4 Things to Know on World AIDS Day

The name Jeff Schmalz, for one
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2015 5:00 PM CST
4 Things to Know on World AIDS Day
Red ribbons hang from Alcala's door, one of Madrid's main monuments, to mark World AIDS Day in Madrid, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.   (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

Today marks World AIDS Day, and there's no shortage of fascinating, hopeful, and dour pieces to read. The four things we found most interesting to know:

  1. America remains "in danger of losing the war on AIDS." That opinion belongs to CDC Director Thomas Frieden. He makes his case in the New England Journal of Medicine today, but the New York Times' reporting of it is the piece to read. Sample: "While the article's language was dry and academic, some AIDS experts said it amounted to a call for radical changes ... [that] can be made only by state and local health departments, over which the CDC has little control."

  1. The name Jeff Schmalz. The "journalistic prodigy" was a New York Times reporter who, as KERA's headline puts it, "reported on AIDS while he fought the disease." He died in 1993, having learned about his diagnosis after having a seizure while in the newsroom on Dec. 21, 1990. "His reporting helped transform coverage of AIDS." More on Schmalz here and here.
  2. Oscar Villareal's experience: He's one of two dozen people featured in the new book Tomorrow Is a Long Time: Tijuana’s Unchecked HIV/AIDS Epidemic, but for those looking for an abbreviated version, Slate shares the sex worker's story (with photos). During his days he lived as "Beto, a gay man who cruised the park. At night he became a transgender woman, Alessandra, Alé for short." The piece by book author Jon Cohen "shows the challenges of ending the AIDS epidemic."
  3. "Everyone laughed." So writes Slate of an Oct. 15, 1982, exchange in which White House Press Secretary Larry Speakes was asked about AIDS. Speakes was unfamiliar with it, and reporter Lester Kinsolving told him it was referred to as the "gay plague." The laughter erupted, and continued. A documentary short that captures the exchange debuted today on Vanity Fair. The 7.5-minute When AIDS Was Funny contains audio from two other press conferences.
(More AIDS stories.)

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