It’s difficult to write this without sounding alarmist or too emotional or just plain scared.
If I had written this a month ago, I would have used the figure “40”. If I had written this last week, I would have needed “80”. Today I must tell you that 120 gay men in the United States-most of them here in New York-are suffering from an often lethal form of cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma or from a virulent form of pneumonia that may be associated with it. More than thirty have died.
By the time you read this, the necessary figures may be much higher.
The men who have been stricken don’t appear to have done anything that many New York gay men haven’t done at one time or another. We’re appalled that this is happening to them and terrified that it could happen to us. It’s easy to become frightened that one of the many things we’ve done or taken over the past years may be all it takes for a cancer to grow from a tiny something-or-other that got in there who knows when from doing who knows what.
In four months, the number has risen to 120 of us stricken and 30 of us dead.
The majority of Kaposi cases are being tended to at New York University Medical Centre. The doctor who is most on top of this situation is there, Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien. He and his associates are passionately determined to help take care of us and to find out what’s going on here.
Money is desperately needed, both for their research, which is going on around the clock, and for the treatment and chemotherapy of many of the patients who have no money or medical insurance.
I hope you will write a check and get your friends to write one, too. This is our disease and we must take care of each other and ourselves. In the past we have often been a divided community; I hope we can get together on this emergency, undivided, cohesively, and with all the numbers we in many ways possess.
New York Native, Issue 19, august 24-september 6, 1981