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Decades Later, the Coping Continues

Decades Later, the Coping Continues


The Advocate explored how an overwhelmed gay community was coping with the AIDS crisis in the '80s. For activists today, the story is much different.

By February 17, 1983, the date the photo below appeared on the cover of The Advocate, what was originally called "gay cancer" had morphed into a full-blown health crisis known as AIDS. Larry Bush, The Advocate's then-Washington editor, and contributor Nathan Fain did a series of articles called "Coping With a Crisis," which looked at whether the onslaught of acquired immune deficiency syndrome signaled the end of sexual freedom, whether there were lessons to be learned in "this avalanche of pain and fear," and what scientists, doctors, politicians, and activists were doing about it all. The Advocate would go on to have some of the most comprehensive reporting on the epidemic. In the third in a series of re-creations of photos from The Advocate's archives, we've brought together three AIDS activists. Pictured above, from left, are four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, actress and TV host Janora McDuffie, and firebrand Chris Richey. Louganis, 52, has been HIV-positive for 24 years, many of them while remaining a competitive diver. Today, he mentors the U.S. diving team competing in the upcoming Olympics, runs Camp Satori, and has founded the Greg Louganis Positively Pet Fund, which helps people with HIV/AIDS in North Carolina with their pet needs. Bisexual actress McDuffie, 34, plays Janet on Grey's Anatomy, hosts NoMoreDownLow.TV, and will speak at the upcoming AIDS Life/Cycle kickoff event (she was a rider last year). Richey, 26, is president of the Stigma Project (, which he founded after his HIV diagnosis reminded him how much stigma is still attached to being positive, even decades after this infamous Advocate cover story. He hopes HIV will soon be treated like any other manageable condition, such as diabetes.

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