Saturday, November 06, 2010

Dateline Seattle, Boston, and the world.

My doc, pictured above, is one of the many co-authors of the HIV study linked in the link below.  It went to press in The Journal Science on thursday and it's a very big deal.

First a little background. In my book, Dr Rob, he's the stuff of hero's.  He won't acknowledge this and will work hard to deflect this kind of attention but really, he is.  He's kept me alive, post repeated head trauma. He was the doc that caught that I was still bleeding internally, and I'd never seen an office mobilize like I did that day.  Since that first visit, he's never doubted that what's happening has been real and at times he's taken seriously what I've tried to brush off.  In the last decade, I've never once felt him give up on a better outcome than what we've had to date. Instead, contrary to much of the indifference of the medical establishment, Dr Rob is engaged and I owe him so much. He is my greatest champion and as more and more is learned about the significant impacts of repeated head trauma, he's usually at the forefront and calling in the calvary.

I am not HIV positive, but I, like Dr Rob, have witnessed no end of suffering, death, and hatred stemming from this disease. Earlier this year, Dr Rob told me that year-to-date his new HIV diagnosis was 15 times higher than the same time the previous year and was setting records for his practise.

I've known about HIV for most of my adult life. I was 15 the first time someone told me about this mysterious new affliction, then known as GRID. Ironic that a person who'd been molesting me for years would actually provide the news that would indeed save my life.  The onslaught of HIV was horrible and unending.  We knew so little about HIV and as the first cases were coming to light, the indifference we encountered as a community was horrorifying.  Society lined up the victims and pronounced some good (like Ryan White and those who'd contracted the virus from a blood transfussion) and others (gays, drug users, prostitutes) as bad and entirely deserving of their fate.  We were the new jews and even in my own family I heard calls to quarantine people and haul them off to special facilities.

Here we are 30 years later and I've lost over 400 people that I care about.  Most are truckers, but some include roommates, best friends, and yes, people I had huge crushes on. Some months, I'd have multiple calls in the same week where people told me the news of their HIV status, or worse, the death of someone I cared about. 

For younger folks, you have no idea what living through the 80's and most of the 90's was like.  It is a horror I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It turned me into a word I hate---an activist.  To this day, my home is filled with the images of all the people I've lost because I just can't and won't forget their names.

Still, what you see linked here, beneath this intro, are the first embers of a lasting promise. A bright LED light that finally lends us to hope. Read it and weep.  For joy.

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