Friday, May 15, 2009


The AIDS dorm is voluntary. It is housed in the medical infirmary building but no one is placed there without hus consent. Alex runs the dorm. He is a resident and he has AIDS. Fortunately, Alex has been able to stay healthy. Although his T-cell count is 0, he has had no opportunistic infections and he takes good care of himself. His picture could appear on the cover of a body builder magazine. He is also a natural born leader and has assumed his position. he takes care of new patients when they arrive. He sees that they have clothing, cosmetics, soap, deoderant, and anything else that will make them more comfortable. Many things can be purchased in the commissery but many residents do not have any money and there is no one on the outside to send them any. Alex sees that special needs are met. If a patient is very sick, as a few are, Alex sees that their meals are brought to their bed. If a patient is too sick to take a shower by himself, Alex will see that he is properly bathed. There are nurses on the unit but not enough to see that everyone gets everything. Alex takes it as his responsibility. Alex sees that the the food is given out fairly and that anyone who needs extras get them. Most patients are able to take care of themselves but Alex sees see that no one takes advantage of those who can not. The other day Alex asked me my first name. It is printed on my badge but I confirmed it. I asked him if he wanted to look me up in the phone book. Alex said, "No, I want to show you something." Alex showed me a letter written to the editor of a magazine called Newsline, the people with AIDS Coalition of New York. It is for patients with AIDS. A man wrote that he had been HIV+ for six years. HE said that the was facing six to tweleve years in prison and a life sentence with his illness. The writer told of his bitterness whaen he found out that the HIV viras had infected him. The writer said that people like, and he named me and the people of PWA (People with AIDS) helped him come to terms with his illness. He said that the was able to come to terms witht he virus but it also made a radical change in his attitude thoward himself, others, and life in general. Alex asked me if I remembered Mike, the author of the letter. I told him that I remembered Mike very well. Mike wrote some lovely poetry. He also told me about the jailhouse mouse. I will never