Scroll To Top

This Instagram Account is Preserving the Legacy of the AIDS Epidemic


Each post is about someone we lost to AIDS, and in the description is a heart touching story about their contribution to the world. 


In a world that is beginning to lose their hope in humanity (and social media), one Instagram account is reigniting the flame. 

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly thirty years since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Two generations were lost: men and women who could have taught our young people something about life. The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) is honoring those we lost by sharing images of them and adding an anecdote about their lives and what they contributed.

Take a look at some of their posts:


"Springtime #Boston 1985, I was 25 and going to school at #Emerson & working various part time jobs. I came home to find my lover & partner sitting on the steps, with his face in his hands sobbing. I had an uneasy feeling what he was about to tell me. He lifted his head and sobbed that he had indeed he was infected with #HIV. All I could do was hold him, cry together and try to reassure him that somehow we would make it. He confessed, that much of his grief was not only about the terror of losing his life, which he did 6 years later, but also about his fear that he had infected me. I waited all of 9 months to a year to get the courage to get tested. I will never forget the moment the MD told me the news about my infection ... #JudyCollins was on the radio singing #SendintheClowns...that song will always be profoundly memorable for me, as if it wasn't already. After the initial shock, horror & depression subsided at 26, I made a vow to live as deeply, purely and passionately as possible with whatever time I had left. I returned to my calling as a #VisualArtist. I was open about my status & became vocal & vigilant at every turn, for ways that we could work as a community of artists and #HIVpositive people, to fight the stigma, shame, misinformation, prejudice, exclusion & negligence we faced. I had my first solo exhibition in a gallery one year after my diagnosis and devoted the exhibition to the philosophical and spiritual ideas & imagery of personal transformation. I can say that after the first couple of years of my infection I began to find ways to frame #HIV as a "blessing" buried in the "beast" of this illness and as a catalyst for growth. There have been many long, lean, hard times, as well as some glorious & peak passages during this 31 year odyssey of both living #HIVpositive & as a working artist. Today at 57 my passion for spiritual focus & living the authentic life of artistry has never been greater!" - by Karlton Johnson #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #neverforget #endaids #karltonjohnsonfineart #inspiredlivingmhs

A photo posted by The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) on


#BobbiCampbell (January 28, 1952 – August 15, 1984) was a public health nurse and an early #AIDSactivist. In Sep 1981, Campbell became the 16th person in #SanFrancisco to be diagnosed with #Kaposissarcoma (KS). He was the first to come out publicly as a person living with what was to become known as #AIDS. Starting with a case of shingles in Feb 1981, Campbell suffered a succession of illnesses including #leukopenia. After hiking with his boyfriend in September that year, he noticed on his feet lesions of KS and was formally diagnosed as having it by dermatologist #MarcusConant on Oct 8, 1981 in what would become Conant's first diagnosis of a patient with AIDS; Campbell brought Conant a rose every year to commemorate the anniversary of his diagnosis. While the #NewYorkNative was printing several stories about the #gaycancer beginning to make its way round the city, with detailed medical writing by Dr #LawrenceD.Mass, the #SanFrancisco #gaypress largely ignored the epidemic. Campbell's interest in educational outreach and professional interest in gay sexual health combined to inspire him to raise awareness himself. Campbell joined the #SistersofPerpetualIndulgence in early 1982 and co-authored the first San Francisco safer sex manual. At noon on August 15, 1984 and after 2 days on life support iCampbell died at #SanFranciscoGeneralHospital when his blood His parents and partner #BobbyHilliard were by his side. Campbell was 32 years old and had lived for over 3½ years with AIDS. 2 days later, #Castro #Street was closed as 1,000s of people turned out to mourn Campbell and celebrate his life. #whatisremembered #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

A photo posted by The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) on


#DennisPosa, aka #DennisParker, better known by his performance name of #WadeNichols (October 28, 1946 – January 28, 1985) was an actor and singer who started his career in adult film. Nichols was born in #Manhattan, #NewYork and raised in #Freeport, New York. He attended the #PhiladelphiaMuseumCollegeofArt, studying Pottery and Design. While attending, he won a role in a touring company production of #TheTrojanWomen. He later attended #NewYorkUniversity and the #HerbertBerghof Studio, where he studied Acting. Nichols' first feature film role was in gay adult film but appeared mostly in straight adult films such as #BarbaraBroadcast. Posa was credited as Wade Nichols in most of the adult films in which he appeared. In 1979, using the name Dennis Parker, he recorded a disco album on #CasablancaRecords entitled #LikeanEagle. The album was produced by #VillagePeople creator/producer #JacquesMorali. He also toured Europe to promote the album. He later appeared in the French film Monique that same year, with Like an Eagle being used as it's theme song. The title track was released as a single and appears on the box set The Casablanca Records Story (1994). Posa (still as Dennis Parker) joined the cast of the soap opera #TheEdgeofNight in 1979, as Police Chief #DerekMallory. Seriously ill by October 1984, Posa was unable to continue working on The Edge of Night, and his character was written out of the show. The show was cancelled months later. Nichols died January 28, 1985. In a tribute to Posa in a 1985 issue of #SoapOperaDigest, fellow Edge of Night actor #ErnieTownsend wrote, "He died in early January after a long and painful illness that took away a talent in its prime." An obituary released in Virginia stated that he died after a "brief illness, survived by his mother, brother, and partner." #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

A photo posted by The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) on


#SteveMerritt (January 17, 1945 – January 26, 1993) was an American dancer and #choreographer who died in #LosAngeles. He was 48. The cause was #AIDS. Merritt began his career in the late 1960's choreographing opening acts for #SammyDavisJr. He later worked with many stars, including #PetulaClark, #TomJones, #LizaMinnelli and #PiaZadora. Together with Nancy and #RonnieHorowitz and Mark Donnelly, Merritt created the musical #DreamStreet, which played in #LasVegas from 1983 to 1987. Merritt and Donnelly also conceived the #Broadway-style format for the #Chippendales show. In 1989 Merritt choreographed the opening number of the #61stAcademyAwards presentation. Merritt was born in #SanJose, #California, in 1945. He moved to #LosAngeles in the mid-1960s and studied dance under #DavidWinter while working as a dancer on a local TV show called The Farmer John Dance Show. He created the #SolidGoldDancers and performed on #CaseyKasem's weekly #TopFortyCountdown television show. #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

A photo posted by The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) on


".....David Burns.....He was my best friend. We met dancing on a platform one night at #BostonBoston when we were 17. We spent the rest of the night rolling each other around the Fenway in a shopping cart with a boom box and didn’t leave each others side for the next several years. I moved to #NYC that fall and he came several months later, it was 1979. We had amazing adventures and spoke a language I’ve never had with anyone else. He died in 1993 and I miss him more than I can say, but he left me a wonderful legacy: many of the people I love and admire most I met through David so I would just like to say, Thank you David, I love you" - by Nora Burns #davidsfriend #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

A photo posted by The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) on

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

David Artavia