A reader sends in these shots of San Francisco’s Castro District where 90 fabric irises are being displayed to mark the 25th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic.
“On June 5, 1981 the first published report about a new, mysterious disease killing homosexual men appeared in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report . Los Angeles health officials had reported back in May of that year that five otherwise healthy gay men had pneumonia and two had died.
The report indicated that all the men had a ‘cellular-immune dysfunction related to a common exposure’ and a ‘disease acquired through sexual contact.’ Soon federal health officials learned of similar cases in cities across the United States. San Francisco’s Castro District was particularly hit hard by what became known as AIDS. Over the course of the epidemic, the city has recorded nearly 18,000 deaths due to AIDS.”
Organizers have installed a “message board” on a 43-foot long fence at 18th and Castro streets where people are encouraged to leave notes about their commitment to fighting the AIDS epidemic and remember loved ones who have fallen victim to the disease.
According to the BAR, “The agency selected the iris flower because of its symbolism in many cultures, including Egypt, India, Japan, and Europe. The iris equates life, hope, healing, and strength. It is named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow who brought messages between the heavens and earth and helped usher souls to the afterlife.”