History

June 5, 1981
CDC Reports Initial Cases of HIV in Los Angeles

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports cases of a rare lung infection, Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia (PCP), in five young, previously healthy, gay men in Los Angeles.

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The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) describes the men as having other unusual infections as well, indicating that their immune systems are compromised. Two of the give young men have already died by the time the report is published.

This edition of the MMWR marks the first official reporting of what will become known as the AIDS epidemic. The initial five-patient series was reported to the CDC by Dr. Michael Gottlieb, a member of the Council of Advisors to the AIDS Monument.

Today, Dr. Gottlieb is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and still treats patients exclusively at APLA (AIDS Project Los Angeles) Health.

Following Gottlieb’s report to the CDC, he and his team would publish a more detailed report in the New England Journal of Medicine December 10,  1981.

Now it is known that HIV originated much earlier, in 1920, likely in the Democratic Republic of Congo around when HIV crossed species from chimpanzees to humans. Up until the 1980s, we do not know how many people were infected with HIV or developed AIDS.

While sporadic cases of AIDS were documented prior to 1970, available data suggests that the epidemic started in the mid- to late 1970s. By 1980, HIV may have already spread to five continents (North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Australia), and in this period, between 100,000 and 300,000 people could have already been infected

 

1981
Rare Kaposi’s Sarcoma Found among Gay Men in NY & CA

New York City dermatologist Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien calls CDC to report a cluster of cases of a rare and unusually aggressive cancer — Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) — among gay men in New York and California.

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Like pnuemocytis carinii pneumonia (PCP), KS is associated with people who have weakened immune systems.

Dr. Friedman-Kien told New York magazine in January 1987:

“In February 1981, I saw a young man who was perfectly healthy except for a number of spots on his skin….  I’d never seen anything like it, so I did a biopsy. Under the microscope, the cell structure was clear. It was’ Kaposi’s sarcoma.

“A week later, another physician sent me another patient, also a gay man in his late thirties, also with disseminated KS,” he said, explaining that each spot is a separate tumor.

June 8, 1981
CDC Report Receives Nationwide Media Attention

News media begin to report out on the MMWR article, and within days, CDC receives reports from around the U.S. of similar cases of opportunistic infections among gay men.

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News stories in the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle capture the attention of the gay community and medical personnel nationwide.

In response to the outpouring of reports and concerns to the CDC, the Task Force on Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections is created to identify risk factors and to develop a case definition for the as-yet-unnamed syndrome.

June 16, 1981
First Person with AIDS Admitted to NIH

A 35-year-old, white gay man exhibiting symptoms of severe immunodeficiency is the first person with AIDS to be admitted to the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health. He dies at the Center on October 28, 1981.

July 1, 1981
Doctors Identify More Cases in San Francisco & New York City

As his first day as an oncologist at San Francisco General Hospital, Dr. Paul Volberding treats his first HIV-positive patient, a 22-year-old man with Kaposi sarcoma.

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After completing a three-year fellowship at the University of California San Francisco, Dr. Volberding was ready to become a cancer specialist under renowned virologist Dr. Jay Levy.  Instead, he would find himself on a lifelong journey of treating people living with HIV/AIDS and fighting the spread of the virus.

Dr. Volberding remembers his first patient with clarity.

“Twenty-two-year-old man, grew up in the Deep South, and as I recall he was estranged from his family,” Dr. Volberding tells the San Francisco Examiner almost 35 years later. “He ended up in San Francisco working basically sex for food, and had innumerable previous sexually transmitted infections.”

The man died within a few months, without his family present, Dr. Volberding recalls.

Around this same time, two doctors in the Bronx start to see HIV/AIDS symptoms in their patients.  Dr. Gerald Friedland sees cases of Pneumocystis pneumonia in injection drug users, and becomes one of the first to see the connection between IV-drug use and HIV transmission.

Pediatric immunologist Dr. Arye Rubenstein begins to identify the immunodeficiency of his pediatric patients, the children of drug addicts, as a symptom of what would be eventually called AIDS.

Dr. Rubenstein, who has been seeing this particular kind of immunodeficiency in children and sometimes in their mothers in his Bronx practice since the late 1970s, is one of the first to connect pediatric cases to the new disease affecting homosexual men.

These doctors who treat some of the first known cases of HIV/AIDS go on to do important, transformative work in the fields of treatment, research and public health policy.

In 1983, Dr. Volberding would establish what would make San Francisco General Hospital the model for HIV care: the country’s first AIDS treatment center (Ward 86).  Later the same year, he would join the medical team at Ward 5B, the first in-patient clinic for AIDS patients in the world.

Dr. Volberding would continue to treat HIV/AIDS patients until 2012, when he would become Director of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute.  Volberding would also become Co-Director of the Center for AIDS Research.

Dr. Friedland also would dedicate his life to AIDS treatment and research.  Following 10 years of working with HIV/AIDS patients in the Bronx, Dr. Friedland would become Director of the HIV/AIDS Program at Yale and Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine.

Dr. Friedland would also become involved in HIV/AIDS international research aimed at providing access to antiretroviral therapy in developing regions of the world.  The major focus of his work becomes the integration of HIV and TB care and treatment in co-infected patients in South Africa.

In 2018, on the occasion of delivering the keynote address at the 13th annual International Conference on HIV Treatment and Prevention, Dr. Friedland would tell TheBodyPRO:

“Many of these people living with HIV, I have cared for, for decades.  I know them extremely well. They know me.  We have gone through this together and have this close collegial relationship as a partnership, so it’s a wondrous pleasure to continue to provide.”

The other doctor working in New York City in 1981, Dr. Rubenstein, would decide to remain in the Bronx, caring for children with HIV AIDS.

He would receive a grant in 1983 from the National Institutes for Health to study the incidence of AIDS in women and children. In 1986, Dr. Rubenstein would establish that transmission of AIDS can occur in utero, and his breakthrough findings are published in the journal Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology.

By this time, Dr. Rubsenstein has treated more than a hundred HIV-infected children, and in the summer of 1985, he would open a day care center for pediatric AIDS patients at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx.  He would become Chief of the Division of Allergy & Immunology at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology at Albert Einstein College.

In a 1987 interview with New York magazine, he would speak fondly of the parents, many of them former IV-drug users, of his pediatric patients:

“Many come from a low socioeconomic group, they’re poor, the family may have broken up, they may have used drugs, and now their child has AIDS because they gave it to him.  You wouldn’t be surprised if they threw up their hands, but many don’t.  They become the best parents in the world.  They straighten out their lives, they spend hours with their kids. They give up longing for material things and look for spiritual and religious values.”

 

July 2, 1981
Mention of ‘Gay Men’s Pneumonia’ Appears in Media

The Bay Area Reporter, a weekly newspaper for the gay and lesbian community in San Francisco, publishes the first mention of “Gay Men’s Pneumonia.”

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The short item encourages gay men who are experiencing progressive shortness of breath to see their physicians.

July 3, 1981
‘Gay Cancer’ Enters the HIV/AIDS Lexicon

Coinciding with the CDC’s release of another MMWR detailing opportunistic infections among gay men, The New York Times publishes the article “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals.” At this point, the term “gay cancer ” enters the public lexicon.

