David Malebranche
7 min readNov 29, 2021

“I’m really sorry to reach out like this, David, but I’m worried about my brother. I think he has AIDS.”

I wasn’t prepared for that call from your sister. She was only 11 years old when we were together. She’s 40 now.

It had been a year since you and I last spoke. I was driving back to Atlanta from upstate New York. You told me you were recently discharged from a hospital for what you described as blood clots and an allergic reaction. Your voice, weak and raspy, reiterated repeatedly that you were on the mend and didn’t need help from anyone, particularly your family. You came from a strict religious upbringing. I knew what that meant.

I asked you if the hospital staff had tested you for COVID-19.

“Three times. All negative,” you told me.

I asked about HIV testing. Again, you stated the testing was negative in the hospital.

I believed you and tried my best to be supportive. I don’t know how successful I was.

Over a year later, your sister was reaching out, worried that you were at the end stages of HIV. The apartment manager had contacted her about finding your unit unkempt and you in a deteriorated state. Feces and food were scattered on the floor. They offered to bring you to the hospital. When you refused, she called me. I told her to push the apartment manager to get…