the poor had been growing during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Actually, that suspicion had been there initially with our Haitian patients. We had looked at income as a risk factor. Our Haitian patients with AIDS were no poorer than those without AIDS. In retrospect, we realized that we had committed a major statistical blunder. The control group should have been a group of rich patients, not other poor people. So for several years, I went against my instincts and tried to find some other link between my Haitian patients and AIDS.
Then, in 1988, Alina—compassionate, caring Alina—engaged me in helping her with one of her growing passions—bringing health care to the homeless. I think it might have been a kind of “payback” for my getting her involved with Régis. At any rate, the social upheavals of the 1980s—the flood of immigrants from Cuba during the Mariel boatlift, many of whom had problems with mental illness, coupled with recession and the impact of crack cocaine on poor communities, had swollen the ranks of Miami’s homeless to more than 8,000. They lived in encampments in the city’s parks and under the freeways that crisscrossed the city. As I got more involved, I learned that AIDS had become a huge problem among the homeless.
So Margaret and I were on two different planets, universes apart. Margaret lived in the universe of science—numbers, protocols, statistics, and clinical trials. We need these things in order to make progress. That’s not to say that Margaret still did not suffer with her patients. I know she did. But science gave her and them hope. But in the homeless clinic I was working in, there was very little science. Mostly, there were a lot of patients with AIDS, and, although I tried, there was precious little I could do.
In my own mind, Tim was the last person in the danse macabre line, the string of seemingly unrelated people—rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight—being led to death by the AIDS devil. During the Black Death, the danse macabre image represented the belief that the plague chose its victims without respect for education, social position, or wealth. For a while, the modern plague in Miami gave