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The CDC report, titled “Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis Pneumonia Among Homosexual Men — New York City and California,” described cases of KS and PCP (nuemocytis carinii pneumonia) among 26 gay men (25 white and one black).

August 4, 1981
Elizabeth Glaser Receives Blood Transfusion during Childbirth Process

A pregnant Elizabeth Glaser, wife of television star Paul Michael Glaser is rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to give birth to her first child.  She hemorrhages heavily during labor and requires a transfusion of seven pints of blood.

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A former teacher who works as Exhibit Director of the LA Children’s Museum, Glaser asks her doctor about the mysterious disease reported recently in the press, and her doctor assures her: “Your nightmare is over.”

In 1985, daughter Ariel would experience persistent stomach pains and doctors are unable to determine the source.  The four-year-old is tested for HIV “as just a precaution,” and the results come back positive for the virus.

Each member of the Glaser family is then tested, and would result in the additional HIV diagnosis of mother Elizabeth and 18-month-old son Jake.

Doctors determine that Elizabeth contracted HIV during the 1981 blood transfusion, and Elizabeth had unknowingly passed the virus on to Ariel through breastfeeding.  Jake, who was born in October 1984, had contracted the virus in utero.

When Elizabeth seeks counseling for Ariel, she discovers that no child psychiatrist will take the case. Aware of the stigma of AIDS, the Glasers pull Ariel out of nursery school and erect a wall of secrecy to protect their children.

In August 1989 (one year after Ariel dies of AIDS-related illness), the National Enquirer and other tabloids would threaten the Glaser family with exposure.

Elizabeth Glaser would share her harrowing story in her 1991 autobiography, In the Absence of Angels.  She and two frinds would start the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and she would become one of the most aggressive and effective pediatric AIDS activists in the country.

August 11, 1981
Larry Kramer Hosts First Meeting to Discuss Pandemic

Acclaimed writer and film producer Larry Kramer holds a meeting of over 80 gay men in his New York City apartment.

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Invited speaker Dr. Friedman-Kien asks the attendees to contribute money to support his research, because he has no access to rapid funding.  The plea raises $6,635 — essentially the only new money, public or private, that will be raised to fight the epidemic for the remainder of the year.

August 28, 1981
CDC Reports that 40% of Identified Cases Die of KS/PCP

Of the 108 known cases of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, 107 are male and 94% of those whose sexual orientation is known are gay/bisexual.  About 40% of all patients have already died.

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The MMWR article, “Follow-Up on Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis Pneumonia,” reports that CDC received information on 70 additional cases of KS and/or PCP since its July 3 edition, making a total of 108 known cases.

September 15, 1981
Medical Conference is First to Address Epidemic

The National Cancer Institute and CDC cosponsor the first conference to address the new epidemic.

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Fifty leading clinicians attend the event in Bethesda to discuss KS and other opportunistic infections and begin to develop recommendations for further studies in epidemiology, virology, and treatment.

September 21, 1981
World’s First AIDS Clinic Opens in San Francisco

Bay Area dermatologist Dr. Marcus Conant oversees the opening of the Kaposi’s Sarcoma clinic at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, the first clinic to exclusively treat what would become to be known as AIDS.

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Dr. Conant  co-directs the clinic with oncologist Dr. Paul Volberding, with support from their colleagues Dr. Constance Wofsy and Dr. Donald Abrams.  Collectively, the physicians will guide much of the early response to AIDS in San Francisco.

Dr. Conant would go on to create the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (first called the Kaposi’s Sarcoma Research and Education Foundation) to address both the need to go into the community, which was still in denial, and the need to find non-government funding sources.

1981
Young Legislative Aide Steers AIDS Policy in California

Gay activist Stan Hadden joins the Office of California Senate President Pro Tempore David Roberti.  Legislative staffers soon regard the 25-year-old policy wonk as the “unofficial AIDS czar,” and Hadden goes on to author much of the state’s AIDS-related legislation.

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As fierce fighter for HIV/AIDS policy, Haddon would be credited with shepharding the creation of the California AIDS Advisory Committee in 1983 and 1985 legislation which brings a coordinated approach to local HIV/AIDS programs and services.

Hadden was one of only a few in Sacramento who were open about their LGBT identity, journalist Karen Ocamb would later write in The Pride.  Scores of administrative and political aides to California legislators remained in the closet, fearful that open knowledge of their sexual identity would end their professional careers.  Elected officials and potential candidates who identified s LGBT also remained silenced by the very real fear of ruination.

December 2, 1981
Bobby Campbell Publishes ‘Gay Cancer Journal’

Bobbi Campbell, a San Francisco nurse, becomes the first Kaposi’s Sarcoma patient to go public with his diagnosis, sharing his story & photos in the San Francisco Sentinel.

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Calling himself the “KS Poster Boy,” Campbell started his column “Gay Cancer Journal” in December 1981 to describe his experiences living with KS and to urge gay men experiencing symptoms to seek medical attention.

1981
Pediatric AIDS Cases Surface in New York City

At Albert Einstein Medical College in New York, pediatric immunologist Dr. Arye Rubinstein treats five black infants showing signs of severe immune deficiency, including pnuemocytis carinii pneumonia (PCP).

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The mothers of at least three of the children have disclosed that they use drugs and/or engage in sex work.  Dr. Rubinstein recognizes that the children are showing signs of the same illnesses affecting gay men, but his diagnoses are dismissed by his colleagues.

December 20, 1981
‘Dreamgirls’ Opens on Broadway

“Dreamgirls” makes a splashy debue on Broadway with stars Jennifer Holliday and Sheryl Lee Ralph, who both get involved fighting AIDS after some of heir cast mates become sick and die.

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The successful debut of “Dreamgirls” marks career breakthroughs for Holliday and Ralph, but also begins a time of great loss.

In addition to cast members, “Dreamgirls” Director Michael Bennett would die of AIDS-related illness on July 2, 1987 at the age of 44.  He would be diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 and choose to keep his illness a secret from all but a few close friends.

“Friends and cast members just got sick and died,” Ralph would later write in the Huffington Post.  “They were sick today and dead tomorrow….  Then the deadly silence would set in because nobody wanted to talk about it, much less do anything about that disease, that shhhhh, gay disease. The silence was deafening.”

Ralph would go on to found the DIVA Foundation, which raises awareness about HIV/AIDS.  DIVA stands for Divinely Inspired Victoriously Aware.

“It got to the point I couldn’t cross one more name out of my phone book, back when folks had such a thing called a phone book, when you would actually write a name in a book. That many people [died],” Ralph would say in a 2008 Star Tribune interview.

Holliday also would dedicate much of her life to HIV/AIDS advocacy and activism.

“I’ve been an advocate for AIDS assistance, because it took the lives of male chorus members and the creative team of Dreamgirls,” Holliday would later tell the Broadway Blog.

In 2017, Holliday would release a song to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

“The gay community has really been a vital part of my whole existence. It’s been a vital program under the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the Black Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition. They let people know that housing is available and want to serve people who need a place to stay.

