In his monologue, Gray’s Anatomy, Spalding Gray is faced with deteriorating eyesight and potential blindness. He describes his initial reaction to the problem: “It was so terrifying that I had no choice but to ignore it.” Since it first came to attention in the early 1980s, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has inspired much the same response. Although the disease has disrupted a generation with its deadly presence, become the leading cause of death for young adults in the United States, and pervaded our culture in any number of ways, the level of ignorance, misinformation, and disinterest we still hold about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the disease it leads to is astonishing.
So far the medical community has had little luck in combating and understanding HIV. Instead of responsibly confronting the virus, many in the public sector have ignored it. Paul Monette writes, “It will be recorded that the dead in the first decade of the calamity died of our indifference.” 1 Perhaps the specter of inevitable death and debilitation that seems to hover around the disease has made it