Born on March 18, 1942, David Aaron Charnow received his Bachelor's degree in Comparative Religion and his Master's degree in Special Education from Columbia University and Teachers College, respectively. His special interest was in learning-disabled students and students with dyslexia in particular. From 1968 until 1971, Charnow was a teacher, supervisor and principal in schools for learning disabled students in New York and Washington, DC. In 1973, he went to Korea as a Peace Corps volunteer to teach. In addition, he occasionally lived and worked in Kibbutz in Israel during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1982, Charnow returned to Teachers College as a doctoral student in the Department of Family and Community Education.
Charnow was instrumental in establishing and maintaining "Survivors," a discussion forum for people with AIDS posted on The Backroom electronic bulletin board service (BBS). Under the name "Upper Westsider," Charnow co-moderated the electronic BBS, providing supportive words and information for people with AIDS and their friends and families. A curated collection of these BBS messages, which Charnow entitled "Survivors, Conversations with Upper Westsider, 1987," was reprinted (or re-posted) by The Backroom BBS in 1988, and includes messages from thousands of persons sent anonymously through the electronic BBS. As he wrote, "You will find many of [the messages] informative, emotional, gut wrenching, happy, sad, etc., but most of all you will find them educational. They will teach you about AIDS from the perspective of people that either have it or are involved with it in 'real life' on a regular basis."
Charnow died of AIDS-related illness on July 23, 1990.
[Box 1, folder 1] David Charnow Papers, Coll2013-004, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California