Hall in hospital
December 31, 1981
45% of Patients Die by Year-End

At the close of 1981, a cumulative total of 270 cases of severe immune deficiency are reported among gay men, and 121 of those individuals have died.

January 1, 1982
Ward 86: First Dedicated AIDS Outpatient Clinic Opens

Ward 86, the worlds first dedicted AIDS outpatient clinic, opens at San Francisco General Hospital, a partnership with the University of California San Francisco.  The clinic becomes the gold standard for treating patients living with HIV/AIDS .

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Ward 86 draws staff who are passionate about treating people with AIDS.  Over time, the clinic team develops the San Francisco Model of Care, which focuses on treating patients with compassion and respect; providing an array of health and social services in one facility; and collaborating closely with the local health department and community organizations.

January 4, 1982
Gay Men’s Health Crisis Opens in NYC

Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC ) becomes the first community-based AIDS service provider in the U.S.

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A few months later, GMHC volunteer Rodger McFarlane sets up an information and counseling hotline on his home phone — and receives 100 phone calls the first night.

April 12, 1982
Award-winning Broadway Actor Lenny Baker Dies

Lenny Baker, who won the 1977 Tony Award for Best Actor (Featured Role – Musical), dies of AIDS-related illness in a hospital in Hallandale Beach, Florida at the age of 37.

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Born Leonard Joel Baker in 1945 in Boston, he began his acting career in regional theater and spent several summers at the O’Neill Center’s National Playwrights Conference in Waterford, Connecticut.

He told an interviewer in 1977 that the center was instrumental in his career, partly because he saw performances of the National Theater for the Deaf there.

”It’s perhaps because of watching them work,” Baker said, ”that I can be so brazen with comic uses of my body.”

After moving to New York City in 1969, Baker acted in Off-Broadway stage productions until making his Broadway stage debut in 1974 in The Freedom of the City.  Baker would go on to win a Tony award and the Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actor  in 1977 for his performance in the musical I Love My Wife.

Baker also acted in films and television shows, including Paul Mazursky’s Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976), for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe award.  His other film credits included The Hospital (1971) and The Paper Chase (1973).

Following Baker’s death, a memorial service would be held at the Public Theater, located at 425 Lafayette Street in New York City.

April 13, 1982
First Congressional Hearings on AIDS Begin in Hollywood

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, whose district includes West Hollywood, convenes first congressional hearings on AIDS at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center (now called the Los Angeles LGBT Center).

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Speaking at the hearing, Dr. James Curran, head of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Task Force on Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections, estimates that tens of thousands of people may already be affected by the disease.

1982
Los Angeles Activist Ivy Bottini Creates Informational Network

Lesbian feminist Ivy Bottini, upset by the January AIDS-related death of her friend, Stonewall Democratic Club President Ken Schnorr, starts asking questions, which lead her to found the AIDS Informational Network in Los Angeles.

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Bottini calls the CDC to ask about the black and blue bruises which covered Schnorr’s body.  The CDC refers Bottini, an LA real estate agent, to Dr. Michael Gottlieb at the University of California Los Angeles, who co-authored the CDC’s first report on HIV/AIDS.

Bottini and Dr. Gottlieb become friends and meet every Friday at Crest Coffee shop on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake to discuss AIDS.  Fueled with trustworthy information, Bottini forms what would become to be known as the AIDS Informational Network, an informal group of leaders who discuss the crisis.

She organizes a community town hall at Fiesta Hall in West Hollywood with Dr. Joel Weisman, Schnorr’s physician.  More than 300 gay men attend (Bottini and her friend Dottie Wine are the only women in the packed hall), and for years afterward, Bottini hears from men who claim that this event saved their life.

May 9, 1982
Genesis for San Francisco AIDS Foundation is Launched

Bay Area dermatologist Dr. Marcus Conant and gay activist Cleve Jones found the Kaposi’s Sarcoma Research and Education Foundation, which later becomes the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

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The Foundation’s goal is to provide information on Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) to local gay men.  Still active today, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation continues to promote health, wellness, and social justice for communities most impacted by HIV, through sexual health and substance use services, advocacy, and community partnerships.

May 11, 1982
Stigmatizing Label ‘GRID’ (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) is Coined

The New York Times publishes the first mention of the term “GRID” (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency), deepening public perceptions that HIV/AIDS is solely gay related.

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The Times picked up the terminology from some researchers who were using it to describe the new epidemic.  While the article identifies 13 cases of the disease in heterosexual women, it goes on to state, “Most cases have occurred among homosexual men, in particular those who have had numerous sexual partners, often anonymous partners whose identity remains unknown.”

May 31, 1982
Front-Page Story on AIDS Appears in Mainstream Press

The Los Angeles Times publishes the front-page story “Mysterious Fever Now an Epidemic,” marking the first time AIDS news receives top coverage in the mainstream press.

June 18, 1982
CDC Reports Connection between Sex & AIDS-related Illnesses

CDC publishes an MMWR article that is the first to identify sexual transmission as the possible source of cases of Karposis’ Scarcoma and outbreaks of other opportunitic infections in gay men.

 

 

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“A Cluster of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia among Homosexual Male Residents of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, California” describes a potential sexually transmitted agent as being the link to outbreaks of KS, PCP, and other infections recently found among young gay men.

Play Fair
June 27, 1982
Play Fair! First Safer-Sex Pamphlet Arrives

The Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence creates Play Fair!, the first “safer sex” pamphlet to use sex-positive language, practical advice, and humor in its approach to staying safe during the growing AIDS epidemic.

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The Sisters distribute 16,000 copies of Play Fair! during the San Francisco Gay & Lesbian parade in June 1982.

July 16, 1982
CDC Identifies Hemophilia-AIDS Connection

CDC reports three cases of hemophiliacs diagnosed with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), a common AIDS-related illness.  By the time the MMWR article is published, two of the three subjects have died.

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The article, “Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia among Persons with Hemophilia A,” is the first report of immunosuppression in patients with hemophilia who have no other known risk factors for AIDS.

1982
San Francisco Dancer Larry Hinneman Dies

Larry Hinneman, a dancer with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company in San Francisco, dies of AIDS-related illness.

The exact date of Hinneman’s death is not known, nor is his age at the time of his death.

September 24, 1982
CDC Introduces the Term ‘AIDS’

In a report, CDC coins the term “AIDS” / Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.  The report also includes the first case definition for AIDS: “A disease at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell-mediated immunity, occurring in a person with no known cause for diminished resistance to that disease.”

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Today, AIDS is defined as a set of symptoms (or syndrome) caused by the HIV virus. A person is said to have AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight off infection. This is the last stage of HIV, when the infection is very advanced.

September 28, 1982
AIDS Research Bill Introduced (and Dies) in Congress

Congressmen Phillip Burton and Ted Weiss introduce the first legislation for the allocation of funding for AIDS research. The resolution dies in committee.

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The first dedicated funding for AIDS research and treatment will be approved by Congress almost a year later, in July 1983.

1982
Activists Launch Hotline at Center for Los Angeles Community

After Los Angeles activists Nancy Cole Sawaya, Max Drew, Matt Redman, and Ervin Munro attend a community meeting featuring a speaker from the Kaposi Sarcoma Research and Education Foundation, they create a hotline to serve the panicked community.

