Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care

Front Cover
Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017 - Comics & Graphic Novels - 213 pages

In 1994, at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, MK Czerwiec took her first nursing job, at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, as part of the caregiving staff of HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371. Taking Turns pulls back the curtain on life in the ward.

A shining example of excellence in the treatment and care of patients, Unit 371 was a community for thousands of patients and families affected by HIV and AIDS and the people who cared for them. This graphic novel combines Czerwiec's memories with the oral histories of patients, family members, and staff. It depicts life and death in the ward, the ways the unit affected and informed those who passed through it, and how many look back on their time there today. Czerwiec joined Unit 371 at a pivotal time in the history of AIDS: deaths from the syndrome in the Midwest peaked in 1995 and then dropped drastically in the following years, with the release of antiretroviral protease inhibitors. This positive turn of events led to a decline in patient populations and, ultimately, to the closure of Unit 371. Czerwiec's restrained, inviting drawing style and carefully considered narrative examine individual, institutional, and community responses to the AIDS epidemic--as well as the role that art can play in the grieving process.

Deeply personal yet made up of many voices, this history of daily life in a unique AIDS care unit is an open, honest look at suffering, grief, and hope among a community of medical professionals and patients at the heart of the epidemic.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - villemezbrown - LibraryThing

At first I was put off by the simplistic nature of the art, but as I started reading I simply stopped caring what it looked like as I became riveted by Czerwiec's words. She recounts her time on an ... Read full review

Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Czerwiec, a registered nurse and cofounder of Graphic Medicine, weaves together multiple threads of nonfiction narratives in this profound graphic memoir of her early years as a nurse and her ... Read full review

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About the author (2017)

MK Czerwiec is a nurse who uses comics to contemplate the complexities of illness and caregiving. She is the artist-in-residence at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, co-curator of GraphicMedicine.org, and co-author of Graphic Medicine Manifesto (Penn State, 2015).

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