My 75-year-old mother died of AIDS. She was not gay. She was not a drug user. She was an innocent victim. My mother received blood transfusions in 1984 in one of our city's finest hospitals. Near the end she was hospitalized with AIDS, outlived her Medicare hospital coverage, went home and died. My mother's death of AIDS was no different from other AIDS deaths. She suffered horribly. She was consumed by her disease, withered and died a terrible death.
There are no medical or psychological support services available to help an old woman with AIDS. There are no nursing homes or hospices willing to accept patients like her.
What is remarkable about my mother's death is only the fact that she was really an innocent victim. There are many elderly unnoticed AIDS patients, and their numbers are growing. It is time we acknowledge the plight of this unheralded group of people, and also that of their families.
My mother's death truly seems in vain. She was in death, as she had been in life, a pioneer--bravely facing new worlds and new situations--from fleeing the Nazis to fighting AIDS. What a horrible way for an old lady to die!