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The emergency meeting with the representative from San Francisco is held at the LA Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center (now called the Los Angeles LGBT Center).  The four activists decide to set up the telephone hotline in a Center closet.

Sawaya, Drew, Redman and Munro, along with eight additional volunteers, would undergo training by Dr. Joel Weisman and then take turns answering the telephone and reading information from a carefully prepared fact sheet.  Word quickly gets out about the hotline, which would start to receive more than 20 calls a day.

In December 1982, the Los Angeles chapter of the Kaposi Sarcoma Foundation would host “Christmas Present,” a $25 event at a private home in Bel-Air to raise money for the hotline.  Music is provided by Mother Lode DJ Stewart Barkal, and refreshments are donated by local restaurants, coordinated by Truffles owner Steve Wilson.

Sawaya, Drew, Redman and Munro would go on to found AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), which would become the oldest and largest organization in Southern California providing educational and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS.

October 15, 1982
Question about AIDS Draws Laughter at White House Press Briefing

At White House Press briefing, a reporter asks Press Secretary Larry Speakes: “Does the President have any reaction to the announcement — from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta — that AIDS is now an epidemic and has over 600 cases?”

Speakes: “What’s AIDS?”

Reporter: “It’s known as the ‘gay plague.’”

Everyone laughs.

“I don’t have it,” Speakes replies. “Do you?”

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The transcript of the press briefing, which is in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, is a sharp reminder of how governmental officials and journalists viewed the LGBTQ community.

On Dec. 1, 2015, Vanity Fair debuted a short documentary by Scott Calonico about this now-infamous exchange.

President Reagan would not mention AIDS until 1985, in response to a reporter’s question at a press conference.  He would not give a major speech about the epidemic until mid-1987 — at which point 20,849 people were already dead of the disease in the U.S.

 

November 5, 1982
AIDS Precautions Created for Medical Personnel

CDC lays out first set of precautions for clinical and lab staff working with people with AIDS symptoms.

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CDC’s report, “Current Trends Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS): Precautions for Clinical and Laboratory Staffs,” introduces precautions for medical personnel working with people exhibiting signs of AIDS.  The report notes that “airborne spread and interpersonal spread through casual contact do not seem likely.”

December 17, 1982
More Cases of Pediatric AIDS Reported

Twenty-two additional cases of an unexplained immunodeficiency and opportunitistic infections in infants are described in CDC’s report.

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In the MMWR article, “Unexplained Immunodeficiency and Opportunistic Infections in Infants — New York, New Jersey, California,” CDC states, “It is possible that these infants had the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS),” but the report stops short of making a definitive diagnosis.

January 4, 1983
Authorities Fail to Reach Consensus on Blood Supply Protection

CDC hosts a convening of medical researchers, governmental leaders, and activists to determine how to protect nations’ blood supply. Despite many parties attending, no concensus is reached.

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Included in the CDC’s public meeting are representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the blood services and hemophilia communities, and gay activists.  The meeting ends without reaching a consensus on how best to protect the nation’s blood supply from AIDS.

January 7, 1983
More Illness in Women Appear in AIDS Case Studies

The CDC publishes its first article that includes women among those diagnosed with AIDS.

 

 

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“Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Immunodeficiency among Female Sexual Partners of Males with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) — New York” described the first cases of AIDS in women.

January 7, 1983
AIDS Project Los Angeles Elects Board of Directors

AIDS Project Los Angeles elects its first board of directors, which include Dr. Michael Gottlieb and political organizer Peter Scott.  Dr. Joel Weisman and attorney Diane Abbitt serve as the organization’s first co-chairs.

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APLA moves into a converted motel built in 1955, located at 937 Cole Street in Hollywood.

January 26, 1983
Opposing Views in CDC & Red Cross Lead to Delays in Blood Screening

Following a meeting hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on opportunistic infections in hemophiliacs, an American Red Cross interoffice memo is released that indicates strong opposition to the CDC recommendations for a widespread screening of blood supply products.

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An American Red Cross interoffice memo blasts the CDC after its January 4 meeting, stating, “CDC is likely to continue to play up AIDS.

The memo goes on to say;  “It has long been noted that CDC increasingly needs a major epidemic to justify its existence.  To the extent the [blood supply] industry sticks together against CDC, it will appear to some segments of the public at least that we have a self interest which is in conflict with the public interest, unless we can clearly demonstrate that CDC is wrong.”

American Red Cross officials encourage colleagues to resist recommendations from CDC scientists to implement a stringent screening process for blood donors.

The lack of consensus from blood banks, government agencies, and manufacturers on how extensively to screen blood donors would result in a delay of more than one year in implementing strategies.  During this delay, blood banks continue to collect donations from unscreened members of the public.

February 11, 1983
MECLA Briefing on AIDS Delivers Troubling News

An AIDS briefing hosted by the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles draws hundreds eager for more information on the epidemic. Speakers include Rep. Henry Waxman, who tells attendees, ““I believe that much of the lack of federal research on AIDS has arisen from discrimination intent and self-righteous neglect.”

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Held at the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel, the MECLA breakfast event also features presentations by Dr. Joel Weisman (APLA Co-Chair), Dr. Michael Roth of UCLA’s Department of Allergy and Immunology, Assemblymember Burt Margolin, and Mark Feldman, founder of the “Phooey on AIDS” emergency healthcare fund, according to a report from Pat Rocco.

March 4, 1983
CDC Issues Recommendations on AIDS Prevention

CDC issues recommendations for preventing the transmission of AIDS.  The report states that most AIDS cases are found among gay men with multiple sex partners, intravenous drug users, receipients of blood transfusions, and Haitians.

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The report “Current Trends Prevention of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS): Report of Inter-Agency Recommendations” is also notable in that it is the first to suggest that AIDS may be caused by an infectious agent that is transmitted sexually or through exposure to blood or blood products.

March 14, 1983
Larry Kramer Publishes ‘1,112 and Counting’

Readers of the New York Native are galvanized  by “1,112 and Counting,” AIDS activist Larry Kramer’s urgent plea for the NY Gay Community to get angry at the lack of government support and scientific advances in the fight against AIDS.

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Published in the New York Native, Kramer provides a blistering assessment of the impact of AIDS on the gay community, the quickly rising numbers of sick and dying gay men and the slow pace of scientific progress in finding a cause for AIDS.

Kramer’s historic essay opens with:
“If this article doesn’t scare the shit out of you, we’re in real trouble. If this article doesn’t rouse you to anger, fury, rage, and action, gay men may have no future on this earth. Our continued existence depends on just how angry you can get.”

March 30, 1983
Frontiers Magazine Re-prints ‘1,112 and Counting’ on Cover

Publisher Bob Craig publishes activist Larry Kramer’s essay “1,112 and Counting,” giving it prominent placement on the cover of the relatively new gay Los Angeles bi-weekly Frontiers magazine.  Many of the gay bars where the free community magazine is distributed throw it out.

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First pubished in the March 14-27, 1983 edition of New York Native, Kramer’s long, comprehensive essay expresses frustration, anger and despair and then culminates in a call to action: Volunteers Needed for Civil Disobedience.

