Jon Fryman, an accomplished Los Angeles–based artist, died on October 27, 1997, at the age of 46. He was best-known for the paintings in which he turned friends who lived with HIV into angels. “It’s a way of always keeping them with me,” he said. “It’s a way to escape the whole thing. With their wings, they can fly away, and do so with dignity.” Fryman’s artwork appeared in the feature films Red Ribbon Blues and Touch Me. Most recently, his work was included in the fall 1997 Art Walk at the Brewery, an artist’s colony in California. Fryman was educated at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, Chico State and the Otis Parsons Art Insitute, but he insisted that he learned to draw on his own. In July 1991, Fryman married the love of his life, Brad DeWinde, but lost him to AIDS in October 1993.
William Garcia dedicated his life to making the socialized health care system of Costa Rica fulfill its promise. After Garcia, 29, was refused payment assistance for costly HIV medications, he took his country’s medical system, Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), all the way to the Supreme Court.
He won the battle in September 1997, but died three weeks later on October 12 at the age of 29. He will be remembered as a symbol for the hundreds of PWAs in Costa Rica who are currently denied access to medication.
The man considered by The New York Times to have been a model for the “Lazarus” effect of protease inhibitors, Jerry Roemer, died of AIDS on August 22, 1997. An AIDS activist and Washington lawyer, Roemer gained national attention when Attorney General Janet Reno publicly declared him an inspiration after he became well enough to return to work at the Department of Justice. Sadly, the benefits of the drugs did not last for Roemer. He died at the age of 32 after being positive for at least 10 years. His partner, Michael Mancilla, has said of their three-year relationship, “We lived our life in pursuit of accelerated joy.”