For some, the dawn of AIDS seems a lifetime ago. In reality, it has been 30 million lifetimes ago.
HBO’s documentary “The Battle of amfAR,” airing Monday, Dec. 2 – the day after World AIDS Day – reminds us how this pandemic seemed to come out of nowhere 30 years ago and kill an estimated 30 million.
The film traces how two very different women, Elizabeth Taylor and Dr. Mathilde Krim, created the American Foundation for AIDS Research, an international nonprofit dedicated to AIDS research, HIV prevention and advocacy of humane public policy regarding the disease.
Cole, the designer who has long promoted socially significant messages, has been involved with amfAR since it began. After Taylor’s death nearly two years ago, “it became clear this story about these two dynamic women should be told,” he says.
The two brought together different worlds: entertainment and science. Both had political connections, and both women worked tirelessly to eradicate AIDS.
Still, many people don’t know the history of this disease that wasted healthy people with shocking and fatal speed.
“We are still in crisis,” Cole says. “AIDS is a manageable, chronic reality but only to the few who have access to the care and diagnosis. And there are many, many millions who don’t, and we need to still focus on it. And I believe the solution is near at hand, and we have the ability to make this our legacy. And this next generation can be AIDS-free if the current administration and we provide the resources and put this behind us.”
“People should not contract the virus,” Cole says. “We know how to contain it. As long as we are conscious of it and have access to whatever resources … people should be able to protect themselves as long as they submit to be tested and they take whatever treatments are deemed appropriate.”