Health the night before. Dr. Anthony Fauci was looking for volunteers for Phase I studies of an antiviral agent that held the promise of actually killing the virus. Previous drugs had merely stopped its growth. Phase I studies at NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, were designed not for treatment but to measure toxicity. Lee would need to go to NIH and stay there for four weeks to submit to the tests. If the drug proved safe, he could continue it in Miami. He qualified because he was in the early stage of the disease. He happened to have two weeks of vacation coming and could take time off from work.
When we offered Lee the chance to enter the study, he said he needed to talk with his family first. Two hours later he called me back and said he would go. Although I hoped that the drug would live up to its promise, I had lingering doubts. At the very least, I hoped it wouldn’t hurt him. Meanwhile, it was Thursday, and there were seven patients waiting for me at the Special Immunology Clinic.
I told Jeanette Margaret’s account of Régis’s passing. “It’s probably not true,” she said. “There’s a rather infamous gay—very wealthy—with the same last name as your patient Régis. He died recently under similar circumstances. I’m sure that’s who her contacts told her about. I told you that Régis was from a poor part of Haiti. Once he returned there, I’m sure he was never heard of. Who’d care? For all you know, he could still be alive, up there in the mountains. It’s healthier up there, you know.”
“Who are you kidding?” I thought. There’s no way he could still be alive. Hope is a funny thing, though. In spite of all I knew about the disease, I hoped against hope that Jeanette was right. At the very least, I hoped Régis hadn’t died alone, as Margaret had described it.