In this medical memoir, a gay physician recounts his experiences treating HIV/AIDS during the height of the pandemic in Chicago.
In 1992, Dr. Ross A. Slotten signed more death certificates in Chicago—and, by inference, the state of Illinois—than anyone else. As a family physician, he was trained to care for patients from birth to death, but when he completed his residency in 1984, he had no idea that many of his future patients would be cut down in the prime of their lives. Among those patients were friends, colleagues, and lovers, shunned by most of the medical community because they were gay and HIV positive. Slotten wasn’t an infectious disease specialist, but because of his unique position as both a gay man and a young physician, he became an unlikely pioneer, swept up in one of the worst epidemics in modern history.
Plague Years is an unprecedented first-person account of that epidemic, spanning not just the city of Chicago but four continents as well. Slotten provides an intimate yet comprehensive view of the disease’s spread alongside heartfelt portraits of his patients and his own conflicted feelings as a medical professional, drawn from more than thirty years of personal notebooks. In telling the story of someone who was as much a potential patient as a doctor, Plague Years sheds light on the darkest hours in the history of the LGBT community in ways that no previous medical memoir has.
Praise for Plague Years
“Plague Years is a remarkable book. At once the story of a disease and a very personal and reflective memoir, 200-some pages written in a powerful narrative style at once artful and enlightening. . . . There are many truths in this stunning and important book. And there’s also hope.” —Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune
“A plainspoken memoir of the AIDS onslaught by a doctor whose life and career have been spent fighting back at it, Plague Years is humane, harrowing, and—eventually, mercifully, guardedly—hopeful. It was not an easy thing for me to return to the Chicago of those early years of increasing anxiety and fear—who knows how many times Dr. Slotten and I may have unknowingly crossed paths?—but this is an important account, and well worth your time.” —Benjamin Dreyer, New York Times–bestselling author of Dreyer’s English