CHRISTINE JOY MAGGIORE
1956 - 27 December 2008
|Christine Maggiore died unexpectedly on December 27th leaving behind
her husband, Robin Scovill, their son Charlie and the memory of their
daughter Eliza Jane.
Christine was a beacon of hope for many people whose lives, like her own, had been turned upside down by an HIV positive diagnosis. When she received this devastating label in 1992, Christine — in spite of predictions that she had five years to live — did not give up, but devoted her life to helping others. For several years she was a public speaker for AIDS Project Los Angeles, LA Shanti Foundation and was a founding board member of Women At Risk. It was in the process of trying to find a doctor that she felt comfortable dying with that Christine starting getting conflicting information from AIDS experts, particularly troubling in the search to save her own life. One doctor in particular suggested that Christine retest and she finally did, testing HIV negative, positive and indeterminate over a dozen times in subsequent months. She was shocked. Christine took her questions and confusion to the very AIDS organizations that she was helping to build and their unanimous dismissal of her inquiries forced Christine to look outward. This series of events profoundly shook her faith in mainstream AIDS beliefs and sent her down a rabbit hole of exploration that would challenge everything that she had been lead to believe.
Over the subsequent years, Christine’s research put her in touch with people all over the world whose work and commitment to open dialog and debate caused her to rethink everything she had been taught to teach others about HIV and AIDS. Most importantly, it led her to question the absolute assertion that an HIV positive diagnosis meant she had to die.
In 1995, Christine set out to assemble a three-fold brochure outlining a series of facts that had been most compelling in her search for truth. That brochure turned into the first incarnation of her seminal book, What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong? It took Christine years to unearth the many studies, writings and facts that began to alleviate the shame and terror of her HIV diagnosis. Her desire was to create something concise and informative and empowering that she could give to others who had received a similar diagnosis and who were ashamed and terrified and alone.
Christine’s book — now in it’s 4th edition — has been translated into seven languages; her monumental work with her non-profit organization, Alive and Well AIDS Alternatives, has redefined what we think about AIDS; and her tireless communications, writings and pod casts have touched thousands of lives around the world and continue to provide a beacon of hope for anyone who lives in fear of AIDS.
In spite of Christine’s strength, she was also under tremendous pressure and scrutiny. She often felt that she wasn’t allowed to get sick like other people. After her daughter died in 2005 of an allergic reaction to an antibiotic for an ear infection, the LA County Coroner — ignoring evidence to the contrary — declared it a death from AIDS and Christine’s suffering increased horribly. She was vilified in the world media and harassed by outspoken opponents of her work who openly gloated that this was her just comeuppance. She and her family endured a yearlong criminal investigation that not only terrorized them, but also robbed them of an opportunity to mourn the loss of their daughter. That loss was twisted into sensationalized and mean spirited television episodes that portrayed Christine as a quack and a murderer and ultimately as dead. Christine never fully recovered from the unjust treatment that she received around the loss of Eliza Jane and that treatment ultimately exhausted her.
A week and a half ago, Christine was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia and did not conjure the strength to overcome it. She died unexpectedly in her home with her husband and a dear friend. Christine Maggiore’s death is a shock and devastating blow to her family and to the thousands of people around the world who loved and respected her.
For anyone who lives in fear of an HIV or AIDS diagnosis, Christine’s legacy will live on. She was committed to sharing vital facts and essential dialog that would give HIV positive people everywhere the chance to consider a destiny that differs from the one of death and despair that they are taught to expect.
In addition to her work, Christine was the kind of wife and mother that others aspired to. She was courageous, eloquent, honorable, wickedly funny and fiercely loyal, always putting her friends and family first. Christine was an inspiration to so many people and will be deeply missed.