This article by David Duran first appeared in TheBody.com here.
Before 2014, there were zero museums dedicated to documenting and remembering the 39 million people worldwide that have died thus far due to AIDS-related causes. That changed on May 15 with the opening of the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center in Wilton Manors, Florida.
"This is the only place dedicated to the 39 million who have died of AIDS," said Ed Sparan, director of the museum. "It's also a place to enlighten, educate and empower."
Sparan hopes the museum will help visitors to think about HIV not just as a part of LGBT history, but human history. "The story of HIV has been part of the LGBT story, but it's so much more than that," Sparan said. "In the past 35 years of HIV/AIDS, 75 million people have been infected, and 39 million people have died of AIDS."
The location of the museum -- in South Florida -- reflects a shift in the center of the epidemic, according to Sparan. "Of all brand new HIV infections in the country each year, Miami/Dade County is #1 on the list, followed by Broward County and Palm Beach County ranking #6 on the list." Though HIV is now considered a chronic manageable disease, Sparan does not think that means people should forget about it or its history. "It is a more treatable disease these days, but everyone needs to be informed," expressed Sparan.
Prominently displayed in the museum is a timeline of the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Under 2014, Truvada (a combination of the antiretrovirals tenofovir and emtricitabine) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is featured as one of the major events. "PrEP was introduced in 2012 but it was not until trials were completed that more news about Truvada as PrEP was released," explained Sparan when asked why the drug wasn't displayed under 2012. "In 2014, it became widely known in the media of all the pros and cons of PEP [post-exposure prophylaxis] and PrEP, and it became a main topic of conversation in the general public," he said
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About the author: David Duran is a freelance journalist and writer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow him on Twitter at @theemuki.