When AIDS Was an Unknown

Mary Caplan, right, with Emily Collazo in New York.

Mary Caplan, right, with Emily Collazo in New York. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps

In honor of World AIDS Day, we present the story of how the disease affected one family — at a time when AIDS was still entering America's consciousness.

In 1985, Tom Ward died of AIDS, at the age of 40. Recently, his older sister, Mary Caplan, went to a StoryCorps booth in New York City to remember him.

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Speaking with her friend Emily Collazo, Caplan recalled the mood of the time, the way people spoke about AIDS — and how her life changed after she brought Ward home from the hospital for the last time.

StoryCorps mobile booths are currently in Las Vegas and Gulfport, Miss. A copy of the interviews will also be archived at the Library of Congress.

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