Anthony Fauci and I go way back. His name became a household word to me not from his recent appearances as the expert at the daily briefings of the White House Corona Virus. We go back decades.
In the 1980s my brother Tim and his partner John bought a beautiful a two-story Victorian home in Atlanta. Together they ran a small café on Peach Street called Neon Peach. It was the start of the AIDS epidemic, and John was struck with the mysterious virus.
AIDS was a full-blown crisis when the first clinical trials for a vaccine started in 1987 at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland began in 1987. With no cure available, John agreed to participate. Anthony Fauci, who by then had already been at NIH a few years, was his doctor.
Tim became John’s caretaker. Despite John getting sicker, they repeatedly packed up their hope to make the ten hour drive each way between Atlanta and Bethesda for treatment. Dr. Fauci’s name became a household word along with the experimental drug name AZT and “T-cell count” which told us the rate at which HIV was killing cells and killing John.
John died. The Neon Peach closed. Tim, a skilled carpenter, lost the house he’d dedicated years restoring. In 1990 he moved back home to the Midwest.
Tim lived with HIV/AIDS, strongly stoic as our German parents had taught, until his death in 1994. Three years later, the FDA had approved the first of the “cocktail” combination of drugs that would result in people living long lives with HIV/AIDS.
Today when I watch Dr. Fauci on the podium giving reports on health and hope for our country in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, I see someone who has dedicated his life to finding possibility and giving guidance when the world seems dark and the path unseen.
Dr. Fauci’s research could not save John, or my brother, or the 32 million people around the world who died from HIV/AIDS. But when I see his face, I see a friend. A friend who gives comfort. A friend who gives faith that while people will continue to die for a very long time, the dedicated people in health care who have always served us will continue to do so if we continue to support them.
Who is a friend you gives you comfort now?
Is there a health care worker who needs your support?
Are you willing to hold on to hope for the future?