December 2, 2008
by TYCHE HENDRICKS
San Francisco Chronicle
Bundled up against the chilly fog of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, a couple of hundred people gathered today among the redwood trees of the National AIDS Memorial Grove to commemorate World AIDS Day.
Many of them are veterans of the 25-year battle to gain medical treatment and public acceptance for people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, a campaign with deep roots in San Francisco.
They celebrated successes - especially the medical breakthroughs that now allow HIV-positive people to live healthier lives. But they also urged extending those advances to other parts of the country and the rest of the world, where people with AIDS still struggle.
Berkeley Rev. Jim Mitulski described a visit to an orphanage in Zimbabwe for children who lost their parents to AIDS. Most of the children were themselves infected with the virus, and all were familiar with the frequent funerals in the cemetery, where small white crosses marked the graves of infants and children.
"These children have all died of a disease we have medication for, medication we fought in the streets for," said Mitulski, who was pastor of San Francisco's gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church from 1985 to 2000. "These children are dying needlessly because nobody can figure out how to make a profit off their bodies."
For more information on Tides Center project National AIDS Memorial Grove, see www.aidsmemorial.org.