Sunday, January 25, 2009

How Marty Delaney Changed Medicine.

From my friend, Ken McPherson, who was one of the first AIDS activists. Ken migrated to San Francisco early in the 80s and set up an information table at "Hibernia Beach," a corner in the Castro.
I just went to your blog and learned about Marty Delaney.

He really was an extraordinary person. I spent two years on the board of directors of D.A.I.R. (Documentation of AIDS Issues and Research) with Marty in the late 80s. He wrote about my work in his autobiography.

I was there when he began smuggling ribavirin and isoprenizine over the Mexican border to begin testing the validity of combination therapy. The doctors wouldn't do the testing, "too risky". Yeah. Tell that to people who are dying... That really pissed him off.

So he rented the office next to DAIR and began Project Inform. At the time, it was almost impossible for PWA's to get in-depth information on the epidemic. People forget how paternalistic the medical community was at in those days. Patients were expected to do what their doctors told him and otherwise, keep quiet.

As a result of Marty's work, PWA's soon stopped thinking of themselves as "victims" and began taking personal responsibility for their health. Project Inform played a major role in the patient's rights movement by providing a model in which doctors and patients were a team; something we now take for granted. What an amazing legacy.

1 comment:

Carolyn Wagner said...

Back in the mid to late 80's when I was working as a nursing supervisor, we had admitted, within 24 hours, two young men who were in the last days, dying with this yet unknown disease. We utilized "universal precautions" which is a term for virus'/bacterial infections wherein the method of contamination was not specific without further research. This term was used for a wide variety of contagious diseases. Both of the men were admitted to the medical intensive care unit. On my watch I had two nurses refuse to care for these men based on the assumption they were gay and the nurses used their religious convictions, as their justification to refuse treatment. I terminated them both when they told me nothing would alter their position. They violated the sacred nurses oath they confirmed when licensed. The board of nursing later terminated their license to practice in Arkansas as they did this several times toward children. Mr Delaney had written an educational and very informative booklet about HIV/AIDS long before others did so and this became a vital tool for the caregivers/family/friends managing the daily care of those with HIV/AIDS. These were the days when even Reagan refused to say the word AIDS much less acknowledge the epidemic that was already upon us. I owe Mr Delaney the deepest of gratitude from an old nurse, he was courageous and a role model for myself and many others as to how to confront, with love and compassion as well as to stand up to those who, through neglect, cost the lives of untold numbers. So now, I extend my gratitude to one who did much for so many. My sympathy to his friends and families. I will not forget.
Carolyn Wagner