I'm a retired emergency doc and professional early oboe player in early instrument orchestras. And then toward the end of my career, I did geriatrics and end of life care, palliative care. And I continue to counsel families, friends, colleagues, and other people who I know around end of life issues and people living with life-threatening illness. So this whole COVID thing is very seminal.
It becomes an important piece, whether they can see their loved one or not. It becomes a big ordeal just to be able to be face-to-face in person with family who you fear may not be there in six months or a year. So yeah, no, it's a completely different paradigm, a completely different way of being with people.
Yeah, so I live with a much younger man who's healthy, and I'm pretty, I'm quite healthy despite some medical issues, but you know I think of it as a death sentence. If I got it, I'd be dead. I lived through Harvey Milk being shot and Moscone being shot in the parade down Market street. And I lived in the Castro virtually all of that time through the AIDS crisis, of course.
There are a lot of parallels and so the crisis of fear and the unknown and the development of knowledge over time, that sort of begins to put a lid on that. So I'm HIV positive, have been since almost certainly 1982. I've taken virtually every med that came out as it came out and until the nineties and the protease inhibitors that really quashed it. I had patients and partners and friends drop left and right in the early eighties. You know, I was on the first AZT study. I'm the only survivor of that study of five patients who had AZT-resistant HIV virus. My virus was resistant to that drug and I survived. Everybody else with that resistant virus died. And the AZT didn't work for me and I managed to survive a bunch of other meds that did begin to work with a lot of bad side effects. And then finally, you know, the great drugs came about and I'm completely suppressed and I'm basically well. But one has to put oneself forward to figure out what works for the better good of society.
I will take it as soon as it's available and I've inquired about the availability for me at my age, with my risk factors with my primary HIV doc, who gave me a date. You know, I mean, gave me a time window, so I have an idea and that's why it was so interesting for me to know that there are people who have it in place almost ready to give.
So, so that's actually very exciting, um, to me. And would I not get it? No, there's no way on Earth that I would not choose to take it. We know there've been allergic reactions to the vaccine. We know that there are people who have hypersensitivity to some of the ingredients and can't take it and so on and so forth.
But you know, the unusual side effects are the rare side effects come up later. So one has to be rational about that and acknowledge that that's a possibility, but one has to weigh the pros and cons. And those are cons, the bad side effects, but the pros are to wipe out this epidemic, which is such a big, global, unusual medical circumstance that, I mean, I don't like to have moral outrage about medical decisions, but I'm morally outraged.
The more that people refuse to take the vaccine, it's going to prolong the epidemic. There's no question in my mind and also make it unsafe for me, and it makes me think about moving to other places. You know, the things I miss besides the interactions is travel and sharing with my young partner places I've been and places I want to go. And, you know, I can only do it for so long cause I'm 74, although I'm pretty vigorous and I hope I'll continue to be vigorous, but it's, and, and visiting friends, I mean, I have a lot of friends all over the place and I'd like to see them. And as we age, you know, seeing them often is for the last time, or, you know, you want to have that connection.
I lived through the AIDS pandemic and gay human rights just exploded as a result of that, that, I mean, I could not have imagined gay marriage or gay adoption or all kinds of things. And for better or worse,and it was a big tragedy, it was nonetheless a catalyst for change because, because Larry Kramer in particular, but a lot of us could not shut up.
You cannot reflect back on the government and the society more importantly, probably, what's going on. And I think with regard to the oppressed, I think like gay issues, the genie's out of the bottle. You know, black lives do matter, or people- brown lives matter, people who are oppressed. I mean, my cleaning lady works at the General. She has no option not to work. I get it. And for me not to support her as much as I can in every way I can makes no sense. My parents were immigrants. They were oppressed. I get it. I understand it. So I think if anything, it will expand those issues. It will take time. I don't know how much time. I think it may take a long time.
I think this whole epidemic has to be processed, which is not going to happen in one year. It's going to be a while. I don't know how long. A very different virus, but the example that I would cite is polio. So everybody was all charged in the early fifties when the Sabin vaccine came out and it was available and I was one of the first takers and all that, and polio was just eradicated in Africa. Just. You know, and what that points to is the poor and the people of color and the oppressed are the last to get healthcare.
And we have to look at that locally in the US and more local than that, but also in the world. And you know, who's responsible? And when do we take responsibility?