torn by the attitudes reflected in the media and what they were taught by their professors. Each year fewer undergraduates were choosing medicine as a career. The most commonly quoted reason: fear of AIDS.
I found an unexpected few moments to speak with Margaret at a meeting in Seattle. We both smiled ironically knowing that we had to travel across the continent in order to have the opportunity to talk to each other. We never saw each other at the medical center those days. Margaret had become an AIDS specialist. No, more than a specialist, an authority. She had conducted the clinical trials that led to the introduction of zidovudine (AZT), the first medicine found to be partially effective against the AIDS virus, in 1987. She addressed the audience of fellow faculty in Seattle with total command of her subject matter.
“Zidovudine prolongs life. DDI and combined chemotherapy are coming, which will further improve survival,” she encouraged.
Margaret, however, had paid a price for her fame. The Miami Herald had run an exposé on her in the Sunday edition a few months before, alleging she was “on the take” from the drug company that makes AZT, and even attempting to raise scandalous issues about her personal life. I assumed this misplaced medical muckraking was instigated by patients who were frustrated in their attempts to be enrolled in her protocols. I wrote a letter to the editor defending Margaret, which was published, but few others rose to her defense. After I left the Special Immunology Clinic three years previously, she made national news with her investigations on heterosexual transmission among prostitutes in Miami and her clinical trials of AZT. She had six faculty members and a host of support people working under her. The hospital had opened a wing for her patients. Yet AIDS activists pelted her with eggs at an international AIDS conference, accusing her of delaying the arrival of new medicines with her research. She had no personal time. Her telephone was always busy.
In a quiet moment before her talk, she told me that the World Health Organization predicted that by the year 2000 there would be