25 Stories: Elaine Cox
February 20, 2012
Dr. Elaine Cox has been an HIV care provider for 16 years, specializing in pediatric HIV. She only planned to do it for a short time, but it quickly became her life’s work. She remembers when even doctors were afraid of people with HIV 16 years ago, and how end of life care was the only option.
“Our biggest sadness is when our patients leave pediatric care and go to the adult side – which is a great problem to have!” Dr. Cox says, smiling. With the current medications on the market for HIV, these children can go on to have a long, healthy life.
But Dr. Cox notes that though HIV is a medical disease, there’s an entire social aspect to it. “We do still see some bullying and ostracizing. We see some families where, if a family’s [HIV] status gets out, an apartment is suddenly no longer available.”
Despite the hardships, Dr. Cox knows that there’s hope. Her patients are going to college, getting scholarships, and doing very well. “They’re overcoming all sorts of obstacles!”
Like her patients, Dr. Cox is also conquering hurdles; to combat stigma and normalize HIV testing, she helped start a legislative effort to get prenatal HIV screenings for pregnant mothers. It passed.
Pausing to reflect on her work in the HIV community, she remembers thinking that being in the HIV field in the 1990s was just a phase in her career. “Sometimes, you fall into the best of things without ever knowing it.”