by David Waggoner
Now more than ever giving is back in the spotlight. Take our 18th Annual Holiday Gift Giving Guide , where we highlight some of the AIDS service organizations from coast to coast as well as in the heartland that are celebrating the holidays with bright, cutting-edge, creative and holiday-inspired gifts that help raise money as well as awareness. They are representative of the thousands of ASOs and other nonprofits that are promoting their own localized gifts of compassion and resilience. Their own unique ways to give back to the HIV community are awe-inspiring and fun to open one’s wallet or pocketbook for. The act of buying has never been so self-satisfying and selfless all at once. In fact more money has been raised through local fundraising efforts combined than all the federal dollars voted into existence from decades of the Ryan White initiative.
Helping those impacted by AIDS has always been a personal effort——from Elizabeth Taylor to Elton John, to Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury, the “bold names” have always kept the cause in the spotlight. But that’s not surprising. Hence the ease for us when we do an interview ask from the hundreds of A-list celebs who have told us why they’ve wanted to be featured on the cover of A&U. Lending their famous names to the cause means that they are not afraid to give their perspective on why it is important for them to help destigmatze the disease that still kills too many around the world. That is why we are also featuring the “stars” of the documentary film, 5B, directed by award-winning filmmakers Dan Krauss (The Kill Team) and Paul Haggis (Crash). Icons of compassionate care include nurses like Cliff Morrison, Alison Moed, Guy Vanderberg, and advocates like long-term survivor Harry Breaux. As evidenced in an exclusive interview with A&U’s own Hank Trout, Senior Editor, and exquisitely photographed by Michael Kerner, the nurses from Ward 5B were some of the first caregivers on the front lines to take off their hospital gowns and masks to apply the human touch to the earliest sick in the American part of the emerging international AIDS pandemic. Even before the known route of transmission, these homegrown Florence Nightingales put their desperately sick patients first, never flinching in the face of social ostracization.
“We had the opportunity there to create together a model of care for AIDS patients that crossed disciplines to provide acceptance, inclusion of loved ones, advocacy, education, and state-of-the-art care, as well as coordination with community resources to ensure planning so that patients would have follow-up and support when discharged. 5B/5A truly was a labor of love. I was proud to be a nurse there and always will be,” says Alison Moed in the interview.
In this issue, we also feature other healthcare workers who made a positive difference in patients’ lives. Senior Editor Dann Dulin interviews Nancy Auster, who worked as a hospice nurse attending to people living with HIV/AIDS, and Fiction Editor Raymond Luczak interviews Andrew Faulk, MD, about his own experiences living with HIV and also working in the trenches. This month’s Gallery also features icons of the House/Ball Community in New York City, who teamed up with Visual AIDS to help produce Play Smart sexual health trading cards.
Join us in celebrating those who keep compassion alive, not just in theory but in practice!
David Waggoner is Editor in Chief and Publisher of A&U, the first national HIV/AIDS magazine in the U.S.