I was 16 years old in 1986 when I met Mona. Mona was friends with my then boyfriend, she was 22 and recently widowed. Her husband had died of AIDS, she had it. I remember hugging Mona, but still feeling nervous about it. Before I was 17 she had called me at home from the hospital. She said she had pancreatitis and she felt like she was dying.
I never heard from Mona again. I assume she died, probably not that week.
I met Gene when I was 17. He was my best friend’s brother. He was HIV positive. He drove an enormous blue convertible and would park it in random places and we’d all hop out of the car and dance to “Losing My Religion” at the loudest possible volume.
I met Steven and Frank when I was 19. Steven and I were instantly joined at the hip. We loved each other. He’d tell me about his sisters back home and how much I reminded them of him. We got our puppies at the same time, we did our hair and nails together, we danced until the sun came up, and we held hands all the time.
Frank died when I was 21. His parents did not want Steven at the funeral. They were cruel to everyone from West Hollywood and angry with Frank for being gay.
Gene died of AIDS when I was 23, sort of. He was dying, there was nothing left to him, so he hurried it along with a bag full of pills. It made sense at the time, and everyone was excruciatingly careful to not help him. We wouldn’t even pick up his prescriptions for him. We didn’t want to be called murderers.
We sat at his bedside, a dozen of us, and sang “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” while Gene ate poison applesauce that he’d prepared himself. For another dozen hours men laid in bed with him chanting Ohm. When Gene stopped breathing we called the funeral home and left his body for them.
When Steven died in 2007 part of me died with him.
This morning my brother sent me an email. It read:
Read the last sentence of the abstract.
I sat at my desk and cried. I never thought this would happen in my lifetime.
In conclusion, our results strongly suggest that cure of HIV has been achieved in this patient.