Bad Medicine?

From the Editor

Always and Forever, the long-classic summer song of the late 70’s, now a staple of easy listening stations, reminds me of how a long-standing relationship—Harold and mine—only gets better with time. It also reminds me of how an early HIV drug (AZT) has evolved into a powerhouse of new regimens (including injectable HIV drugs), including long-lasting medicine, that are getting us one step closer to a cure. Over the decades, these medications have made it possible for HIV/AIDS, which once was a death sentence, to become a chronic, but manageable disease, and, thus, make possible a treatment miracle.
In the current issue of A&U, Managing Editor Alina Oswald has brought together a cavalcade of stories, some of which touch on the progress that has been made, and the journeys that so many individuals living with the virus have had to take to stay alive. For instance, the miracle treatments of the mid-nineties could save photographer Kurt Weston’s life, but not his eyesight. Yet, that only reinforced his warrior spirit. In this month’s cover story, he shares his journey through the darkness of AIDS and related blindness. “When dealing with life-and-death circumstances, you start to realize what’s important to you and that certain things carry a lot more weight than others,” he says. “And at some point, you want to achieve something that will leave a mark on humanity. Art is a wonderful vehicle [through] which to do that.” Nowadays, Weston continues to use his life’s journey as an ongoing source of inspiration for his art.
Also, in this month’s Gallery article, New Orleans visual artist Grey Cross reemphasizes the importance of medicine in allowing so many individuals to live a long, healthy life. And while HIV is not explicitly spelled out in his work, it “colors” everything that he creates, as an artist.
Also, A&U’s August issue is the summer reading issue, and includes the winning entries of this year’s Christopher Hewitt Awards—Ron Mohring (Poetry), Wendy Biller (Fiction), Brian Farrey-Latz (Drama) and Jon Imparato (Nonfiction)—thus highlighting the many ways women and men alike have dealt—and lived—with a virus that once was life-threatening.
As noted at this year’s 24th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2022) that took place in Montreal, Canada, July 29 – August 2, there are over thirty drugs approved for HIV treatment, stretching over several decades, from AZT (1987) to Cabotegravir (2021), the first approved long-acting injectable antiretroviral. Yet, after billions of dollars spent and millions of dollars raised (by organizations like the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, for example) it often feels like the treatment for HIV and AIDS is still in its infancy. In addition, more work is still needed when it comes to HIV prevention, because somehow the message still doesn’t seem to get through to today’s younger generation. While acknowledging the progress that has been done, many AIDS 2022 scientists also sounded the alarm that “we need to reengage with the HIV response” in order to be able to end the pandemic.