1983
‘How to Have Sex in an Epidemic’ Hits the Streets

Richart Berkowitz and Michael Callen publish “How to Have Sex in an Empidemic: One Approach.”

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Written by Berkowitz and Callen, both gay men living with AIDS, the pamphlet offers pointed advice on condom use and promotes self-empowerment for those diagnosed with AIDS.

May 3, 1983
Candlelight Vigils Held in San Francisco & NYC

The Kaposi’s Sarcoma Foundation organizes the first AIDS Candlelight Vigils in New York and San Francisco, creating the first public demonstration with people living with AIDS and bringing global awareness to the epidemic.

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Photos of the event are circulated around the world, revealing for many the growing health crisis.  It is the first time that people with AIDS come together in a public demonstration.

May 3, 1983
5,000 Attend Candlelight March at Federal Building in Westwood

APLA sponsors a Candlelight March in Westwood attended by 5,000 people.  Activists from the Los Angeles area do their part to bring awareness about AIDS to the community and the nation.

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Tens of thousands of people also turn out in marches in New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston.  In San Francisco, 10,000 activists walk for hours from the Castro to City Hall behind a banner reading “Fighting For Our Lives.”

Organizers Bobbi Campbell, Bobby Reynolds, Dan Turner and Mark Feldman succeed in their goal of putting “a face on the disease.”

1983
Daniel P. Warner Launches LA Shanti, Promotes Death with Dignity

Daniel P. Warner co-founds the non-profit LA Shanti Foundation, the first organization in Southern California to provide direct services for people with AIDS that also promotes death with dignity.

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Located on La Brea Avenue, L.A. Shanti becomes a leader in quality volunteer-driven programs that provide information and emotional support using the Shanti model of compassionate presence.

Warner serves as the organization’s first Executive Director.

“I have committed myself to helping the fight against the misconceptions and prejudices, which can overwhelm a person with this infection, by working as a health educator for the city of West Hollywood,” Warner would write to the Los Angeles Times in 1988.

Warner, who is HIV-positive, would receive Shanti’s first Commitment to Service Award in 1991. The same year, he would receive Los Angeles County’s Community Service Award and a certificate of recognition from the state Senate.
May 18, 1983
Congress Passes Bill with AIDS Research Funding

The U.S. Congress passes the first bill that includes funding specifically targeted for AIDS research and treatment — $12 million for agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

May 20, 1983
Pasteur Institute Researchers Discover AIDS Virus

Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and her colleagues at the Pasteur Institute in France report the discovery of a retrovirus that could be the cause of AIDS.

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In 2008, Dr. Barré-Sinoussiwill share the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this discovery with her colleague, Dr. Luc Montagnier.

May 25, 1983
AIDS Coverage Lands on NYT Front Page

The New York Times publishes its first front-page story on AIDS, “Health Chief Calls AIDS Battle ‘No. 1 Priority’.” The article reports on the federal response to the growing AIDS epidemic.

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By the time the article reaches newstands, 1,450 cases of AIDS have been reported and 558 of those individuals have died.

May 27, 1983
3,000 Marchers in LA Demand AIDS Research

A Candlelight March in Los Angeles brings 3,000 activists into the streets, reports the Los Angeles Times.  As reported cases in LA County jump from 19 in April 1982 to 81 in May 1983, activists mobilize to demand more AIDS research.

June 12, 1983
Denver Principles Adopted after AIDS Forum Take-over

The Denver Principles are adopted after 11 gay men living with AIDS crash the stage at the National AIDS Forum and demand attention.

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At the National AIDS Forum in Denver, the activists issued a statement on the rights of people living with AIDS to be at the table when policy is made, to be treated with dignity, and to be called “people with AIDS,” not “AIDS victims.”

The statement becomes known as The Denver Principles, and it serves as the charter for the founding of the National Association of People with AIDS.

June 19, 1983
Televangelist Jerry Falwell Claims AIDS is Punishment for Homosexuality

Conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, tells his followers that “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals, it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”

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A notious homophobe and segregationalist popular with religious conservatives, Falwell continues the campaign of stigmatization against the LGBTQ community that he began in the 1970s with Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign.

Religious Right leader Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority publishes a report on AIDS headlined “Homosexual Diseases Threaten American Families.” It features a white couple with two young children, all wearing surgical masks suggesting AIDS is a gay disease that can be spread casually and that gays do not have families.

Many suspect that Falwell’s close ties to President Ronald Reagan directly contributed to the Administration’s refusal to address AIDS.

June 19, 1983
‘I Will Survive” Addresses Epidemic on Public Radio in Los Angeles

Produced for a gay audience, “I Will Survive” is broadcast on Los Angeles public radio station KPFK 90.7 FM as part of a day of programming celebrating gay pride month.

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In the one-hour show, producer David Hunt examines “the conflicting currents of fear, greed, despair and denial that confronted the gay community in the early years of the AIDS epidemic.”

“For its time, the documentary is a fairly clear-eyed look at the emerging AIDS epidemic,” writes Hunt on his website Tell Me David.  “It correctly emphasizes the medical consensus that a virus is the cause of the disease, and urges education, personal responsibility and collective action as the tools for fighting it.”

June 23, 1983
Stars Align for Kaposi Sarcoma Benefit in San Francisco

Movie actresses Debbie Reynolds and Shirley MacLaine head the lineup for the annual benefit for the Kaposi Sarcoma Research and Education Foundation, founded by Cleve Jones, Marcus Conant, Frank Jacobson, and Richard Keller.

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In his book And The Band Played On about the early years of the AIDS crisis, Randy Shilts would write:

“The fundraiser for the National KS/AIDS foundation had all the raciness of a true San Francisco event. When host Debbie Reynolds introduced the surprise guest, actress Shirley MacLaine, with the comment that MacLaine had great legs, MacLaine responded by pulling down the top of her long strapless gown, demonstrating that she had other equipment to match. The crowd cheered enthusiastically: ‘We love you, Shirley!’  Not to be outdone, Reynolds lifted the rear of her slitted gown to reveal her brief black underwear.”

Reynolds would go on to appear in another benefit for the organization in two months at the Hollywood Bowl.

“Reynolds was known to always be available, without perks, to lend her name and talent to fighting the AIDS epidemic,” writes journalist Karen Ocamb.  “And her fondness for the gays never disappeared either, landing the role as Kevin Kline’s mother in the satirical 1997 film In & Out, and playing her Emmy-nominated role as Deborah Messing’s eccentric mother in NBC’s Will & Grace.”

Reynolds last role would be Liberace’s mother in the 2013 HBO movie Behind the Candelabra.

In 1984, Kaposi Sarcoma Research and Education Foundation would be renamed the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

June 23, 1983
Reagan Staffer Patrick Buchanan Vilifies Gay Men in Op-Ed

Patrick J. Buchanan, President Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, publishes an op-ed in the New York Post, writing: “The poor homosexuals — they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is extracting an awful retribution.”

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In his op-ed in the New York Post, Pat Buchanan repeats the Moral Majority position that the AIDS epidemic was God seeking revenge against gay people.

