The Catholic Hospital that Pioneered AIDS Care

by | Dec 21, 2019 | News

In “Plague,” journalist Michael O’Loughlin investigates the untold stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church. 

In the second episode of “Plague,” Mike tells the story of St. Vincent’s which was based in the famously artistic, gay neighborhood of the city: Greenwich Village. Today it is remembered as one of the most important hospitals in the AIDS epidemic because it took in low-income and homeless patients suffering from the disease who had nowhere else to go. The hospital became a place where the gay community came together to visit their friends, partners and families, to mourn and to organize.

In this episode Mike asks: how did this Catholic hospital become a safe haven for the gay community? It turns out, the path wasn’t straightforward. Featured voices include Dr. Ramon Torres, the young gay physician hired by the sisters to lead the AIDS clinic; Gerri Wells, an ACT UP protester; and Karen Helfenstein, S.C., the soft-spoken sister who served as St. Vincent’s vice president for mission.

You can listen to this episode by clicking here and pressing the “play” button under the picture of St. Vincent’s hospital, OR you can listen to “Plague” on Apple Podcasts here, on Google Play here, or on Spotify here.

Mike is America’s national correspondent and he’s covered Catholicism for more than a decade. Mike is also gay and Catholic—and he’s curious how others manage this sometimes complex identity.

Through dozens of interviews and archival research, he’s found that no time in modern history was more volatile for gay Catholics than the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Mike met with people who were right there, in the middle of the early days of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the United States. People who fought, worked and grieved their ways through this trying time. You can listen to the trailer and first two episodes below, and subscribe to the podcast to get each new episode as it is released.

Source: America, the Jesuit Review

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