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Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Man Who Couldn’t Catch Aids Killed Himself

In the early dawn of the 1980 s, a gay man named Stephen Crohn started to wonder why he himself had not contracted a terrible disease after his boyfriend’s, and several other close friend's deaths from a new virus that was plaguing the gay community.

After receiving many more perplexing negative test results for the deadly virus over the coming years, Crohn decided to track down a researcher in the field to test his blood, and in 1996 after 14 years of wondering why he was so graced and not others, scientists discovered that Stephen Crohn was indeed gifted in this world with a genetic mutation that made his blood cells impervious to the Aids virus.

When learning of his bitter sweet gift, Crohn immediately and enthusiastically volunteered in several studies involving the genetic mutation that was hidden in his blood to help pave the way for new drugs to combat and slow down the progression of the disease.

Remarkably and coincidentally, the man who is noted to have discovered Crohn’s disease, Burrill Crohn, was Stephen Crohn’s great uncle. Stephen Crohn was an idealist painter, sculptor and artist along with working as an editor for Fodor’s travel guides. He went on to become a social worker and ran support groups for Aids patients and other terminally ill patients at the same Mount Sinai in New York that his famous great uncle Burrill Crohn was established at so many decades before.

Unfortunately his important work with the ill might have been too much of an overwhelming reminder of the constant grief and devastating personal toll from the Aids virus that took over 70 of his friends and companions over the years.

On August 24 of 2013, Stephen Crohn committed suicide at the age of 66 in New York City. Crohn in the end gave back to god the gift he was given; that gift must have seemed to Crohn as more of a curse than a blessing over the long painful years.

A clue into the obvious survival guilt and unbearable grief that seemed to stem from Crohn’s incredible personal loss, due to the disease that he himself was impervious to, was a 1999 Nova documentary on PBS in which Crohn stated:

 "What's hard is living with the continuous grief,” an unbearable grief that was able to do what even Aids was powerless to do – kill the man who could not catch Aids.