But the energy that is me will not be lost

But the energy that is me will not be lost. ~ Dr. Peter; Vancouver Aids Memorial, Sunset Beach, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
But the energy that is me will not be lost

~ Dr. Peter


Vancouver Aids Memorial
Sunset Beach
British Columbia, Canada, 2013

He went by the name, Dr. Peter. He was a physician who contracted AIDS early in the epidemic. I remember him for the series of broadcasts he did with CBC television, each episode chronicling one or another aspect of his life as affected by HIV/AIDS. It was a time of fear and bigotry, misunderstanding, misinformation and rampant homophobia. The hatred and violence against gay men was often disturbing, especially since I lived in Vancouver’s West End, the center of the gay community here. What you didn’t hear on the news, you heard on the street.

In all this, his voice was a note of calm and reason. He made no secret of his orientation, nor did he make it an issue. His broadcasts were poignantly matter-of-fact, as he dealt with the battery of medications he was being treated with, the loss of his health, his eyesight, and eventually his life. But never his dignity, his insight, his humanity or his compassion. It was a singular act of courageous generosity, and today, still, I stand in awe of him.

Dr. Peter Jepson-Young knew first-hand that people living with HIV and AIDS have many needs far greater than just survival. Before his death in 1992, he established the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation.

Peter was a young Vancouver physician diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1985. When his condition became too debilitating to continue practising medicine, he sought to inform and educate the public and others living with HIV/AIDS via The Dr. Peter Diaries. In 111 television episodes broadcast on CBC TV over two years, Dr. Peter used honesty, pathos and humour to share his experience, bringing a human face and a human touch to the epidemic at a time when too few knew the difference between myth and medical reality.

Peter believed that there was no substitute for the ongoing involvement and support of caring people. He saw the landscape of HIV and AIDS changing and knew the needs of those affected would become more complex.

The Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation was established by Dr. Peter Jepson-Young just prior to his death in 1992.

All 111 Dr. Peter episodes are available online here via the CBC website.