After pressure from her family she entered a rehab programme - and declared herself penniless to enter treatment on public welfare. Bruises on her body suggested she had been badly beaten up. Her symptoms were those of pneumonia, but blood tests showed she had Aids related complex (ARC), a precursor to Aids.But when she left treatment six months later she went back on the heroin, and in increasing amounts. It was the early days of the virus and nurses and orderlies donned rubber gloves or "space suits" before entering her room, and wiped the phone every time she used it. For a moment Gia - with her pale skin, limpid brown eyes and dark brown mane of coarse cuts and waves - redefined the fashion industry's standard of beauty.We did a lot of drugs and went to a lot of parties. We were both constantly on trips, which I think saved my life, because you don't do drugs when you travel. We brought a whole medicine kit."Gia's appointment book from 1980 contains a misspelt reminder to "Get Heroine".In 1981 she was arrested - for driving under the influence of a narcotic.At the end of a day's shooting she often went back to her empty New York apartment."The biggest mistake we made was that nobody went up there with her," her brother, Michael, told her biographer, Stephen Fried, later."The one person Gia always wanted something from was her mother - and she just never felt like she got it."Her public wildness was underpinned by a private loneliness.
"The problem was that people were more interested in hiding the marks than helping her," said Gia's former lover, Elyssa Stewart, who says the problem persists in the industry but that models now shoot heroin under their toenails or tongue, where track marks cannot be detected.Though, later in life, her mother returned to her, Gia never got over her sense of abandonment."Gia did a lot of things just to get her mother's attention," one friend later said.What changed was that Gia started going directly from ,000-a-day fashion shoots to the heroin shooting galleries on New York's Lower East Side.One top photographer called her "a trashy little street kid".In May that year, at just 21, Gia required surgery on her hand because, according to Stephen Fried, "she had injected herself in the same place so many times that there was an open infected tunnel leading into her vein".