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Expert patients: learning from HIV
  1. Molly Cooke
  1. Correspondence to Dr Molly Cooke, UCSF, Box 0563 LR-102, San Francisco, CA 94143-0563, USA; mcooke{at}


The outbreak of HIV in the early 1980s saw widespread activism among patients and community supporters. The author, a young physician in San Francisco at the time, describes how coming of age as a clinician in the midst of this activism affected her concept of the patient–physician relationship. The insistence of a particular patient, Robert, on specifying his treatment goals illustrates that even people with substantial cognitive challenges can participate in their own care in an egalitarian and active manner.

  • Physician–patient relations
  • patient-centred care
  • patient participation
  • communication
  • health professions education
  • patient-centred

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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