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AIDS is still with us, still taking too many lives.

Notwithstanding wonderful treatment advances, HIV/AIDS still kills surprising numbers of Americans every year. It’s hard to be too precise here, since people living with HIV and AIDS can die of other causes. Since the epidemic began, more than 600,000 Americans have died after being diagnosed with AIDS. In 2009, there were another 18,000 estimated deaths of persons with AIDS diagnoses across the United States.* To put this in context, about 9,100 Americans died in gun homicides that same year. The annual AIDS death toll continues to rival the annual toll of American combat deaths during the worst years in Vietnam.

Final Interview with Spencer Cox conducted by David France for “How To Survive A Plague”.

Spencer Cox, a star figure in “How to Survive a Plague” and a hero to many, died this morning. He was just 44 years old. As an AIDS activist, he helped spearhead research on protease inhibitors and played a central role in bringing the drugs to market — and saving 8 million lives. Over the years, he was a frequent and always brilliant source of mine, and a good friend.

In an outtake from my last interview with him, he describes what lessons he took away from the plague:

"What I learned from that is that miracles are possible. Miracles happen, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I wouldn’t trade that information for anything. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what’d going to happen day to day. I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. I just now, you keep going. You keep evolving and you keep progressing, you keep hoping until you die. Which is going to happen someday. You live your life as meaningful as you can make it. You live it and don’t be afraid of who is going to like you or are you being appropriate. You worry about being kind. You worry about being generous. And if it’s not about that what the hell’s it about?"

- David France, 12/18/12

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