And that was just upstairs.
The lower floor of the building housed AIDS Treatment Initiatives (ATI), known more commonly among people living with HIV as the Atlanta Buyers Club. Like the film “Dallas Buyers Club” fictionalized, the Atlanta Buyers Club provided medications and alternative therapies to desperate people living with HIV who didn’t have time to wait for glacially paced treatment studies to be conducted.
And through it all, we buttressed ourselves against the ongoing onslaught of mortality that defined the early decades of HIV/AIDS by sticking together and staying informed and helping somebody else.
Lives were transformed. Endless comfort was provided. The dilapidated building that used to sit on 12th Street, in short, was a welcoming refuge hosted by the most courageous of Atlantans.
The planned development for the surrounding block will be a glistening celebration of a new Atlanta. Before we know it, it will be bustling with the latest trendy restaurants and elegant shops and condos with city views.
But a generation ago, that block was a heady mixture of horror and heroics. Many of us were there, then. We are still here. And we remember.
Mark S. King is an activist and writer living in Atlanta. He won the advocacy group GLAAD’s Media Award for “My Fabulous Disease”, his ongoing blog about living with HIV.