mind. Anyone who wanted to could take advantage of these children. Any one of them, boy or girl, could probably be had for as little as a quarter.
I thought back to our article about AIDS among Haitians and the controversy it had generated. While our critics were wrong in claiming that our patients were all gay, perhaps there was a grain of truth in the assertion that gay men had been coming to Haiti and giving money to young boys for sexual favors. It probably was not just a gay thing, though. There were probably plenty of straight men making the short flights from Miami or New York to buy sex from Haitian girls and women. Exploitation has no sexual orientation. There had been much debate in the medical journals and the press as to whether the virus evolved in the United States and was transmitted here or vice versa, or in some entirely different place (we now know it probably originated in Africa). But seeing Cité Soleil, I could only wonder what the point of the debate was. Wasn’t it just another way of fixing blame? There had already been too much blame, I suddenly realized, and not enough understanding. If anything, it was politics, economics, and exploitation that spread the virus. For that we’re all responsible and we’re all to blame. The majority just loves to pin the blame on a minority, particularly one that can’t fight back.
As I sat in the van, surrounded by squalor, another thought struck me. The temperature was 90 degrees. The sun was heating up the water seeping through the garbage, and every possible combination of genetic material—human, viral, and bacterial—was fermenting in the water percolating through Cité Soleil. Children and adults were washing in, drinking, and excreting this water, walking or playing in this soup, sometimes with cuts or open sores on their feet.
My God, we’ve created the world’s largest Petri dish, I thought. In this soup of human and non-human DNA, anything could evolve. I never for a moment actually believed my fanciful Petri dish theory but was intrigued with it nonetheless. How much easier it would be to fight AIDS if only its origins were unrelated to sex. AIDS could