The Interwebs is abuzz with the news that former First Lady Nancy Reagan refused to help actor Rock Hudson secure what could have literally been lifesaving, groundbreaking treatment for AIDS in Paris in 1985.

The Guardian reports that Hudson had flown to France in July 1985 to seek experimental treatment with the drug HPA-23, which was unavailable in the U.S., when he collapsed at the Ritz Hotel.

His publicist contacted his old friends the Reagans in the White House, in an attempt to speed up a transfer to a military hospital, to be seen by Dr. Dominique Dormant. The commanding officer of the Percy military hospital in Clamart initially refused to admit Hudson, because he was not a French citizen.

Original documents from the time, obtained from the Reagan Presidential Library by the a gay rights group the Mattachine Society, reveal that Hudson's U.S. publicist, Dale Olson, sent a telegram to the Reagans at the White House pleading for help on 24 July. It stated: "Only one hospital in the world can offer necessary medical treatment to save life of Rock Hudson or at least alleviate his illness."

Hudson had been denied permission to enter the hospital because he was not French, but Olson added that they believed "a request from the White House or a high American official would change [the head of the hospital's] mind."

But according to documents published by Buzzfeed today, First Lady Nancy Reagan refused the request.

"I spoke with Mrs. Reagan about the attached telegram. She did not feel this was something the White House should get into and agreed to my suggestion that we refer the writer to the U.S. Embassy, Paris," replied White House Staffer Mark Weinberg about the telegram.

Although only a handful of people knew it, Hudson was desperately seeking treatment for AIDS. He died a few months later, on October 2, 1985, the first high-profile publicly acknowledged death from AIDS.

"Seems strange that the Reagans used that excuse, since they often did favors for their Hollywood friends during their White House years," early ACT UP member Peter Staley told BuzzFeed News. "I'm sure if it had been Bob Hope in that hospital with some rare, incurable cancer, Air Force One would have been dispatched to help save him. There's no getting around the fact that they left Rock Hudson out to dry. As soon as he had that frightening homosexual disease, he became as unwanted and ignored as the rest of us."

From our media partner EDGE


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