When a society designs a system to help only the very most helpless and needy, there will be unintended consequences. For example, there are people willing to go to jail to receive health care, and others become disabled because there aren't enough jobs. Now Out magazine tells us about men in New York City who contract AIDS and found that it improved their lives. Tye Fortner was a 22-year-old homeless sex worker who found out he was infected.
“My whole world changed,” Fortner says, recalling the moment six years ago when he received his diagnosis. At first it changed for the worse as he struggled to come to terms with his diagnosis.
But then, it changed for the better.
After years of homelessness and a day-to-day existence, Fortner, now 28, was faced with the tantalizing prospect of a place to sleep, regular meals, and more thorough New York City services provided to people who reach a certain stage of the disease. First he would have to meet their diagnosis requirements; then he would receive help.
“I didn’t know about the services,” he says. “I didn’t know that once you have AIDS you’re entitled to all this other stuff.”
That silver lining was a surprise to Fortner. And while it might seem counterintuitive, contracting the virus has made life easier for other young homeless men in New York City, who in return for developing full-blown AIDS gain a roof over their heads and basic services.