AIDS Activism: More Than a Walk in the Park

It's back—onstage and screen, but not in the streets

Terri Smith-Caronia is employed at Housing Works, an offshoot of ACT UP that agitates for improved housing for people with AIDS. In her 18 years there, she notes, "the ones we can get out on the frontlines and go yell with me are the ones who are hungriest and the homeless. Clients we help to a more comfortable life want to live that comfortable life. Isn't that what we fought for?"

In a telling symbol of the way memories of the Plague Years have faded, the former St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village, the epicenter of early treatment of AIDS patients, is going under the wrecker's ball. Across the street, an AIDS memorial park will arise. The biggest enduring public show of concern about AIDS these days is GMHC's celebrity-studded mass walk in the park.

Young people today grew up with AIDS as a given in their lives. Maybe that explains the rate of new infections among U.S. men ages 13 to 29 who have sex with men increasing by 34 percent and a staggering 48 percent among young black men having sex with men. If those numbers don't shock us into more radical action, we are writing off a generation.

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