July 29, 2014

Krista Blake: Teenage HIV Victim



No one can be left behind if the AIDS epidemic is to come to an end by 2030. This was one of the main messages of the 20th International AIDS Conference, which closed in Melbourne, Australia, on 25 July (2014).*

The publicity for the conference was increased, unfortunately, by an airline crash that killed 6 participants. Organizers of the conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, determined not to cancel the event because they felt continuing would be what the victims would have wanted.

Reading about the conference brought back memories of a young woman with AIDS. The Family Support Group (FSP) of Jamestown, Pennsylvania, invited her to speak to community members on September 30, 1992. In light of the Melbourne conference I thought it appropriate to retell her story, which is still relevant today.


Krista, who contracted the AIDS virus at age 16, learned she was HIV positive at age 18. In January 1992 Krista spoke at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania. Margaret Young, an FSP board member, and I attended the event, at which a vibrant, capable speaker presided. In April, when speaking at Edinboro State College (PA), she was described as “gutsy, independent, funny…and she’s been given a virtual death sentence.”**

When the Ohio woman arrived in Jamestown September 30th Margaret noted “how downhill Krista had gone.” We saw that her health had deteriorated to the point that, as head of the FSP, I debated whether to even allow her to speak. She had trouble breathing and she had to struggle to get every word out.

It was difficult to stop Krista from speaking, even though her sister was present and knew what she wanted to say. However, I felt that Krista was due the respect of making the decision on what she could handle, even if she was tired and had a headache.

Krista was so unable to sit still during the presentation that she “unnerved” Margaret. She not only struggled with her words, at times she struggled with her thoughts. As she spoke, her sister had to answer many questions for her.

world_aids_day_special_poster-rf5f9f38e9e654de38cc1b2da8dc2586c_wjc_8byvr_324“I do pretty much the same things anyone else does. Maybe slower, maybe different,” she began. “But a couple of things have changed. I can’t


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