By Nyesha Stone
It’s Saturday night and its cold outside, so you might be staying in. If that’s the case, then you have time to watch the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Library, Archives’ the Oral History Interviews of the Wisconsin HIV/AIDS History Project digital collection, which was released today. Today is also World AIDS day, so it only gives you even more reason to watch.
The project contains 23 interviews of different individuals discussing their connection or experience with HIV/AIDS. It’s about 23 hours of footage that brings awareness to the stigma associated with AIDS. Abigail Nye, Interim Head of UWM Libraries’ Archives, says she hopes those who watch the interviews have a better understanding of the history of the disease.
Back in the 80’s, there wasn’t much known about AIDS, they just knew it was transmittable, which meant no one wanted to be near someone who had it. What they didn’t understand was that it is a sexually transmitted disease. This means that when someone was suffering from the disease and needed help, even the doctors and nurses didn’t want to get near the individual because of the fear of being infected.
But there were individuals who went against society and helped those with AIDS.
“It’s really powerful,” Nye said about the interviews. “You really learn so much you didn’t know.”
For those who don’t have the time to watch all of the interviews, a 17-minute video combining all of the interviews is another option. The project is available starting today.
According to Nye, when people discuss AIDS they tend to talk about the East or West coast, but tend to forget that the Midwest is experiencing it’s own issues with the disease and has unique ways of address and treating it.
Mike Gifford, President and CEO of AIDS Research Center of Wisconsin, and an interviewee of the project, said the stigma attached to AIDS is unexplainable.
“The power and the strength of the stigma is something that I don’t think any of us can really understand unless we’ve experienced it first hand,” said Gifford.
According to a press release, the collection has interviews with physicians, nurses, social service workers, AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) staff, and long-time survivors.
To watch the Oral History Interviews of the Wisconsin HIV/AIDS History Project digital collection visit https://uwm.edu/lib-collections/wisconsin-hiv-aids-history-project/