It was in 1994. I was having a great time being a young, gay man in the city. I really wanted to do something in health for LGBTQ people. I started working on the AIDS quilt. And I remember the day where everyone started to come to the quilt to look at it and I saw people who loved folks who were memorializing the quilt. I saw them touching it. I saw them crying. I saw them, themselves not being healthy and I decided on that day, oh God, I decided that that shouldn’t happen again. So, I decided then that I was going to do HIV care. I get emotional not because I’m sad, but because I can’t believe how different the story is. No one ever has to get sick. The only way to change stigma is to talk honestly about HIV, have open conversations. All the doctors in Ask The HIV Doc, we have been you, we are you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not beautiful and that your life isn’t worth something. Because it is. It’s worth so much to me, it should be worth so much to you.
Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH, is CDC’s Director of the Division of HIV Prevention in the National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. He has been a career-long physician activist in the area of HIV treatment and prevention, with a focus on LGBT communities.
“I still get emotional talking about the early days of the AIDS epidemic not because I’m sad, but because I can’t believe how different the story is today. No one ever has to get sick.” – Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH
As Dr. Demetre says, the only way to change stigma is to talk openly and honestly about HIV testing, prevention and treatment, with healthcare providers, partners, friends, and communities.
#AskTheHIVDoc is a video series from Greater Than AIDS featuring top HIV doctors providing answers to commonly-asked questions about HIV prevention, testing and treatment.
This information is shared for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. The views expressed are those of the featured medical professional and reflect information available to that professional at time of filming. Always consult a health care provider for any personal health decision.
While we make every effort to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information reflects the most up-to-date research. Also, please note the views expressed by individuals who appear in Greater Than AIDS videos and other content are their own and are not made on behalf of any groups/organizations/associations.