," he said. "We don't hear about HIV/AIDS anymore except for on anniversaries."
Daily News of Los Angeles
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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