- On July 2, 2015
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Susi Leal occasionally visited Las Memorias, an AIDS hospice in Tijuana that she once called home. An outreach worker for an HIV-related research project, Susi met Victor Mora there in September 2013. They knew each other from the Tijuana River Canal, a place where Susi often looked for people who participated in the El Cuete project, which is run by the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). Victor lived in the canal’s El Bordo neighborhood from time to time—which he hated. “For me, El Bordo is for people that lost hope,” said Victor. “It is a place where you can go down, where you go to die.”
Victor learned he was HIV positive in 2005, when he sought treatment for an infection in his penis. By the time he checked into Las Memorias, his immune system had endured so much damage from the AIDS virus that he knew the disease would kill him if he did not receive medical care. But now he had to wait for the government-run HIV/AIDS clinic, CAPASITS, to determine whether he was eligible for antiretroviral drugs.
Susi too is infected with HIV and, like Victor, turned to Las Memorias when she was in bad shape. She credited the hospice with helping to save her life. With Victor, it was unclear whether he would outlive his stay.