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Protease inhibitors November 1996: Jon Barrett describes the impact of a New York Times story heralding the drugs. (Bold beginnings).

I've never fully understood the scientific intricacies of HIV infection and AIDS. But growing up in the 1980s and coming out in the 1990s, as I did, I've always known enough to understand the despair of older friends who lost so many loved ones to the disease. Enough to recognize that I would be forced to share in that despair. Enough to be afraid.

Similarly, I didn't fully comprehend reports out of Vancouver, Canada, in 1996 that chronicled the success of a new class of drugs called protease inhibitors.

Then one Sunday morning at a coffee shop in the heart of Chicago's Boystown, I read Andrew Sullivan's November 10, 1996, New York Times Magazine cover story, "When Plagues End." He described friends who months before had been "hobbling along, their cheekbones poking out of their skin, their eyes deadened and looking down." Upon taking these new drugs, they "were suddenly restored into some strange spectacle of health, gazing around as amazed as I was to see them alive."

On combination therapy himself, Sullivan wrote that he now lived "with the expectation that life is not immediately fragile; that if I push it, it will not break." For me and many others, the essay was an introduction to the so-called drug cocktail and the ways it could change the lives of people with HIV.

In the months and years since, Sullivan has taken heat from some people for painting too bright a picture. The name of his essay, for example, suggested a conclusion to the crisis that researchers today aren't ready to project for 20 years in the future. Still, on that Sunday in November, his New York Times story helped me understand something about HIV and AIDS that science alone had yet to--that there is hope.
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Author:Barrett, Jon
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Nov 12, 2002
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