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
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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