Like many urban gay men in their 30s, Hershman is immersed in the epidemic. His lover of 10 years, advertising executive Ronald James, died in 1989 at the age of 33. His current partner, producer and former Disney production executive Gary Barton, is himself infected with HIV.
Despite the epidemic's catastrophic impact on gay men, Hershman--having already done stories for "The CBS Evening News" and other news shows about AIDS among gay men--believes it is time for television to tell the broader AIDS story.
"I decided that as a gay man, I didn't want to 'own' the epidemic," he says. "America needs to see that the people next door may be fighting this virus too.
"As the epidemic seeps into wider society, it's my hope that my journalism will allow other people to avoid the mistakes the gay community made during the early years of the epidemic," he says.
Ultimately he recognizes that he is powerless to alter other people's behavior. "All I can do is tell honest stories and put them out with as much heart and intensity as I can," Hershman says. "I could go on disability at any moment, but I still have stories to tell."