CBC Digital Archives

Living and dying with AIDS

In the early 1980s doctors began noticing rare cancers and infections striking otherwise healthy young gay men. Something was destroying their immune systems — something fatal and possibly contagious. At first it was called the 'gay plague.' Then others began dying: Haitians, intravenous drug users, hemophiliacs and heterosexuals. Fear, confusion and prejudice reigned as the disease eventually known as AIDS grew from a mystery to an epidemic. This topic contains discussion of a sexual nature. The medical information in the clips was believed accurate at the time of broadcast, but may have changed.

Paul Simmons, 28, is one of 31 people dying of AIDS in Calgary, Alta. During the last six months he has volunteered for AZT trials, appeared on television programs and tried to make peace with his parents and partner Willie. But the disease triumphed in the end -- Paul died this week. He shared his final months with CBC Radio's Susan Cardinal, who prepared this moving story of Paul's last days.
. The original dose of AZT was one capsule every four hours around the clock. In 2002 most people take 3 capsules twice a day, or two capsules three times a day. A small percentage of people experience side effects including headache and muscle loss, and occasionally severe anemia.

. AZT is most commonly taken in combination with one or two other drugs. This is called a "drug cocktail." Taking AZT alone can let HIV mutate into a strain that resists the drug.
Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning
Broadcast Date: April 19, 1987
Guest(s): Dr. John Gill, Rev. Bob Purdy, Paul Simmons
Host: Linden MacIntyre
Reporter: Susan Cardinal
Duration: 34:32

Last updated: January 30, 2012

Page consulted on February 19, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

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