Author Topic: AIDS activist Jason Roberston dead  (Read 54 times)

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AIDS activist Jason Roberston dead
« on: September 10, 2003, 01:51:05 PM »
GRANITE CITY, Ill. - Jason Robertson, whose battle to attend school as a boy with AIDS in the 1980s helped other children with the virus overcome its stigma, has died. He was 23.
   
Robertson died this past Thursday in his mother's home in Granite City.

"Until the end, he was more concerned for our feelings than for himself," said Tammie Robertson. "He told me, 'Mom, I'm sorry I made you cry so many times and that I was such a burden.' ... But he was never a burden."


Robertson was diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS when he was 5 years old. He contracted the virus through blood products used to treat his hemophilia.


At his mother's suggestion, the Granite City School District designated a special classroom in a trailer to shield him from controversy.


But he was lonely without contact with other children, so she asked the district to let him attend regular classes. The district refused, siding with parents who feared, contrary to medical fact, that their children could become infected through casual contact.


A federal judge ordered the district in 1988 to admit the child to regular class.


Tammie Robertson said on the first day of classes, her son had to walk past angry parents shouting "Back to the trailer!"


"Jason forgave them, and I forgive them," she said. "They didn't know any better. It was the early days of AIDS."


When Robertson was 8, his family moved to South Roxana, Ill. There, he once again faced placard-waving demonstrators on his first day of school.


"He was a tough little fella. He showed a lot of courage," said the school's then principal, Dorothy Stickels.


Robertson's struggle made him a symbol of the fight against AIDS discrimination. But to his family, he was a boy who dreamed of living a normal life, who loved baseball, comic book superheroes and wrestling.


Robertson became close friends with Ryan White, an Indiana boy with AIDS whose legal struggle to attend a grade school in his state became a national story in 1985.


When White died in 1990, Robertson "ran off and locked himself in his room and cried," his mother said. "To him, it was like losing his big brother."


With money from a suit filed against the companies that supplied the tainted blood products that made him sick, Robertson bought a car and house of his own.


As the drugs that kept full-blown AIDS at bay began to aggravate his hemophilia, Robertson stopped taking medication.


"He wanted to live at least a couple of years without pain," his mother said.


 

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Re:AIDS activist Jason Roberston dead
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2003, 01:56:03 PM »
RIP

 

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Re:AIDS activist Jason Roberston dead
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2003, 06:06:27 PM »
That sucks, it appears though he was able to bring attention to the issue with his life.