In the 13th Year of the AIDS epidemic, 32,914 people — from July ’94 through June ’95 — died from the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, to date, more than 300,000 people have died in the U.S. alone—a number greater than the population of Tampa. The figures are staggering, and yet, like casualty reports from a far-off war, they have taken on an abstract quality. ”Burn-out and despair have set in,” says Jay Blotcher of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. ”World War II was only six years. This is battle fatigue of momentous proportions.”
Perhaps in defiance of the nation’s weariness, Hollywood has focused its attention on the virus, working AIDS into a variety of projects. In 1995, both Warner Bros. and Universal Studios, respectively, released the AIDS-themed films Boys on the Side and The Cure; and interestingly, neither studio felt the need to trumpet its film as a ”message movie” in its ad campaign. Spearhead released the single ”Positive,” a song about the anxiety of taking an HIV test. On ABC’s General Hospital, two teenage characters tested positive for HIV. Though one character remains asymptomatic, the other died Nov. 29.
Again this year, in conjunction with World AIDS Day and the 7th Annual Day Without Art, Entertainment Weekly publishes this tribute to members of the entertainment industry lost to the virus in the last year. We present these 120 faces to you with the hope that you look past the numbers and see instead what’s been lost with each passing.
— Casey Davidson, with additional reporting by Louis Vogel. Photo research by Polly Evans, Robert Laurita, and Zoe Moffitt