In the 1980s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic hit America with indescribable force. Unprepared and uneducated about the disease, panic and assumptions spread like wildfire, even through the healthcare field. Doctors and other healthcare professionals refused to treat these patients, and even as the disease’s cause became known, stigmatized and dehumanized many sufferers, labeling them and passing judgment (as many of them were homosexual men, or IV drug users).

My mother, Dr. Barbara Chaffee, whose life work, spanning over two decades, centered around helping HIV/AIDS patients in and around the Binghamton, NY area, passed away in March 2013 after a long battle with breast cancer. She is greatly missed by her family, friends, co-workers and patients, but her legacy lives on in the many HIV/AIDS resources and programs she started in the Binghamton community to help her patients have access to quality care, without fear of judgment. She believed that medical care should be extended to anyone in need, and that all patients deserved respect. At a time when others turned away, she opened her arms to people in need, and embraced a community of HIV/AIDS sufferers and their families.

Since the early days of HIV/AIDS, many documentaries have been made chronicling the crisis, the lack of government response, the effect on the communities of San Francisco and New York and other major urban environments. But I want to make a film about who the crisis impacts a smaller town. I want to talk about these HIV/AIDS patients who essentially moved back to their native communities to die. I want to tell the story of my Mom and her community, one that she loved and dedicated her life to. One that she cared about until the very end.

Please watch the trailer, check us out, and explore the website for ways to get involved.

Thank you,
Tim Chaffee
Director, Filmmaker, Binghamton Native

Articles

Ebola and Fear

Today's Ebola crisis and AIDS


Videos

Teaser #1

Am I running from this?

Teaser #2

When did HIV hit Binghamton N.Y.?

Teaser #3

How do you deal with it?

1989 October 15th

For me, the greatest mandate to serve those infected in this epidemic, to serve without judgment or labeling, is Christ’s word that if we ignore the needy, we have ignored Him; if we serve the needy, we have served Him.

Barbara Chaffee

1991 TV Interview

I think that from the beginning, in this country, IV drug users and gay men were both affected early on but the IV drug users were not recognized as much. Partly because they tended to be of a socio-economic class that was not getting very good medical care anyway.

Barbara Chaffee

2012 Interview

I think the theme that goes through all the different things I did was that I enjoy taking care of people that other people didn’t want to take care of just cause you have the sense that you’re doing something for someone who’s in need of care and may not be able to get it elsewhere.

Barbara Chaffee