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October 17, 1990

Meet Kimberly Bergalis—the patient in the `dental AIDS case'

JAMA. 1990;264(15):2018-2019. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450150120049

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AS WE step into the courtyard for a photo shoot, my camera lens fogs up from the steamy South Florida air, and the face of Kimberly Bergalis, 22, the patient in the now-famous "dental AIDS case," appears in blurred focus.

Her face looks radiant, but it is a mirage. Suffering from advanced AIDS, Bergalis has lost 30 pounds and now weighs in at only 102. The cheekbones are pronounced in her once-chubby face, and the thick hair that once hung down to her waist is close-cropped and thinning. Last night, she ran a fever of 103.4°. Her T4-cell counts are down to a mere 43, making her defenseless prey to the opportunistic microbes that attack a depleted immune system.

Still, she is soldiering on with a full schedule of media appearances to emphasize her belief that patients can acquire AIDS from health care workers, and that the quotation marks in