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Heartbreaking Instagram photo shows people are still dying of AIDS in US

Heartbreaking Instagram photo shows people are still dying of AIDS in US

Mason in hospital

With advances in treatment, it’s easy to think that nobody dies of HIV related disease any more. A heartbreaking testimony to The AIDS Memorial social media starkly reveals this not to be true.

The AIDS Memorial runs photos and stories from friends, families and partners of those lost to AIDS. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the stories date back to people lost in the 80s and 90s. However, Amy Christine is a mother who lost her son to HIV-related illness in 2016.

My son Mason

‘My son Mason was 19 years old when he was diagnosed with AIDS and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). His ID DR was able to determine that he probably contracted HIV around the age of 14. Mason later admitted that he knew when — he had met an older man online,’ says Amy.

‘Mason later told his Grandma that he always felt like he had the flu but he never complained. That was Mason . . . sweet, kind, a pleaser. His friends told me that he was always there to cheer them up, the life of the party.

‘He had a contagious laugh and the most beautiful blue eyes. He had a glimmer in his eyes like he knew something the rest of us didn’t. He was smart and funny. He helped his Great-Grandparents with their groceries, mail, and garbage. I remember my little boy with the nicest hands to hold, always a little sweaty.

‘He had three different types of pneumonia’

‘Mason was hospitalized for the last time on February 9, 2016 after he had moved to Las Vegas,’ she continues. ‘He had been there less than a year, hadn’t seen a doctor, and stopped all medication. His CD4 count was 3, he had three different types of pneumonia, his body was covered with Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions.

‘It was later discovered that the lesions had moved into Mason’s tracheobronchial tree and stomach, he was dependent upon life support. He had lost the use of his legs from PML and was slowly losing the use of his arms. He weighed 80 lbs.

‘Mason fought until March 20, 2016. The nurses said he was tenacious. He never complained. Needle stick, after needle stick. Surgery, after surgery. Spending days without visitors because his dad and I couldn’t stay the entire time (we live in KY so we flew back and forth). He never complained.

‘Mason passed on March 21, 2016 at 12:35 in Las Vegas as I read him Harry Potter and his Dad read Twas the Night Before Christmas.

‘Mason still has the nicest hands I’ll ever hold.’

‘Thank you for sharing and for loving your son’

Accompanying the submission are two photos. One of Mason as a healthy-looking teenager.

Mason before he began to fall seriously ill
Mason before he began to fall seriously ill (Photo: @theaidsmemorial
| Instagram)

The other shows him in hospital. He is emaciated and covered in Kaposi Sarcoma lesions. It’s a shocking image, reminiscent of the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

View this post on Instagram

— “My son Mason was 19 years old when he was diagnosed with AIDS and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). His ID DR was able to determine that he probably contracted HIV around the age of 14. Mason later admitted that he knew when —he had met an older man online. . Mason later told his Grandma that he always felt like he had the flu but he never complained. That was Mason . . . sweet, kind, a pleaser. His friends told me that he was always there to cheer them up, the life of the party. He had a contagious laugh and the most beautiful blue eyes. He had a glimmer in his eyes like he knew something the rest of us didn't. He was smart and funny. He helped his Great-Grandparents with their groceries, mail, and garbage. I remember my little boy with the nicest hands to hold, always a little sweaty. . Mason was hospitalized for the last time on February 9, 2016 after he had moved to Las Vegas. He had been there less than a year, hadn't seen a doctor, and stopped all medication. His CD4 count was 3, he had three different types of pneumonia, his body was covered with Kaposi's sarcoma lesions. . It was later discovered that the lesions had moved into Mason’s tracheobronchial tree and stomach, he was dependent upon life support. He had lost the use of his legs from PML and was slowly losing the use of his arms. He weighed 80 lbs. . Mason fought until March 20, 2016. The nurses said he was tenacious. He never complained. Needle stick, after needle stick. Surgery, after surgery. Spending days without visitors because his dad and I couldn't stay the entire time (we live in KY so we flew back and forth). He never complained. . Mason passed on March 21, 2016 at 12:35 in Las Vegas as I read him Harry Potter and his Dad read Twas the Night Before Christmas. . Mason still has the nicest hands I'll ever hold.” — by Amy Christine @amyz72 . #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #endaids #neverforget

A post shared by THE AIDS MEMORIAL (@theaidsmemorial) on

The tribute to Mason has prompted a great amount of social media reaction. Among those to comment is Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy.

‘This one just broke my heart into a million pieces. Thank you for sharing and for loving your son, Amy. Not all who fell victim to the epidemic were so lucky to have family like you beside them.’

If someone with HIV is diagnosed soon after they acquire the virus, and if they receive suitable medication, they can expect to live a long and healthy life. There can be a multitude of reasons why people don’t get tested, or fail to stick to medication regimes.

The founder and curator of The AIDS Memorial told GSN the importance of sharing posts such as this.

‘This post, yet again, highlights the fact people are still dying of AIDS! AIDS isn’t over despite advances in treatment which have transformed HIV from a death sentence to a chronic illness. And there are many reasons why people still die and they’re not always clear cut.

‘It’s complicated especially due to the associated stigma and late diagnosis that can lead to death! Sadly this situation is not going to change anytime soon considering that of the 1.1 million who are HIV positive in the US, 1 in 7 still do not know their status.’

In 2017, approximately 940,000 people died worldwide from AIDS-related illnesses. Of these, 13,000 deaths were in Western and Central Europe and North America.

See also

https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/broadway-performer-hiv-tackle-stigma/

https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/aids-gay-man-final-phone-call/

https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/san-francisco-man-prep-hiv/