HIV activist who died of coronavirus remembered as ‘my reason for living’ by his husband

HIV activist who died of coronavirus 'my reason for living', says husband

An HIV activist who died this week from coronavirus is being remembered by his husband as “my reason for living”.

Garry Bowie, who was the executive director of Being Alive Los Angeles, died on Tuesday of complications from COVID-19.

His husband, Jeff Wacha, shared the news of his death on Facebook, saying Bowie had died “as a result of the damage COVID-19 did to his lungs and body”.

Bowie began showing flu-like coronavirus symptoms on March 19, and was ill but stable for a week until March 27, when his breathing became “shallow and rapid”, Wacha said.

He refused to go to hospital at that point as he didn’t want to “sit there… with all of those other people’s germs”, but went by ambulance the next morning when his condition hadn’t improved.

Wacha spoke to Bowie for the last time on Saturday March 28, in the afternoon, before Bowie was put on a ventilator.

“I had no idea it would be the last time I spoke to my husband,” Wacha wrote.

“My reason for living; the man who has supported me emotionally the previous 20 years and kept me alive; the man who made me laugh every day that we were together…

“The man who made each day together even more beautiful than the day before; the man who always knew what to do to help me see the light at the end of the tunnel when I started spiralling into the abyss…

“The man who surprised me with deliveries of flowers just because he ‘knew you needed it right now and to remind you how much I love you’.”

Being Alive Los Angeles provides mental-health counselling and other support to people living with HIV.

The organisation was founded in 1986, during the peak of the Aids crisis in the US.

Bowie, who according to local media was active in the leather community and had worked as an archivist for Satyrs Motorcycle Club, had saved a wealth of documents stretching back to the 80s.

Wacha confirmed that these would still be available for archives and historians: “Garry has compiled a wealth of historical documents for several organisations.”

“Please be assured that all of his archives will remain intact as he left them.

“I’ll reach out to you in the future to help me go through the items Garry may have for your organisation so you can decide on what you want to do with them.

“He was preparing a large number of archives for the ONE Institute. Everything is safe and will remain to be.”

Thanking his friends and family for their support, Wacha ended his post: “Every time I start to talk about Garry, my heart explodes from my chest.

“Thank you for loving Garry and supporting him for so many years in every endeavour he took on.”

The UK’s Terrence Higgins Trust, the national adviser for LGBT+ health, has made it clear that people who are HIV-positive “with a good CD4 count and an undetectable viral load are not considered to have weakened immune systems” and should not be considered high-risk of coronavirus.