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Bleeding Disorders | HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis
News Flash: Joshua Luniorís Story

Joshua Lunior received the 1997 Ryan White Memorial Award. Joshua received the award for his dedication educating children and adolescents about HIV and bleeding disorders.

 Joshua Lunior's Story
 by Bob Lesnow 

Joshua never enjoyed the ideas of secrecy or anonymity with respect to his own HIV infection. He had genuinely suffered as a result of hemophilic hemorrhages and had learned the need to communicate his unique vulnerabilities. Consequently, as it became necessary to undertake experimental treatment for his HIV infection, he did not want to have to lie about his absences from school and /or conceal his HIV status.

 At the age of 10 Joshua admired the few other children who had gone public with their HIV/ AIDS conditions. In the late summer of 1992, when Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, wanted a group of infected children to stand by her side as she announced a new pediatric AIDS research initiative, Joshua wanted to take part. Since he had not revealed his status at that point, he needed to stay behind. A year later, however, Joshua got his chance to speak out about his personal suffering and that of many others as a guest with nine other infected hemophiliacs on the Phil Donahue show. Joshua closed the show with a quote from a letter written to his classmates,"... I just don't want to feel so different."

 In the spring of 1992 Joshua had begun traveling to visit elementary school children in Balston Spa, NY, giving them a chance to meet and question a "real kid" who had the deadly HIV virus. Always one of the children would bravely ask the most important question to them, "Are you afraid you are going to die?" Joshua was a natural in front of an audience. He enjoyed relating to the children, sharing his life experiences and explaining his hemophilia infusion procedure to them.

 In September of 1993, Joshua found himself on the front page of two area newspapers for two days running, as he prepared for and delivered a speech to his new school classmates at the beginning of his seventh grade year. Requests for more school presentations followed ,and Joshua cheerfully obliged. He received an education in preventing sexual transmission of HIV by taking a class with other high school students from around the region studying to become teen peer educators.

By the summer of 1994, Joshua was preparing for another milestone along his entry into community service, his Bar Mitzvah service and speech. He proudly announced his hemophilia/HIV status to an audience of about 150 people saying " I do the mitzvah(commandment) of P'Kuach Nefesh, which means saving peoples' lives. I go around to schools telling about my life and answering questions. I want to go to more schools so these young teenagers won't get the (HIV) virus!"

 Throughout the last four years Joshua has given generously of his time to continue delivering important messages to teens and adults concerning the needs of infected persons and especially hemophiliacs. Joshua has been on news programs promoting the joy of camps for infected and affected children, and he has often encouraged his audiences by saying, "If you know someone who is infected, don't be mean, be a friend". Indeed, by his willing smile and warm sincerity, Joshua has become a friend of the world at large. He is certainly fulfilling an important prayer he had been given by a spiritual teacher to repeat nightly, "Lord, make me healthy, happy, and holy, that I may serve You and all humanity."

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