Duane has made it a life mission to help bring an end to HIV/AIDS with the talents and skills that he has been given. His family has been closely impacted by HIV, including his own diagnosis over 20 years ago, and he is speaking out about the importance of having open and honest conversations about HIV, even though they have not always been easy.
My name is Duane Kramer. I live in San Francisco, California and I am a photographer and director. I’ve also done a lot of activist work in the LGBT community and have made it really my life mission to do everything I can to help bring an end to HIV with the talents and skills that I’ve been given.
My father died of AIDS 24 years ago and I too have been living with HIV for 16 years.
In 1986, when my father passed away, the only people that were dying were either white gay men or drug addicts. And my father was a black man, you know, married to a woman with three beautiful children. So we were really petrified and scared, had a lot of shame and told people that he died of cancer for many years. So obviously AIDS has had a tremendous impact on my family and many of my friends. I actually had a partner for five years who was HIV-positive. I was negative. Right after we broke up, I had unprotected sex with somebody that was HIV-positive and that’s when I contracted HIV. I made a quick decision in the heat of the moment to have unprotected sex and as a result, I became HIV positive. There have been challenges, at times, you know early on with my disclosure with being open and honest but on the other hand, I think it’s important for people to have honest conversations with their partners, to be honest first with themselves and not to be afraid if you are a man or a woman in a relationship or in a situation where you’re about to be intimate with somebody to just say, “Hey tell me about your sexual history. Have you been tested for HIV?” Life is short and you know let’s, let’s live, let’s live healthy, and let’s play safe.