AS REAL AS IT GETS by Carol Pogash


The Life of a Hospital at the Center of the AIDS Epidemic
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 The human story of AIDS, told through profiles of doctors, nurses, and patients at San Francisco General--one of the first hospitals to feel the impact of the epidemic, and a pacesetter in AIDS care. Pogash, a former columnist and reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, has chosen a varied assortment of characters- -doctors who disagree vociferously with one another about the risks to health-care workers and the right to test patients for HIV; a young nurse who becomes HIV-positive after an accidental needle-jab and who struggles to protect her anonymity while battling the bureaucracy for compensation; a gay male nurse whose burdensome task is to select subjects for a research study on a potent new drug; former prostitutes and drug users whose street smarts make them invaluable outreach workers in a study of women at risk for AIDS. Then there are the patients, at first mostly middle-class, white, young, articulate, and cooperative--men with whom doctors and nurses find it relatively easy to empathize. But as the epidemic spreads to IV-drug users and their sex partners, health-care workers encounter a different culture whose hostility and violence make care more difficult. Pogash identifies all the doctors and nurses (except for the nurse accidentally stricken with AIDS) but uses pseudonyms for the patients. The profiles, often necessarily sketchy, introduce many of the troubling issues surrounding AIDS: What are the risks to and responsibilities of health-care workers? What are the rights of patients? How should new drugs be tested? What are the responsibilities of society to the terminally ill? Pogash provides no answers but shows real people struggling with the questions. An easily read, anecdotal approach that succeeds in delineating and dramatizing many of the ethical problems posed by the AIDS epidemic.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 1-55972-127-8
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Birch Lane Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1992