Using technology and art, activists are helping to chronicle the life and times of those who died of HIV infection, particularly before the widespread introduction of antiretroviral drugs.

"There is a real hunger for information about this period, this history and these lost lives, said Chris Barlett, a former classics scholar in Philadelphia who has created a social network site about those who have died of AIDS. It is one of a growing number of online outlets for those who want to honor and remember lost friends:

  • www.gayhistory.wikispaces.com. This site was established by Barlett to document the "histories of gay men and their allies in Philadelphia, Pa., USA between 1960 and the present."
  • The ACT UP Oral History Project is a seven-year-old effort to collect and archive recollections from the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. Visit www.actuporalhistory.org.
  • Facebook. Facebook has a "memorialization" mode that allows for the maintenance of accounts on behalf of deceased members, but it limits access to those who were friends at the time of the person's death.
  • www.Tributes.com. This for-profit, well-established site has amassed some 80 million obituaries. Its focus is general, not AIDS-specific.

In addition, retrospectives of the pre-antiretrovirals era are being launched in other media:

  • Harvard University's Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts is displaying materials produced by the New York chapter of ACT UP between 1987 and 1993. "I was shocked when I came to Harvard to discover that no one remembered ACT UP? and that absence of knowledge seemed quite horrible to me," show curator Helen Molesworth said.
  • "Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS" is an anthology published to preserve the legacy of poets such as Tim Diugos, Joe Brainard, and Gil Cuadros.
  • "Last Address," which will debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January, focuses on New York artists who died of AIDS, including photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and playwright Charles Ludlam.