Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 250
My Own Country by Abraham Verghese relates the personal experience of a young Indian doctor who travels to a small mountain community in Tennessee and begins caring for AIDS patients, primarily gay men. The story was written in the 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic was escalating, as was the fear and prejudice that surrounded it. Fear of homosexuality was on the rise as well, fueled by fundamental Christian rhetoric that condemned homosexuality as evil and promoted the idea that the annihilation of homosexuals was part of God’s plan.
Verghese reveals the heartbreak of the disease by relating the personal stories of his patients and their families. Moreover, he stresses the stigma that surrounds the disease and that inflames political, medical, and social issues, thus hindering treatment for many. Verghese’s story does more than highlight the complexity of the AIDS epidemic in America, however; it also provides a unique perspective by telling the stories of people who were personally affected by the disease but embraced traditional stereotypes about homosexuality.
When Verghese arrives in town, it is 1985, and he finds himself struggling to heal people who suffer in the sociopolitical climate. Many people feel isolated by the disease and feel they have to keep their conditions secret, as they face the fear and hostility of medical professionals who refuse to treat AIDS patients. Verghese embraces the belief in treating the whole patient, which he believes to be particularly important for AIDS patients who suffer attacks on both body and spirit.
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