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Longtime HIV Advocate Rita Rockett on the Power of Smashing Stigma


In an exclusive clip, Rockett discusses how a simple hug could brighten the day of those living with HIV during the darkest days of the epidemic.

In the early 1980s, stigma ruled when it came to those living with HIV. Many, including members of the media, refused to even step foot into the "AIDS ward" of a hospital. Little was known about the virus then, and fear ruled among the general public.

Despite this though, there were also many who did what they could to dismantle that stigma and show those living with HIV compassion. One such person is Rita Rockett. Rockett began throwing elaborate brunches in 1984 as a way to cheer up a sick friend who was hospitalized in the AIDS ward at San Fransciso General Hospital. It was a tradition she would continue for the next 16 years, even after her friend had passed.

On a recent episode of +Talk, host Karl Schmid has a powerful conversation with Rockett about her time caring for patients who were dying of the virus in the 1980s and '90s. In this exclusive clip, she shares the importance of treating people living with HIV/AIDS with respect:

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