Another gift that didn’t quite make it: The Dr. Peter Diaries
Peter Jepson-Young, or Dr. Peter as he was known on television, was a doctor from New Westminster. In the summer of 1985, he tested positive for HIV and was immediately concerned with the stigma surrounding the disease.
He approached the CBC with an idea for a TV series that would educate the public about AIDS and dispel its myths during the height of the fears about a growing epidemic. This idea became the Dr. Peter Diaries, a show that documented his day-to-day life living with AIDS over 111 episodes from September 1990 until his death in November of 1992.
Dr. Peter was far from being frightening or evil as stereotype may have suggested. Instead he was friendly, good looking and articulate, and he gave viewers an intimate, honest look into how he experienced HIV/AIDS. He put a very human face on an otherwise frightening disease and in doing so, helped to dispell some of the myths about HIV and AIDS and make it a less taboo subject to talk about.
For an audience of millions worldwide, his was a voice of hope and strength; he talked about celebrating life and family, tolerance, care and compassion and about valuing people that are not typically valued by society: the poor, prostitutes, IV drug users, homosexuals and the native community.
Days before his death on November 15, 1992, the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation was founded to provide care for people living with the disease.