AIDS Doctors

AIDS Doctors : Voices from the Epidemic - An Oral History

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Today, AIDS has been indelibly etched in our consciousness. Yet it was less than twenty years ago that doctors confronted a sudden avalanche of strange, inexplicable, seemingly untreatable conditions that signaled the arrival of a devastating new disease. Bewildered, unprepared, and pushed to the limit of their diagnostic abilities, a select group of courageous physicians nevertheless persevered. This unique collective memoir tells their story. Based on interviews with nearly eighty doctors whose lives and careers have centered on the AIDS epidemic from the early 1980s to the end of the 1990s, this candid, emotionally textured account details the palpable anxiety in the medical profession as it experienced a rapid succession of cases for which there was no clinical history. The physicians interviewed chronicle the roller coaster experiences of hope and despair, as they applied newly developed, often unsuccessful therapies. Yet these physicians who chose to embrace the challenge confronted more than just the sense of therapeutic helplessness in dealing with a disease they could not more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 162.8 x 241 x 25.4mm | 661.87g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • notes, glossary, index
  • 0195126815
  • 9780195126815

Review Text

A detailed oral history of the first decades of the AIDS epidemic, told from the vantage point of the treating physician.Meticulous interviews with 74 doctors form the core of this lengthy narrative. Beginning with the events of the late 70s and early 80s, the doctors in these pages describe the sudden advent of the mysterious disease that presented itself, in various urban centers, as an immunologic deficit coupled with rampaging, exotic infections. Many physicians professional lives paralleled the emergence of AIDS medicine in the US: as recently minted residents when the first cases of AIDS appeared, many perceived AIDS both as a clinical opportunity (allowing them to engage in groundbreaking scientific research) and a professional coup (gaining them early entre into the lime-lit medical demimonde of cutting-edge medicine). Startlingly candid, more than a few physicians here express their passion for cowboy medicineas well as their pride in publishing journal articles, receiving coveted speakers invitations, and achieving the crowns of professional stature (such as tenured professorships and government appointments, historically reserved for more senior physicians). The intellectual and emotional conflicts raised by the nearly constant stream of AIDS deaths (until the advent of antiretroviral cocktails in the last half of the 1990s) devastated and sobered a generation of physicians taught that treatment leads to cure. Technical gaffes in the storytelling (such as describing the death of an AIDS physician, yet quoting her extensively in subsequent chapters) may confuse and distract the reader, but the eloquence and candor of many of the doctors quoted outweigh a certain lack of editorial finesse.A cold and revealing history of an American archetype, sure to appeal to readers whose lives have been affected by AIDS, and it might do well as required reading in medical school. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Table of contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction: Looking Backward; 1. Discovery and Commitment; 2. The Dark Years: Fear, Impotence, and Rejection; 3. Therapeutic Strivings, Therapeutic Stumbles; 4. Travel Agents for Death; 5. The Waning of the Epidemic?; 2000: An Epilogue; Appendix 1: Making an Oral History: A Methodological Note; Appendix 2: Biographical Notes on Physicians Interviewed; Notes; Glossary of Medical Terms; Index of Physicians Interviewed; Subject Indexshow more

Review quote

"From the vantage point of 2001, it is difficult to remember the reactions which marked the advent of AIDS twenty years ago. This book brings back those years so vividly ... At the level of personal and professional experience, it provides a sensitive and compelling evocation of those strange times." Social History of Medicine, Vol 15, No 1show more

About Ronald Bayer

Ronald Bayer teaches at the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Gerald Oppenheimer teaches at Brooklyn College, City University of New more

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45 ratings
3.97 out of 5 stars
5 22% (10)
4 56% (25)
3 20% (9)
2 2% (1)
1 0% (0)
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