The movie Gia, tells of the rise and fall of model Gia Marie Carangi. Gia came to New York City as a 17 year-old punk rocker in the late-1970’s and took the modeling world by storm. She had attitude, which was backed up by beauty. Her reign was short-lived and after only nine years, in and out of the business, Gia died of AIDS at the age of 26. Her case was one of the first known cases where acquired immunodeficiency virus was listed as the cause of death. Through a powerful and convincing performance by Angelina Jolie, we see the tragedy of a fairy tale gone wrong.
Gia Marie Carangi was born on January 30th 1960. She grew up in Philadelphia. Gia saw her parent’s marriage slowly fade away as she grew older. At the age of 17 she left Philadelphia and set out to New York to start her modeling career after getting discovered by a photographer on a local street in Philadelphia. Gia had to forget her childhood pain of a broken family and hide it inside. While she made cover upon covers of Cosmo, Vogue, etc… no one saw the pain she was hiding underneath the beautiful and talented person that people viewed her as. The only thing people could see when they saw Gia’s face was just another beautiful supermodel. You know what they say….”You can’t judge a book by its cover”. Gia began partying with all the big names in modeling of that time. This was a major mistake. She had no idea what the future held in store.
Soon Gia was caught up in her social life. All she did was party and soon enough she entered into the drug scene. This was something that Gia could not stop on her own and was too weak to fight back. Drugs became her crutch and sometimes the only way she could make it through some days. The unstable relationships Gia was accustomed to, such as her mother and father, tended to make her feel alone with no one to take care of her. Gia would sometimes even call her agent, Wilhelmina Cooper, just to have someone to talk to.
Gia caught the eyes of everyone in the World. She had offers from Ellis, Elite, Scavullo, and Armani. Gia started at $10,000 a shoot and soon went to just shooting heroin. She was sliding down slowly but surely to the most horrible time of her life. She had no guidance or rules without parents and she simply wanted a person there to comfort her.
She had all the attention in the world….just not the attention that she wanted. She fell in love with her make up artist Linda. Their relationship tended to be off and on. This left her with nothing but drugs and a career that was slowly fading away. Gia’s hopelessness allowed her to not care how she got high. Her careless attitude led her to unsafe and unsanitary intravenous drug use. As a result Gia contracted Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). At age 26, Gia was the first woman in America to die from complications of AIDS. She died November 18, 1986 at 10:00A.M.
At the time that Gia had AIDS the medical field was unprepared and unfamiliar with it. In the movie Gia was isolated and the medical staff wore protective full body suits. They were unaware of how the disease was transmitted. The doctors were just as baffled in terms of treating her, so Gia remained bed ridden in the hospital until her death. Gia’s outlook of the disease didn’t seem as tragic as it should have. She had her mother by her side day in and day out. That was all she really wanted for a large extent of her life. Gia handled AIDS surprisingly well.
If she had lived in current times, she would probably still be living. There is no cure for AIDS, but doctors now know what symptoms to look for in an AIDS infected patient. There are treatments to help slow down the damage that occurs to the immune system, but there is no way to get all the HIV (virus that causes AIDS) out of the body. Gia most likely died from an infection that her body could not fight off due to the disease. That infection probably could have been prevented with the knowledge and medication that health care has available now.
Although health care has come a long way, scientists are still working hard to find a cure. Much of the research has to do with finding treatments that are unable to be resisted by the disease and focus on viral and cellular sections of the body. There are so many questions left unanswered and so many possibilities of what can conquer this disease. Thankfully enough a case like Gia’s is much more rare now. One of these days we hope Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome will be something of the past.
What is AIDS? (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2003, from
Brubaker, James D. ; Cristofer, Michael. (1998). Gia. USA: HBO Pictures.