Project Participants


Carnetta Best
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

When Carnetta was interviewed in 2006, she was living in a transitional residence for the formerly homeless in Broward County, and getting ready to move into her own apartment. Diagnosed in 1991, she continues to live and thrive in Florida today.


Robert Brewster
New York City, New York

A long-term survivor living with HIV since the early 1980s, Robert has been active in the arts, gay, and HIV-positive communities of New York City for years. As the artistic director of the Robert Brewster Chorale — a choir of predominantly gay and HIV-positive African-American men — he performed with the goal of lifting the spirits of people living with HIV/AIDS and educating audiences about prevention. He continues to live and create in New York City.


Louis Curbelo & Rosalia Curbelo (Los Doctores)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Louis and Rosalia met while volunteering for an HIV outreach organization.  A sero-discordant Puerto Rican couple, Louis was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1987 and Rosalia is HIV-negative. Together they performed musical HIV/AIDS peer outreach & education for the Hispanic communities of Southern Florida. Louis passed away in May of 2010; Rosalia continues their work in his honor.


Dee (nickname used for reasons of privacy)
Newark, New Jersey

A resident of Broadway House, a special care facility for adults living with HIV-related illnesses, Dee had been diagnosed with HIV in the early 1990’s and was experiencing the early stages of dementia at the time she was interviewed in 2006. She passed away in 2007.


Ronald Johnson
Brooklyn, New York and Washington, D.C.

Diagnosed in 1989, Ronald lost his partner in the early days of the epidemic. In the years since he has worked with a variety of important policy and advocacy organizations tackling a range of issues central to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US (see also Who We Are: Advisory Panel) and is currently splitting his time between the home he shares with his partner of almost 10 years in New York City and his advocacy home-base in Washington, DC..


Thomas Jones & Linda Ryals
Brooklyn, New York

Thomas found out that he was HIV-positive in 1990; Linda is HIV-negative. They “did everything together” during their 36 years of partnership. Thomas passed away in 2006. We have, unfortunately, lost touch with Linda, but sincerely hope that she is doing well and continues to enjoy their beautiful grandchildren.


Larry McKeon
Springfield, Illinois

An openly HIV-positive, 5-term Illinois State Representative representing a district on Chicago’s North Side, Larry was diagnosed in 1986 and lost his partner in the early days of the epidemic. He served as Chicago Mayor Daley’s liaison to the gay community, then ran for state office and was outed as HIV-positive during that campaign. Larry retired from the Illinois State Legislature in 2006, and passed away after suffering a stroke in 2008.


Bill Rydwels
Chicago, Illinois

Diagnosed in 1985, Bill lost his partner of 17 years in the early days of the epidemic. He is a founding member of TPAN (Test Positive Awareness Network) in Chicago, and continues to be an active participant of the SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) support group.


Sue Saunders
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Diagnosed in 1991 at the age 58, Sue helped launch SHIP in Broward County, Florida’s first Seniors HIV Intervention Program, and spent many years active in peer outreach and education. An avid gardener and baker of amazing cookies, Sue passed away in February, 2012, at age 78.


(Most current information as of February, 2012)