- Goldmine: Root
- Oral History Collections
- Charlotte LGBTQ+ oral histories
- James Horton oral history interview, 2016, December 22
James Horton oral history interview, 2016, December 22
Dr. James M. Horton, former Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte North Carolina, discusses his career, and in particular his work and long association with treating HIV/AIDS in the Charlotte region. Dr. Horton describes the circumstances that first led him to Charlotte in 1984, when he began work as an infectious disease specialist at the Nalle Clinic. He recalls the fears, misunderstanding, and stigma that characterized HIV/AIDS, especially during the initial years when the disease was not understood and when there were no successful treatments. He stresses the frustration of not being able to help patients during this time, and he notes the contradiction between the reality of HIV/AIDS and the hubris of the infectious disease field of the late 1970s which considered that all infections could be cured. Dr. Horton relates how he became involved with the Metrolina AIDS Project, (MAP) Charlotte's first AIDS service organization, and his connection to the founder, Les Kooyman. In addition to treating patients and supporting the work of MAP, Dr. Horton also describes his involvement in clinical trials for HIV/AIDS drugs, and the success of the controversial testing of drugs to prevent babies from contracting HIV in utero. Dr. Horton reflects on the influence that religion had on the experience of HIV/AIDS in the Charlotte region. He notes that religion affected public attitudes in positive and negative ways. Certain religious beliefs led to condemnation and abandonment of AIDS patients by their families and churches, but other religious responses, as for example the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN), were compassionate and embracing. Dr. Horton also relates the conflicting ideas about sex education during the 1980s and 1990s, and his own conviction at the time that the local model of sex education in schools was insufficient to prevent young people from contracting sexually transmitted diseases.