CHAPTER 3: 1978
“Excuse me, Messieurs,” interjected a Frenchman sitting close-by. “I am a physician from Paris. Perhaps we have something in common.”
“What is your specialty,” I asked.
“I am a pulmonologist,” he replied, “informing certain authorities here, in Geneva, of a bizarre circumstance we have observed in Paris. Two women of the night have died of a rare and previously easily treated form of pneumonia. Speaking vulgarly, they were drowned by protozoa we all have in our lungs, but which healthy immune systems can control. So bizarre!”
Part Two: Tim, 1982-1989.
CHAPTER 13: 1988
In front of Tim’s door in the hospital’s corridor stood a small table, atop of which was a fresh breakfast tray. Carrying the untouched meal into his room, I said: “The nurse must have forgotten to bring this into you.”
“They are afraid of getting AIDS, René, only one nurse comes in. The rest drop supplies outside the door and run away,” he said, as his eyes filled up with tears.
“You must be mistaken,” I said totally surprised.
I went straight to the director of nurses’ office and, accompanied by the hospital’s CEO, I discovered that, indeed, Tim was correct. The hospital had never had an HIV admission and the nursing staff’s ignorance had paralyzed them.
Part Three: Bob, 1989-1998.
CHAPTER 24: 1998
Our housekeeper had also cleaned several local physician offices. I spread the numerous syringes, medications and assorted paraphernalia I used to boost both Bob’s red and white blood cell count on the table in the dressing room and explained what they were to her. When she did not come to work the next scheduled day, I called to inquire why. She said that her religion would not allow her to work in a house where there was AIDS.
“But you clean an HIV physician’s office,” I said confused.
“That’s business and it is different. This ain’t right,” she replied.
Oh, I nearly forget. I assume some of you may wonder about my health. After all, you just finished a book on HIV/AIDS, which took place during the worst part of the scourge, when everyone around me succumbed to horrible deaths.
I certainly do not want to be flippant about it, but I hardly ever think about my health. To be honest, the subject bores me. At 71, I am as vigorous and energetic as any of contemporaries.
I have many of the aches and pains other septuagenarians have, and I religiously swallow some two-dozen pills a day, made up of anti-retrovirals and various vitamins and supplements. Otherwise, HIV is not a significant part of my life.