From "outstanding" to "tragic hero" to "cuckoo," Sonnabend's an original
Richard Berkowitz, Journalist Joe has been my
doctor for 20 years. Knowing how important sex was to me, in 1982 he
told me, "Don't get any more sperm inside your rectum and I think
you'll be OK." In the darkest days of panic and despair, he handed
me hope. Then in 1987, everywhere you turned, the unrelenting
message was to run and get your AZT -- but Joe convinced me to stay
off the bandwagon. His eternal optimism with respect to surviving an
AIDS diagnosis with quality of life, dignity and a healthy sexual
appetite has a slut like me welcoming the new millennium with more
CD4 cells than I had in 1983. Dr.
Robert Gallo, Virologist Sonnabend
introduced the epidemic to many scientists. While initially we sat
on two opposite poles, we're now studying the same thing. We got off
on the wrong foot because of his original beliefs about the virus,
but he is long beyond that now -- he knows HIV causes AIDS.
Cox, Treatment Action Group Joe is an
iconoclast, but unlike other less-informed rebels, he's not
unsusceptible to data. The most important thing I learned from him
is the scientific mindset: Look at the evidence, figure out what it
means, and decide what's missing. And he's taught that mindset to
many other AIDS advocates and doctors as well.
Duesberg, Molecular biologist Sonnabend
was one of the first to question the HIV hypothesis. For that he
should be commended. But he lost dearly: His lab, his influence, his
editorship -- he became an outcast in the AIDS community. Lately
he's become fairly critical of me. He's found a more middle ground
and developed a new, more "multifaceted" hypothesis. I'm not
condemning him. There is such pressure to conform -- people give in
after a while. I give him credit for raising his voice, but I'm
disappointed he didn't follow through.
Rotello, Author Sonnabend is one of the
most important people in the history of AIDS prevention. He helped
invent safe sex as we know it. Having done that, he's saved more
lives of more gay men than anyone. For that he deserves a place of
honor. We followed his advice as best we could at the time, but if
we had followed it earlier, I believe the outcome of the epidemic
would have been less tragic.
Krim, AmFAR cofounder What did
Sonnabend contribute? He contributed me. He was the one who alerted
me to the problem. I remember the day in the early '80s when Joe
came to me and said, ";I've lost my stature as a physician. I have
patients with big lymph nodes and high fevers, and they don't get
better. What's strange is they're all young, gay men."; He's the
only doctor I know who goes to every funeral. From the beginning,
Joe said the government was wrong to give money to academic clinical
research -- people who had no contact with the disease.
Cardinale, CRIA former director Joe's
safe-sex piece with Callen and Berkowitz was one of the first times
that people who were gay and affected by AIDS spoke out. It was
extremely unpopular at the time, but it started the ball rolling
toward early prevention. He clearly inspired me as well as some of
the more dedicated activists who have focused their lives on AIDS.
What was he like to work with? I don't think I should comment on
Garrett, Journalist Joe has a very
strong sense of conscience. He has pushed and prodded and provoked
the medical community to put the patients first. From the back of
the room at esoteric virology conferences, he would get up and yell,
";Hey, what about the patients?"; His theories haven't always been
correct, and he's always had a style that could be off-putting.
Basically, he is what he is, and you either dig it or you don't. But
he doesn't make it easy.
Wicker, Activist Some years ago I had a
$2 million medical policy and a lover dying of AIDS. In the
hospitals, doctors would come in for five minutes and charge us
$250. Joe was a completely different story. He came all the way out
to Jersey and wouldn't let me pay him anything. He's the kind of
doctor who gives medicine a noble name, but he's not the kind of guy
you'd notice in a crowd. But when he used to walk in AIDS marches,
people would applaud when he went by. He is a living saint.
Farber, Journalist I sat next to Joe at
the 1993 Berlin conference when the Concorde results were announced.
And all the AIDS kings were lined up at the podium -- Martin
Delaney, somebody from TAG and a few hard-core AZT doctors. They
kept using all the buzzwords: reassessment, confusion. And Joe was
livid. ";You bastards,"; he muttered under his breath. ";There was
never any confusion. You're the ones who caused the confusion. God,
they're all so dishonest."; ";Say it,"; I whispered. ";Stand up and
say it, Joe."; And he almost did, but he didn't. That's the thing
about Joe. He always forgives them. Almost like a parent would. The
tragedy -- in the purest sense of the word -- of the AIDS epidemic
is recorded in him. But who can he tell it to?
Anthony Fauci, NIAID director Joe has
been there from the very beginning. He is one of the true soldiers
in the war against HIV. He is a model for a real translation of care
to the patient. In terms of the controversy surrounding his work, I
think, in general, at the end of the day, most would agree that his
contributions have been positive. He is an outstanding man.
Morales, Sean Strub's partner Joseph
Sonnabend is cuckoo -- like Einstein.