Buchanan concludes his essay by saying homosexuals should be banned from food-handling jobs, and that the Democratic party’s decision to hold its 1983 convention in San Francisco will endanger delegates and their families.

Visitors to the city, he writes, will be at the mercy of “homosexuals who belong to a community that is a common carrier of dangerous, communicable and sometimes fatal diseases.”

July 1, 1983
National AIDS Hotline Opens to High Demand

The National AIDS Hotline opens, and by the end of the first month it’s reaching 8,000-10,000 calls a day.

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Operated by the U.S. Public Health Servicem, the AIDS Hotline responds to public inquiries about the disease, and by July 28, the hotline has to be expanded from three phonelines to eight to accommodate the volume of calls.

July 5, 1983
Rev. Troy Perry Debates Jerry Falwell on TV

Metropolitan Community Church founder Rev. Troy Perry debates Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell on the subject of “the AIDS controversy” on national TV.

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In the debate, Falwell calls for the mandatory closing of bathhouses, saying that AIDS is caused by homosexual promiscuity.  Then he walks back his previous statement regarding AIDS as a punishment against homosexuality.  He cites incorrect numbers regarding deaths and illness from AIDS.

The Rev. Perry responds, saying that diseases are the result of many variables, and that Falwell is dimishing the dangers of AIDS when he compares it with herpes.  He goes on to tell the TV audience that the majority of members in the LGBT community are in loving relationships, and that is the norm.

The Rev. Perry founded the LGBTQ-inclusive Metropolitan Community Church in 1968 after recovering from an attempt to end his own life.  He is well-known in the community for filing suit against the Los Angeles Police Department to clear the way for the city’s first Pride parade in 1970.

July 17, 1983
WeHo Gay Bars & Bathhouses Empty as Misinformation Spreads

Gay bars in West Hollywood and Los Angeles report a 20% drop in business, according to the Los Angeles Times.  Six area bathhouses also report a 50% plunge in revenue.

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Some community members, like Circus Disco owner Gene La Pietra, think the drop may be related to an earlier news article that erroneously reported AIDS can be spread through casual contact.

July 25, 1983
Ward 5B: Inpatient AIDS Ward Opens in San Francisco

San Francisco General Hospital opens Ward 5B, the first dedicated inpatient AIDS ward in the U.S.  The ward consists of all-volunteer caregivers and staff.

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Ward 5B is the answer to a petition organized by psychiatric nurse Cliff Morrison, demanding compassionate, holistic care for AIDS patients in San Francisco.  By August, the ward’s 12 beds are fully occupied.

Run by Morrison and an all-volunteer team, Ward 5B allowed patients to create their own family made up of friends and partners. The nurses recognized that many of the patients were isolated from their families or had long-term, though not legal, partners.

The ward was one of the first units in the country that allowed visitors at any time.

August 1, 1983
Congress Holds Hearings on U.S. AIDS Reponse

The Congressional Subcommittee on Government Operations holds hearings on the federal response to AIDS

August 3, 1983
Singer-Musician Jobriath Dies

Rock star Jobriath dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 36.  He was the first openly gay pop singerto be signed to a major record label, and one of the first internationally famous musicians to die of AIDS.

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Born Bruce Wayne Campbell and raised in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Jobriath started his music career in the West Coast production of the musical Hair, receiving positive reviews in the lead role of Woof, a character implied to be gay.  After leaving the production in 1969, he joined the folk-rock band Pidgeon as their lead singer and guitarist, followed by a two-album solo deal with Elektra Records in 1972.

His debut album Jobriath, released in June 1973, would feature an album sleeve design by photographer Shig Ikeda depicting a nude Jobriath as an ancient Greek statue.  This photograph was used in an extentive publicity campaign for the album release.

Critical praise for the album followed the hype, and he was often compared with David Bowie, some critics contending that Jobriath had more talent than Bowie.  But American music fans of the 1970s weren’t ready for a talent like Jobriath.

“At a concert at the Nassau Coliseum, chants of ‘faggot’ started from the minute he took the stage, along with rubbish thrown at him, and Jobriath was forced a flee the stage,” writes music historian Kevin Burke.

Elektra then rush-released Jobriath’s second album and ended its contract with him.  Jobriath would spend the rest of the ’70s in a new identity, “Cole Berlin” (an amalgamation of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin), whose professions were nightclub signer and sex worker.

Jobriath had begun to feel ill in late 1981 but still managed to contribute to the Chelsea Hotel’s 100th birthday celebration in November 1982.

“A decade after his billboards hung in Times Square, Jobriath Boone died alone and abandoned in his rooftop apartment at the Chelsea Hotel,” Burke writes.  “Sadly overlooking the New York skyline he once adorned, here his body lay decomposing for four days before it was found.”

August 6, 1983
Singer-Performer Klaus Nomi Dies

Klaus Nomi, a world-famous countertenor noted for his wide vocal range and an otherworldly stage persona, dies of AIDS at the age of 39. Although Nomi’s work has not yet met with national commercial success, he has a cult following in New York and in France.

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Nomi is an important part of the 1980s East Village scene, a hotbed of development for punk rock music, the visual arts and the avant-garde.  Born Klaus Sperber in Immenstadt, Germany, Nomi began his career in the 1960s, singing opera arias at the Berlin gay discothèque Kleist Casino.

In 1972, Nomi moved to New York and appeared in a camp production of Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold at Charles Ludlam‘s Ridiculous Theater Company.

In 1978, he caught the attention of the NYC art scene with his performance in “New Wave Vaudeville.”  Dressed in a skin-tight spacesuit with a clear plastic cape, Nomi sang the aria “Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix” (“My heart opens to your voice”) from Camille Saint-Saëns’ opera Samson et Dalila. After that performance Nomi was invited to perform at clubs all over New York City.

Nomi would go on to create the Klaus Nomi Band, release albums, and perform in NYC’s top clubs.  In 1979, David Bowie hired Nomi as a backup singer for his Dec. 15 appearance on Saturday Night Live.  During the performance of “TVC 15,” Nomi and Joey Arias dragged around a large prop pink poodle with a television screen in its mouth.

In the last several months of his life, Nomi would change his focus to operatic pieces and adopted a Baroque era operatic outfit complete with full collar as his typical onstage attire. The collar helped cover the outbreaks of Kaposi’s sarcoma.

Nomi’s death at the Sloan Kettering Hospital Center in New York City is one of the first of many celebrity deaths from AIDS.

Newsweek Gay America
August 8, 1983
Newsweek Magazine Puts ‘Gay America’ on Cover

AIDS Activist Bobbi Campbell and his partner Bobby Hilliard appear on the cover of Newsweek magazine for the story “Gay America: Sex, Politics and the Impact of AIDS.”

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It is the first time two gay men are pictured embracing one another on the cover of a U.S. mainstream national magazine.

1983
San Francisco Dancer Graham Conley Dies

Modern dancer Graham Conley, who performed with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 32.

August 17, 1983
Comedian Eddie Murphy Perpetrates Stigma in HBO Special

Comedian Eddie Murphy performs his comedy special “Delirious” on HBO with material that further stigmatizes gay men and HIV/AIDS.  In the show, he makes jokes about AIDS, uses a gay slur multiple times, and tells the audience he is “afraid of gay people.”

