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Day After AIDS Day

Dear Kim,

I like your drawing for World AIDS Day. Please tell me more. How did you come up with the people that you depicted? Are they people that you know? Read about? Imagined?

(Kim: We had an AIDS quilt here at school yesterday...so I did the drawing from stuff I saw...not the same names or anything, just the feelings. There was one panel from the grandmother.

I also heard on BBC radio an interview with a kid in Africa who has AIDS. It was quite something.)

There are a lot of children that have been infected with HIV. Can you imagine another drawing that shows generations of people living with AIDS? And also something that spans the globe? That shows its effect in virtually every community. China is now (and finally) announcing that they think they have millions of people affected with the virus.

In the U.S., one of the fastest growing populations to have the virus are heterosexual women who have been infected by their partners.

Could you do another drawing?

(Kim: Do I hate that when you suggest a particular drawing. But don't think you need to stop. I can deal with it.)

World AIDS Day always makes me think back to my early days at the St. Marcus Theatre when we put on some of the earliest performance about AIDS in the country. Our performances were one answer to the question of how we might best call people's attention to the situation and also provide a meaningful space for them to both grieve and be motivated to action.

For years, the visual arts community responded by having A Day Without Art. Do you remember that?

(Kim: Yes, I remember. I did a piece for some exhibit too. I would hate a world that was without art. I was in the art building the other day and said to one of the student workers in my office who happened to be there, "you know, this is my building—it is where I grew up.")

They called attention to the loss by highlighting absence and shrouded art in galleries and museums with black cloths.

It was a shocking visual and I think, very effective. But it was a gesture and really, a kind of performance that worked best in a highly active arts culture. Here, in St. Louis, where the culture was not so active, I chose to speak to the void. To make and produce work that talked about the AIDS crisis.

Now, more than 20 years into this pandemic, it is hard to figure out what is an effective means of communication. People seem overwhelmed by so much information, both trivial and important coming at them. And as most people who deal fundraising for AIDS Service Organizations like St. Louis Effort for AIDS or Doorways, a residential facility for people with AIDS, or Food Outreach, an organization that helps people with AIDS get consistent and good nutrition, it gets harder and harder to keep people interested and committed to the issue.

I will send you some news stories in another email for you to ponder.

Tomorrow, i hope to return to the topic of money on which (surprise, surprise) we do not agree:)

Later,

Joan

Friday, Dec 2, 2005

1:33 PM


The News for Dec 2 . . .

December 1st marks the 18th annual World AIDS Day. AIDS affects every continent, every country. More than 40 million people live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, or with AIDS itself. There were five million new cases this year—more than half were in sub-Saharan Africa and more than half were among young people.

Eighteen years ago, world health ministers decided a global effort would be needed to stop the spread of AIDS. AIDS has claimed the lives of at least 25 million people. And it has touched the lives of many, many more. AIDS has orphaned 15 million children.

The epicenter of the disease continues to be sub-Saharan Africa. That's where two-thirds of all people infected with HIV and AIDS live. But the epidemic continues to grow and is spreading at alarming rates in other areas, according to Peter Piot who heads UNAIDS. "The fastest growth is in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the countries of the former Soviet Union, where the number of people living with HIV has increased 20-fold in less than 10 years."

In countries where condom use and safe sex have been encouraged, new infections have declined.

Where treatment and AIDS education programs are available, the disease is less stigmatized.

HIV and AIDS is still an extraordinary public health challenge according to Dr. Fauci.

"And it's not going in the right direction as a whole. There are some regions and some countries that are doing better this past year, but for the most part, we're still in a very dire situation."

The inescapable fact is as more people are infected with HIV, more people will die of AIDS.

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