The National AIDS Memorial and the HIV Story Project launched a multi-year oral history project in 2015 titled ‘Surviving Voices’. The purpose of this collaboration was to ensure that stories and lessons of the AIDS epidemic are captured, curated, and retained for future generations. Although steeped in tragedy and prejudice, the story of AIDS is rich in relentless determination, and powerful in its success. It is a story with abundant lessons for current and future generations as they confront their own social justice challenges. The AIDS story, from the first recognized cases in 1981 to now, is a story of communities, consciousness raising, hope and determination. Through decades of denial and avoidance by government and society to the anxious realization that the epidemic was out of control, communities gained their voices, expressed their outrage, and took action. It is a story that will empower communities for generations to come, and the Grove will ensure that it is told with dignity and accuracy.
With Quest Diagnostics’ generous support as our Silver Anniversary Angel Partner, the 23rd annual World AIDS Day National Observance was held on December 1st. Jeanne White-Ginder, AIDS activist and mother of the late Ryan White, accepted the Thom Weyand Unsung Hero Award this year on behalf of the national Hemophilia Community, 50% of which perished between 1980 – 2010 due to a tainted blood supply. The Hemophilia Community is owed an enormous debt of gratitude for its (unintended) role in alerting the country to the contamination of the blood supply from the 1970s through the 1990s. Faced with evidence that pharmaceutical companies and government regulators knew that the treatment for their disorder was contaminated, they launched a powerful and inspiring fight to right the system that failed them and make it safer for all, and have stood as guardians of the nation’s blood supply since that time.
Surviving Voices focused this year on the Hemophilia Community, and the tragedy and loss caused by the tainted blood supply. The videos premiered on World AIDS Day, and are available below. Following the observance, the first-ever “Powering Through” panel discussion was held, bringing together leaders in the national Hemophilia Community to discuss the need for a feature in the National AIDS Memorial to commemorate those infected by the blood contamination crisis and the ongoing processing of healing from the disaster.