Ep. 58 HIV & COVID: History Repeats Itself

In This Episode

The response by the federal government to COVID-19 has been too little, too late – and this is not the first time our elected officials have ignored an emergency of this magnitude.

In today’s episode, Neal discusses the parallels between the government response to COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS with Dr. Steven Ball, a mental health professional who was on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic.

They also talk about the support and therapy groups Steve used to hold for gay men who were living in fear of contracting HIV, how politics play a role in crisis management, and why so many people are in denial of the severity of COVID-19.

Other topics discussed include how we can use this time to learn about ourselves, how to maintain emotional stamina, and about the importance of accepting the changes this crisis will bring to society in the long run.

Topics Discussed

  • How he got into activism and therapy
  • Leading group therapy sessions for gay men during the AIDS epidemic
  • What we learned about disease response from AIDS
  • The response to Ebola
  • Politicizing the pandemic
  • Lack of PPE
  • Denial as a coping mechanism
  • Knowing what kind of risk taker you are
  • Emotional stamina
  • Accepting the changes to society this pandemic will bring

All About Steve Ball

Dr. Ball has been working in the field of mental health for over 30 years.

During his career, he has integrated expertise in psychotherapy (MSW, PhD) and expressive art therapies (MA) to create a private practice that is equal parts men and women, straight and gay, and individuals and couples work.

He has taught in graduate programs in mental health, education and social work – the last ten years of which have been at both NYU and Hunter School of Social Work.

Over the decades, he has been a frequent speaker at conferences, and published his experiences and research in HIV prevention, developing groups for special populations, and couples therapy.

Steve is currently writing his second book, based on his research and practice experience with varied types of couples; an exploration of what gay couples can learn from straight couples and what straight couples can learn from gay couples as we evolve a vision of relationships for the 21st century.

Dr. Ball maintains offices in Greenwich Village and the Flatiron District, NYC


Dr. Neal Smoller, Holistic Pharmacist

About Neal Smoller

Dr. Neal Smoller, PharmD, is a licensed pharmacist: and owner of Village Apothecary, an independent pharmacy in the most famous small town in America—Woodstock, NY. He’s also the host of the popular wellness podcast, The Big Mouth Pharmacist.”


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