Grand Rapids man remembers AIDS crisis 35 years ago

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GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Since 1988, every December 1 is designated as World AIDS Day. As of this year, it's estimated between 29 million to 41-and-a-half million people, were killed by the disease and nearly 37 million are currently living with HIV.

"I could fill this building with just the people we lost between the original Apartment and this Apartment, from AIDS," Ed Ladner said.

Ed Ladner, the former owner of the Apartment Lounge, remembers his bar and his customers from 35 years ago. 

"We had a lot of our clientele that had moved away coming back to Grand Rapids to spend their final days with their families," Ladner said.

At the time, treatment for the AIDS virus was limited. 

"Anywhere from three to six months and then they'd be gone," Ladner said.

Ladner and his employees decided to take a stand.

"They said why don't you do an auction, and at first I told them, I'm not sure we're big enough for that because we're not that big of a building here," Ladner said.

The Apartment Lounge's auction took off, raising up to $30,000.

"We became extremely extremely well known for the auction against AIDS," Ladner said.

The last time an auction was held at the Apartment Lounge was in the late 90's. But Ladner's fight to help other's protect themselves from the disease, never stops.

"It is a world's disease and it hasn't gone anywhere and we all need to remember that we have to protect ourselves in whatever way is available," Ladner said.

World  AIDS Day serves as a reminder.

"Whether it's drugs, sex or otherwise, if you don't protect yourselves and do the things the right way, you may not be here tomorrow," Ladner said.

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