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Another Kind of AIDS Crisis
Section One
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Another Kind of AIDS Crisis

A striking number of HIV patients are living longer but getting older faster-showing early signs of dementia and bone weakness usually seen in the elderly.

By David France
New York Magazine
Nov 1, 2009

When David Simpson was working at Mount Sinai Medical Center as a young neurologist in 1984, the neuro-AIDS program occupied a dark warren of tiny rooms in the complex's basement. It was a place overwhelmed by plague, a final stop on a doomed journey. 'People came in with seizures or paralyzed on half their body. People came in in comas. Men were screaming-I have videotapes of this,' says Simpson, the program's director. 'Bedbound, incontinent, couldn't sleep. They could be dead in a number of days.'

Those are memories of a distant past. When the drugs arrived in 1996, they ended this kind of pitiless death and put many AIDS wards out of business. The famous St. Vincent's seventh-floor ward now houses offices for the orthopedic department. The sixth floor at New York Downtown, the eleventh floor at Beth Israel, the seventeenth floor at New York-Cornell, whole wings at Lenox Hill, Bellevue, and Harlem hospitals-those dire corridors where, in a little over ten years, more than 60,000 New Yorkers drew their last painful breaths-have been cleared out and repurposed. 'So much trauma, there was so much history,' says Victoria Sharp, who directed AIDS programs at Beth Israel, St. Clare's, and St. Luke's-Roosevelt, 'and they're gone.' Simpson stayed in business by expanding into other areas of neurological research (using Botox to help treat stroke paralysis, for one).

full story:
http://nymag.com/health/features/61740/

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