Monday, January 02, 2017

NYT: Who Originated the Term 'People With AIDS'?

Important HIV and gay history was shared that greatly sheds light on an key matter from the early AIDS plague years. The lead letter in the New York Times Book Review on December 12 delved into who originated the term people with AIDS.

I've communicated my gratitude to Michael Helquist, the author of the letter, and am pleased to report his response edified me. Nice to connect with a fellow longterm survivor of AIDS, committed to keeping our history honest and honoring our dead.

Thanks, Michael, for getting this letter published in the Gray Lady:

‘People With AIDS’

To the Editor: Andrew Sullivan’s review of “How to Survive a Plague,” by David France (Nov. 27), credits Michael Callen with pioneering the empowering idea that individuals with AIDS were neither victims nor patients but rather “people with AIDS.” But this overlooks the contribution of Mark Feldman, who originated the term.

One of the first 50 to be diagnosed with AIDS in San Francisco, Feldman addressed 10,000 marchers in San Francisco’s first AIDS Memorial March on May 2, 1983: “I am a person with AIDS, a person with AIDS, a human being, not a victim and only a patient when I am in a hospital.”

A month later, at an AIDS conference in Denver, Callen noted Feldman’s and others’ efforts in New York to be called “patients” rather than “victims.” He added, “This has been a challenge to not call ourselves patients either.” “People with AIDS” was adopted by attendees.

After the conference, Callen championed the People With AIDS movement that he had embraced a month after Feldman coined the term.


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