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Richard & Barry: A Friendship Spanning 40 Years

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September 22 2014

Recently, AIDS Research Alliance received a donation from one of our longstanding supporters, Richard Bloch. It was made in honor of Barry Greenfield, who had been featured in our 2014 issue of Searchlight. In the Searchlight interview, Barry described what it was like to be gay and sexually active in the early 80s, when AIDS first appeared on the scene, how he learned that he had been infected with HIV, and how he later realized that his ability to live without antiretroviral therapy was the result of a rare gift - he is an “elite controller.”

Richard and Barry have known each other for over 40 years. Here, Richard tells us about his history with AIDS Research Alliance, his friendship with Barry, and why Barry’s story inspired him to give.

Man Friendship
Not a picture of Richard and Barry, but we think it communicates the loyalty that we see in both of these ARA supporters.


When did you come to ARA?

I have been volunteering with AIDS Research Alliance for close to 20 years—since the early 1990s. I had a friend named Howard Portugais, who was involved in ARA early on. I started volunteering for ARA when the offices were on Beverly Boulevard, in the Liberace Building. That was ARA’s first location.

How do you know Barry?

I’ve known Barry since I came to California. I met him through a mutual friend – John Epstein. It must have been 1970. I moved to Los Angeles from New York because I got a job at the William Morris Agency as an agent. I was an agent for many, many years.

I was once the volunteer of the year at ARA. There was a picture and profile of me in Searchlight. I’m probably the longest running volunteer at ARA.

What inspired you to give in Barry’s honor?

I had dinner with Barry – I went over to his house—about a year ago. It was such a pleasant evening. I’ve always thought Barry was very intelligent and nice, and I’ve been impressed by his commitment to giving back. When I saw the article in Searchlight—I’d been meaning to make a donation—when I saw the article about Barry, I thought, isn’t that wonderful that he’s been helping out all of these years? It was a wonderful tribute to him in Searchlight.

Why do you hope for a cure?

Everybody who has been involved with the epidemic since it first started – I’m 76 years old – I was in my 40s when we first heard about it – we have always felt that, through everything, there eventually would be a cure. Since I’m a gay man, I feel it is very important to find out how we can get rid of this virus.

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