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After its release to the public, the show would become watched by millions and go on to win a Grammy Award.

Murphy would apologize in 1996 for the homophobic remarks in his performances after gay rights activists in San Francisco mount a protest during one of his film shoots.  In a public statement, Murphy said that he deeply regretted “any and all pain” that he caused, adding, “Just like the rest of the world, I am more educated about AIDS in 1996 than I was in 1981.”

David Smith, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign Fund in Washington, D.C., would respond:  “This statement certainly does sound as though Murphy recognizes the impact his past statements have had on the gay community.  It’s important for people in the public eye like Eddie Murphy to recognize they set a tone for the general public.

August 28, 1983
Debbie Reynolds & Rip Taylor Perform at AIDS Benefit at Hollywood Bowl

Film star Debbie Reynolds appears with comic performer Rip Taylor at the first public AIDS benefit in Los Angeles, which takes place at the Hollywood Bowl.

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The benefit for the Kaposi Sarcoma Foundation is technically the “second annual” fundraiser in Los Angeles, but it is the first to be held in a public venue.

As the featured star of the event, Reynolds is already an arden AIDS activist — long before Elizabeth Taylor becomes an advocate, journalist Karen Ocamb writes in The Pride LA.

Along with comedian Joan Rivers, singer-actress Rita Moreno, and actor Robert Guillaume, Reynolds is among the first Hollywood celebrities to appear in AIDS fundraisers at a time when HIV/AIDS is still a topic shunned by many.

1983
‘AIDS Memorandum’ Created for Research-Sharing

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases begins publishing an informal newsletter, the AIDS Memorandum, through which scientists can share unpublished research findings.

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The publication lasts for two years, until mainstream scientific journals begin expediting publication for articles on AIDS.

September 2, 1983
CDC Issues AIDS Exposure Precautions for Healthcare Workers

CDC publishes the first set of AIDS exposure precautions for healthcare workers.

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In response to growing concerns about the potential for AIDS transmission in healthcare settings, CDC publishes occupational exposure precautions for healthcare workers and allied health professionals.

September 9, 1983
CDC Rules Out AIDS Transmission by Casual Contact

In an MMWR article read around the world, CDC rules out transmission of AIDS by casual contact, food, water, air, or environmental surfaces.

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In the CDC Report “Current Trends Update: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) — United States,” CDC identifies all major routes of HIV transmission — and rules out transmission by casual contact.

September 30, 1983
First AIDS Discrimination Lawsuit Filed in NYC

After New York City physician Joseph Sonnabend is threatened with eviction from his office building for treating patients with AIDS, the state’s Attorney General and Lambda Legal join together to file the first AIDS discrimination lawsuit.

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Dr. Sonnabend and five of his patients sued and won what became one of the first AIDS-related civil rights cases.

With others including AIDS activist Michael Callen, Dr. Sonnabend founded the AIDS Medical Foundation, the first AIDS research group and now known as the Foundation for AIDS Research.

1983
Nationwide Vigil Draws Attention to Federal Non-Action

At the first National AIDS Vigil in Washington, D.C., speaker Bobbi Campbell urges President Ronald Reagan to appoint a nonpartisan federal task force on AIDS that includes people living with AIDS and start addressing the “national health emergency.”

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The next day, the Associated Press would report that memorial marches and services were held in cities across America, including Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Tampa and Denver.  In Washington, 1,500 activists would gather and march in a candlelight procession past the White House.

“Thousands of homosexuals, their families and friends joined candlelight parades for whom they said were cast aside by an insensitive public scared of catching the deadly disease,” the AP would report.

November 22, 1983
WHO Brings Global Eye to Pandemic

The World Health Organization holds its first meeting to assess global AIDS situation, beginning international surveillance of the disease.

1983
Activist Morris Kight Starts Aid for AIDS in Los Angeles

Gay activist Morris Kight and a small group of friends create Aid for AIDS  to help those devastated by AIDS who have been evicted, fired or unable to pay for food, rent or  utility bills.

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As AFA’s Director in the early years, Knight set ambitious goals, ensuring assistance was allocated to those who needed it most.

In the 1980s, most people who developed full-blown AIDS would die within a short time, and AFA prioritized the need for people to die with dignity in their own homes.  In the coming years, AFA would go on to help more than 16,000 men, women, and children.

December 21, 1983
TV Medical Drama Tackles Subject of AIDS in Episode

NBC’s “St Elsewhere” airs the episode “AIDS and Comfort,” with the story about a former councilman diagnosed with AIDS.

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In the episode, the presence of a person with AIDS at St. Elygius Hospital triggers the fears and prejudices of various hospital staff.

The episode attempts to call for compassion in its viewers while dispelling misinformation about the virus, using medical professionals as gateways to inform and educate a mainstream audience.

However, by depicting the patient with AIDS as a white, heterosexual, well-off character who’s the victim of an ill-timed affair and the subsequent confusion about whether the patient is straight or gay once he is diagnosed, the viewers are presented with the message that “gay = AIDS,” reinforcing the stereotype  stigmatizing the gay community.

February 4, 1984
San Francisco Actor-Singer John Ponyman Dies

John Ponyman, an off-Broadway actor who migrated to San Francisco, dies of AIDS- related illness at the age of 41.  He regularly appeared in shows at Theatre Rhinoceros; his final project was a solo show titled “Sawdust,” featuring several of his own songs.

March 30, 1984
Canadian flight attendant Gaëtan Dugas Dies

Canadian flight attendant Gaëtan Dugas dies of AIDS in Quebec City at the age of 32.  A few years later, Dugas would be erroneously villified as “Patient Zero” due to the CDC’s labeling of his case as “patient O” (as in the letter O).

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In 1987, three years after the death of Dugas, journalist Randy Shilts would publish the best-selling book And the Band Played On, an influential work on HIV that would help shame the U.S. Government into properly funding research.

Tucked away in the book would be a few pages on so-called “patient zero” to illustrate how the virus could spread.  Shilts would identify “patient zero” as Dugas, who had a home in Los Angeles, and implied that he was the first-known source of the HIV spread in the U.S.

The media would erupt: Dugas’ hansome face would be pubished everywhere, and he would be characterised as a kind of “typhoid Mary” who callously spread the virus in the early 1980s.

Flash-forward to 2016, when this would be scientifically disproven by a group of researchers led by evolutionary biologist Dr. Michael Worobey.  Worobey’s team conducted a genetic study of blood samples taken from gay and bisexual men in 1978 and 1979 as part of a hepatitis B study, and based on the results of the data, concluded that Dugas was not the source of the virus in the U.S.

“On the family tree of the virus, Dugas fell in the middle, not at the beginning” Worobey concluded.  “Beliefs about Patient Zero are unsupported by scientific data.”

Worobey’s paper, published in Nature in October 2016, finds neither biological nor historical evidence that Dugas was the primary case in the U.S.

It is also important to note that Dugas was particularly helpful and transparent with the CDC in tracing his network of partners, providing names and addresses for many of them (which was further expanded because others remembered his distinctive name).

