The early and tragic days of the AIDS epidemic greatly affected fashion designer Tom Ford as many of his close friends from college sadly passed away from the sexually transmitted disease, but the 53 year-old will never forget them.

Tom Ford
Ford was honoured with the Award of Inspiration

While taking to the podium at the amfAR Inspiration Gala, where he was honoured with the Award of Inspiration, Ford gave a very emotional speech about the devastation AIDS caused when he was a young man.

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"I moved to New York in 1979 just before my 18th birthday," he recalled. "Of my close friends at NYU, more than half of them had died from AIDS by 1990."

"I remember the fear of the early 1980s," Ford continued. "I remember the feeling of having dinner with a friend and running into someone I hadn't seen and the light would rack across their face and my heart just sank-you knew. They looked fine but there was something. There was something in their eyes. There was something about the look on their faces that told you that the next time you saw them they wouldn't look as well."

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The legendary designer also remembered how he and husband Richard Buckley began dating. "We would meet for dinner and then we would each go to a different hospital to visit our best friends who were dying of AIDS," he said.

Tom FOrd
Ford tragically recalled how many of his college friends died from AIDS 

The pair were tested for AIDS in 1988, which is around the same time Buckley was diagnosed with cancer. "I remember Richard calling me in tears with his results to tell me joyfully that he only had stage four cancer and not HIV," Ford said. "Who could have imagined that only having stage four cancer was something to celebrate?"

Although Ford did recognise the vast progress made against the disease, he did note that "today's generation of young adults have never known the ravages of AIDS as some of us have and for that reason, in some cases, they have let down their guard. We cannot let down our guard."