Daniel Kirby Reed, 29, a Springfield native who shared with students across the country his personal story of living with the AIDS virus, died of complications of the disease Nov. 20 at Inova Fairfax Hospital.
In a campaign to educate America's youth about the dangers of unprotected sex and other risky behavior, Mr. Reed traveled to college campuses, high schools and community centers to speak about the physical and emotional roller coaster he endured after his infection at 15.
Part of that experience was the realization that despite the dire prognosis that comes with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, he still had a life to lead and a say in how to live it.
After battling episodes of depression and feelings of being a social outcast as a gay man with AIDS, he vowed to find a way to repay those who offered him support.
He found it as a volunteer with organizations such as the National Association of People Living with AIDS and the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry, where he served as an AIDS peer educator.
He also served on the boards of the Whitman-Walker Clinic and the Metro TeenAIDS. In between his college studies and part-time work, he devoted his spare time to putting a human face on acquired immune deficiency syndrome and the human immunodeficiency virus.
"He wanted to share his knowledge so that people could be educated," said his mother, Sarah Reed, who sometimes accompanied him to speaking engagements and addressed the crowds on what it is like to have a child with a fatal disease. "He did a lot for young people."
With frankness and a bit of humor, he spoke on family acceptance, the need for an open dialogue on sex and the importance of personal responsibility. He told his audience that he contracted AIDS from unprotected sexual encounters during his early years in high school and that he was told he wouldn't live more than five years.
The doctor was wrong, though he nearly died in 1991. He graduated from West Springfield High School in 1988, and later, with the help of a protease inhibitor, he slowly resumed a more active schedule.
In 1994, he moved to Washington and enrolled in George Washington University, where he studied music, furthered his skills on the harpsichord and other instruments and performed with the University Singers and the Lassus Singers.
Mr. Reed graduated with honors in 1998 and began a master's program in musicology at the University of Maryland.
In addition to his studies, he also worked part time at the National Zoo and Waldenbooks. But foremost on his mind was increasing society's awareness and understanding of AIDS.
To that end, he shared his story on the "The Geraldo Rivera Show," "The Les Brown Show," and National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." Most recently, his picture appears in a Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry advertisement for HIV testing running in Washington area editions of national magazines.
He twice received received the Ryan White Youth Service award.
Survivors include his companion, Kirk J. Penberthy of Washington; his parents, Bill and Sarah Reed of Washington; a brother, Billy Reed of Richmond; and a sister, Cindy Reed-Brown of Westbrook, Conn.