AIDS Support Group, 1987-1995

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In 1987, two Watauga County physicians and the wife of one began a community-based HIV/AIDS support group. An Appalachian State University student from abroad had gotten sick and ASU doctor Pat Geiger transferred the student from her care to that of Dr. Jack Taylor. According to Dr. Taylor’s wife Terry, “My husband asked me one night if I would go visit him, the patient, in the hospital. Because he felt like he was very lonely and people were very frightened of the fact that he had AIDS. And so I went and visited him in the hospital. And that was the beginning of my involvement with AIDS in Boone, because I visited him like a mother would visit a son.” [1]

The health department referred a transplanted HIV+ couple to the Taylors and shortly afterwards, the Taylors and Dr. Geiger began meeting with several HIV+ individuals. Terry says, “We decided to continue to have our AIDS support group meet in my home, which is a little bit out in the country and away from town, and it was a very well-kept secret.” Keeping the location private was extremely important because no one wanted to be identified as HIV+. Attending in a location that was publically advertized was out of the question.

For the six year that the support group operated out of the Taylors’ house, a wide variety of individuals attended, gay men, IV drug users, hemophiliacs, and some women. The support group also knew of some HIV+ children whose family never attended. The majority were non-symptomatic HIV+ gay ASU students. Many traveled 2 hours away to Winston-Salem to receive medical treatment due to the lack of infectious disease doctors in Watauga County. However, Drs. Taylor and Geiger would examine the support group members to help them decide whether or not to visit the doctor. According to Terry, the number of members fluctuated and eighteen members died over the years.

Several support group members were gay ASU students who were not out to their families and as a result, Terry Taylor sought PFLAG materials about coming out to parents and AIDS. This was the beginning of the Boone chapter of PFLAG.

Upon receiving Ryan White funds, the AIDS support group’s location and facilitators changed to a public setting in the First Baptist Church of Boone. Membership gradually dwindled and within a few years, was no more. Since the 1990s, Watauga County has lacked an AIDS support group. [2]



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  1. Terry Taylor, Appalachian Memory Project, Special Collections Belk Library and Information Commons, Appalachian State University
  2. Terry Taylor, Appalachian Memory Project, Special Collections Belk Library and Information Commons, Appalachian State University