The Photo That Changed the Face of AIDS

  • Benedict Cosgrove

Photographer Therese Frare shares the story of how, as a young journalism student, she captured one of the most harrowing, controversial pictures to emerge from the pandemic.

In November 1990 LIFE magazine published a photograph of a young man named David Kirby his body wasted by AIDS, his gaze locked on something beyond this world surrounded by anguished family members as he took his last breaths. The haunting image of Kirby on his death bed, taken by journalism student Therese Frare, quickly became the one photograph most powerfully identified with the HIV/AIDS epidemic -- and epidemic that, by then, had seen millions of people infected (many of them unknowingly) around the globe.