When HIV Hit Boystown
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Published in: January-February 2021 issue.


A Doctor’s Journey through the AIDS Crisis
by Ross A. Slotten, MD
University of Chicago Press. 214 pages, $20.


JUST FORTY YEARS AGO, in 1981, pockets of the U.S. began seeing mini-epidemics among gay men afflicted with diseases that made no sense, suffering maladies that were rare or unseen among men in their prime. The disease was called GRID (for Gay Related Immune Deficiency) at first, before the acronym was changed to AIDS.

            At about that time, Ross A. Slotten had recently become a medical doctor and had cofounded a private practice in conjunction with National Health Service Corps, which had paid for his medical education. As long as he and his business partner served Chicago’s marginalized population, their obligation was being met. Due to the location of their practice—near the “Boystown” area of Chicago—and because that was a time when gay men and AIDS sufferers were often “kicked out of the previous doctors’ practices,” Slotten and his partner became de facto AIDS doctors with privileges at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chicago.

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Terri Schlichenmeyer is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin.