Michael was like a lot of 14-year-olds you might know. He grew up in Cleveland, just outside Jackson, Mississippi. He liked football, Spider-Man comic books, and hanging out with his siblings and friends. But, unlike his peers, Felton was a hemophiliac, causing him to bleed excessively when injured. Michael’s medical condition left him in need of regular blood infusions to receive the clotting proteins he so desperately needed.
It could have happened to anyone—young, old, white, black—but as Michael sought care to manage his illness and live a normal life, he contracted HIV. At the time, Felton was one of only six people in Mississippi with HIV or AIDS, and one out of only 164 children under 13 nationwide. Every day was a fight, including his right to walk into East Side High School for his freshman year.
Felton fought as hard as he could, with the support of family, friends, doctors, and his community. Unfortunately, he lost the battle on October 28, 1985—less than one month before Bolivar County would decide if he would be allowed to go back to school.
But Michael Felton is still here … because of the love of his family, who carried his story and legacy forward as part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Thankfully today, kids like Michael can survive and even thrive with HIV.
It's time to Change the Pattern in the fight to end HIV and AIDS in the Southern United States. Be a part of this new initiative!