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Blindspot

HIV and AIDS changed the United States and the world. In this series, we reveal untold stories from the defining years of the epidemic, and we’ll consider: How could some of the pain have been avoided? Most crucial of all, what lessons can we still learn from it today? Blindspot is a co-production of The HISTORYⓇ Channel and WNYC Studios.

'Women Don’t Get AIDS, They Just Die From It'

Blindspot

  • 460 views
  • 5 months ago
  • 46:04

From the very earliest days of the epidemic, women got infected with HIV and died from AIDS — just like men. But from the earliest days, this undeniable fact was largely ignored — by the public, the government and even the medical establishment. The consequences of this blindspot were profound. Many women didn’t know they could get HIV.But in the late 1980s, something remarkable happened. At a maximum security prison in upstate New York, a group of women came together to fight the terror and stigma that was swirling in the prison as more and more women got sick with HIV and AIDS. Katrina Haslip was one of them. An observant Muslim and former sex worker, she helped found and create AIDS Counseling and Education (ACE), one of the country’s first HIV and AIDS organizations for women. And when she got out of prison, she kept up the work: she joined forces with women activists on the outside to be seen, heard and treated with dignity. This is her story — and the story of scores of women like her who fought to change the very definition of AIDS.Voices in this episode include:• Katrina Haslip was an AIDS activist who was born in Niagara Falls, New York. She spent five years at the Bedford Hills Correctional Center, during which time she served as a prison law librarian and helped found the organization AIDS Counseling and Education (ACE). After her release in 1990, she continued her advocacy through ACE-Out, an organization she formed to support women leaving prison, as well as ACT UP and other organizations.• Judith Clark spent 37 years in prison for her role in the October 1981 Brink’s robbery. In prison, she helped found AIDS Counseling and Education (ACE), along with other programs to support and counsel women. Since her release in 2019, she has continued to work on behalf of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women.• Maxine Wolfe was a member of the women’s committee of ACT UP. Wolfe is an American author, scholar and activist for AIDS, civil rights, lesbian rights and reproductive rights. She is a co-founder of the Lesbian Avengers, a coordinator at the Lesbian Herstory Archives, and a member of Queer Nation. Wolfe is currently professor emerita of women's and gender studies at the Graduate Center, CUNY.• Terry McGovern is a lawyer and senior associate dean for academic and student affairs in the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. In 1989, McGovern founded the HIV Law Project and served as the executive director until 1999. Her successful lawsuit against the Social Security Administration enabled scores of women with AIDS to receive government benefits.• Dr. Kathy Anastos is a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Anastos’s work advances HIV and AIDS research and treatment, both globally and in the Bronx. She has been the principal investigator of the New York City/Bronx Consortium of the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) since it was launched in 1993.This episode title comes from a Gran Fury poster. Gran Fury was an artist collective that worked in collaboration with ACT UP and created public art in response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.Resources: "The Invisible Epidemic: The Story of Women And AIDS" by Gena Corea.Blindspot is a co-production of The HISTORY® Channel and WNYC Studios, in collaboration with The Nation Magazine.A companion photography exhibit by Kia LaBeija featuring portraits from the series is on view through March 11 at The Greene Space at WNYC. The photography for Blindspot was supported by a grant from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes coverage of social inequality and economic justice.

If I Didn't Have HIV, I Wouldn't Have Met You

Blindspot

  • 520 views
  • 5 months ago
  • 39:53

It’s the 1980s — Harlem, USA — and the 17th floor of the area’s struggling public hospital is filling up with infants and children who arrive and then never leave. Some spend their whole lives on the pediatric ward, celebrating birthdays, first steps and first words with the nurses and doctors who’ve become their surrogate family. Welcome to Harlem Hospital at the height of the HIV and AIDS epidemics.When the nurses and doctors at this community hospital first began to see infants suffering from an unusual wasting disease, they were alarmed. They had heard that a strange new illness was killing gay men, but no one was talking about women and children. Soon, however, it became clear that HIV was sweeping through Harlem, sickening mothers who then passed it — unknowingly — to their kids. As the crisis grew, AIDS turned the pediatrics ward of Harlem Hospital into a makeshift home — and a makeshift family — for kids who were either too sick to go home, or who no longer had families to go home to.Voices in the episode include:• Dr. Margaret Heagarty was a doctor who ran the pediatric department at Harlem Hospital Center for nearly 20 years. She died in 2022. Archival interview with Margaret Heagarty comes from the Columbia Center for Oral History.• Dr. Stephen Nicholas was a pediatrician at Harlem Hospital Center for two decades.• Maxine Frere, a lifelong Harlem resident, is a retired nurse who spent the entirety of her 40-year career at Harlem Hospital Center.• Monica Digrado was a pediatric nurse at Harlem Hospital Center.• Victor Reyes was born at Harlem Hospital Center and spent much of his childhood receiving treatment and care at the hospital’s pediatric AIDS unit.Blindspot is a co-production of The HISTORY® Channel and WNYC Studios, in collaboration with The Nation Magazine.A companion photography exhibit by Kia LaBeija featuring portraits from the series is on view through March 11 at The Greene Space at WNYC. The photography for Blindspot was supported by a grant from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes coverage of social inequality and economic justice.

Mourning in America

Blindspot

  • 410 views
  • 5 months ago
  • 35:50

Valerie Reyes-Jimenez called it “The Monster.” That’s how some people described HIV and AIDS in the 1980s. Valerie thinks as many as 75 people from her block on New York City’s Lower East Side died. They were succumbing to an illness that was not recognized as the same virus that was killing young, white, gay men just across town in the West Village.At the same time, in Washington, D.C., Gil Gerald, a Black LGBTQ+ activist, saw his own friends and colleagues begin to disappear, dying out of sight and largely ignored by the wider world.In our first episode of Blindspot: The Plague in the Shadows, we learn how HIV and AIDS was misunderstood from the start — and how this would shape the reactions of governments, the medical establishment and numerous communities for years to come.Voices in the episode include:• Valerie Reyes-Jimenez is an HIV-positive woman, activist, and organizer with Housing Works. She saw the AIDS crisis develop from a nameless monster into a pandemic from her home on New York City’s Lower East Side.• Dr. Larry Altman was one of the first full-fledged medical doctors to work as a daily newspaper reporter. He started at The New York Times in 1969.• Dr. Anthony Fauci was director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease from 1984 to 2022. Known most recently for his work on Covid-19, Dr. Fauci was also a leading figure in the fight against HIV and AIDS.• Gil Gerald is a Black HIV and AIDS activist and writer, who co-founded the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays.• Phill Wilson is the founder of the Black AIDS Institute, AIDS policy director for the city of Los Angeles at the height of the epidemic, and a celebrated AIDS activist in both the LGBTQ+ and Black communities since the early 1980s.• Dr. Margaret Heagarty ran the pediatrics department of Harlem Hospital Center for 22 years. She died in December 2022.Blindspot is a co-production of The HISTORY® Channel and WNYC Studios, in collaboration with The Nation Magazine.A companion photography exhibit by Kia LaBeija featuring portraits from the series is on view through March 11 at The Greene Space at WNYC. Photography by Kia LaBeija is supported in part by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.