For over 30 years now, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned blood donations from gay and bisexual men. It is a lifetime ban. Currently, no man who has ever had sex with another man can donate blood in the US.
Although the epidemic likely started a decade or two earlier, AIDS wasn't identified as a new disease until 1981. It took a few more years to isolate HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and to develop reliable tests for diagnosing infection.
Equity Fights AIDS was founded in 1987 by the Council of Actors’ Equity Association. The money they raised across the country was used to support The Actors Fund’s AIDS Initiative. Broadway Cares was founded in 1988 by members of The Producer’s Group and the money they raised was awarded to AIDS service organizations, including Equity Fights AIDS.
The two organizations merged in 1992 and continue to fund the social service work of the Actors Fund and award grants to AIDS service organizations nationwide.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' Executive Director, Tom Viola, joins us to tell us more about the history and mission of BC/EFA.
In 1985, Shelby Smoak was diagnosed HIV positive, a fact that he did not learn (by choice) until a few years later. Smoak’s diagnosis is compounded with the fact that he is also hemophiliac.
Set in the 1990s along the North Carolina coast, Bleeder traces Smoak’s quest for love in a world that feels increasingly dangerous, and despite a future that feels increasingly uncertain. From the bedroom to the operating room, and from one hospital to the next, Smoak seeks out hope and better health.
Smoak, a poet and novelist, who now teaches at Northern Virginian Community College in Arlington, has written a memoir of his experiences with both diseases, Bleeder.