April 4, 1984
Dancer-Choreographer Bill Kendall Dies

Performer Bill Kendall, who received rave reviews of his portrayal of “Mr. Peanut” in the long-running San Francisco production of Beach Blanket Babylon, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 35.

 

April 7, 1984
U.S. Military Veteran Dennis Yount Dies

Dennis Yount, a Marine who served in the Presidential Honor Guard at President Kennedy’s bier in the Capitol Rotunda, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 43.  After completing his military service, Yount moved to San Francisco to work as a bartender and actor.

April 23, 1984
Dr. Robert Gallo Identifies Retrovirus as Cause of AIDS

US Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler announces that Dr. Robert Gallo and his colleagues at the National Cancer Institute have found the cause of AIDS, a retrovirus they have labeled HTLV-III. Heckler also announces the development of a diagnostic blood test to identify HTLV-III and expresses hope that a vaccine against AIDS will be produced within two years.

May 6, 1984
Theatre Rhinoceros Founder Allan Estes Dies

Allan Estes, the founding artistic director of Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 29.

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Theatre Rhinoceros is the nation’s oldest and longest-running LGBTQIA+ theater. It was founded in 1977 by the late visionary theater queer Allan Estes.

From 1977 until 1984, Estes and Theatre Rhinoceros produced works by New York writers that included Doric Wilson, Robert Patrick, Lanford Wilson, Terrence McNally, and Harvey Fierstein, as well as several San Francisco playwrights including C.D. Arnold, Robert Chesley, Cal Youmans, Philip Real, and Dan Curzon.

When Estes would die in 1984 as one of the nation’s first AIDS casualties, his friends and collaborators vowed to continue Theatre Rhinoceros as a monument to their fallen leader. In 1987 the theater garnered national attention for staging a production called Artists Involved with Death and Survival (The AIDS Show), a seminal and deeply personal reflection on the devastation the disease wrought on the gay community in San Francisco and around the world.

May 21, 1984
San Francisco Dancer Charles Butts Dies

Bay Area dancer Charles Butts — who performed with Dance Spectrum, Xoregos Dance Company, Ballet Trocadero de Monte Carlo and Valerie Huston Dance Company — dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 31.

June 13, 1984
Portugese Pop Star António Variações Dies

Singer-songwriter António Variações, Portugal’s first gay superstar, dies of AIDS-related illiness in Lisbon, Portugal at the age of 39.

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Variações made his TV debut in 1981 during the Sunday variety show on Portugal’s sole broadcaster, recounts Pedro João Santos in his Guardian profile.

“He sang a punk metaphor about pills while a dancer dressed as a giant aspirin threw Smarties at the dumbfounded audience,” writes Santos.  “Nothing so transgressive had ever graced Portugal’s airwaves.”

His 1983 bestselling debut album, Anjo da Guarda (Guardian Angel), features Variações’ Portuguese folk-style singing set to new-wave music.  His follow-up album, Dar & Receber, fused disco-rock with synthpop.

In May 1984, Variações was admitted to hospital due to illness, according to The AIDS Memorial. Except for his family and close friends, he received few visitors during his hospital stay. A month later, the media reported that his health had deteriorated and rumours began to circulate that he had AIDS.

The initial cause of Variações’ death would be reported as bilateral bronchial pneumonia.  At his funeral on June 15, 1984, the coffin would be sealed shut by order of the Portugese government.

foucault
June 25, 1984
French Philosopher Michel Foucault Dies

Paul-Michel Foucault, one of the most influential and controversial scholars of the post-World War II period, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 57.

 

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A day later, French newspaper Libération would include in the death notice a mention of the rumor that it had been brought on by AIDS. The day after that, Le Monde would issue a medical bulletin cleared by his family that makes no reference to HIV/AIDS.

On 29 June, Foucault’s la levée du corps ceremony would be held, in which the coffin is carried from the hospital morgue. Hundreds attend, including activists and academic friends, while French philosopher Gilles Deleuze gives a speech using excerpts from Foucault’s extensive examination of sexuality in the Western world, The History of Sexuality.

His body is then buried at Vendeuvre-du-Poitou in a small ceremony.

The son and grandson of a physician, Foucault was born to a bourgeois family.  A distinguished but sometimes erratic student, Foucault gained entry at the age of 20 to the École Normale Supérieure in Paris in 1946, and established a reputation as a sedulous, brilliant, and eccentric student.

After graduating in 1952, Foucault travelled Europe, issued monographs of his work and, in 1969, published L’Archéologie du savoir (The Archaeology of Knowledge), which won him attention as one of the most original and controversial thinkers of his day.

A year later, he was awarded a chair position at the Collège de France, the country’s most prestigious postsecondary institution, and began conducting intensive research.

Between 1971 and 1984 Foucault wrote several works, including Surveiller et punir: naissance de la prison (1975; Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison); three volumes of a history of Western sexuality; and numerous essays.

Foucault continued to travel widely, and as his reputation grew he spent extended periods in Brazil, Japan, Italy, Canada, and the U.S.  He became particularly attached to the San Francisco Bay area and was a visiting lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley for several years.

Although Foucault reportedly despised the label “homosexual,” he was openly gay and occasionally praised the pleasures of sadomasochism and the bathhouse.  Foucault died of a septicemia typical of AIDS, with the fourth volume of his history of sexuality still incomplete.

Foucault’s partner Daniel Defert would go on to found the first HIV/AIDS organisation in France, AIDES; a play on the French language word for “help” (aide) and the English language acronym for the disease.  On the second anniversary of Foucault’s death, Defert would publicly reveal that Foucault’s death was AIDS-related.

July 13, 1984
CDC Cites IV Drug Use & Needle Sharing as AIDS Transmitter

U.S. Centers for Disease Control pubishes research demonstrating that avoiding injection drug use and reducing needle-sharing would help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

August 15, 1984
Activist Bobbi Campbell Dies

AIDS activist Bobbi Campbell dies of AIDS-related illness at age 32.

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Just one month earlier, Campbell spoke at the National March for Lesbian and Gay Rights at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.

Campbell told the crowd that he had hugged his boyfriend on the cover of Newsweek, “to show Middle America that gay love is beautiful.”  He held 15 seconds of silence for the 2,000 who had died of AIDS at that point “and [for] those who will die before this is over.”

He then laid-out a series of concerns for politicians to address — including increased funding for both research and support services and a warning of the potential for discrimination with the advent of a test for HTLV-3 (now known as HIV) — and appealing to all candidates in the upcoming elections to meet with people with AIDS.

Two weeks after his DNC speech, Campbell appeared on CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. While the rumors and fear of AIDS had reached a mainstream audience, the facts had not, so Campbell was placed in a glass booth, with technicians refusing to come near him to wire up microphones for the interview.

At noon on August 15, 1984, exactly a month after his DNC speech and after 2 days on life support in intensive care, Bobbi Campbell died at San Francisco General Hospital.   His parents and his partner Bobby Hilliard were by his side.  Bobbi Campbell was 32 years old and had lived for over 3½ years with what was by then called AIDS.

His partner Bobby Hilliard would succumb to the deadly disease not long afterwards.

October 9, 1984
NYT Article Erroneously Suggests AIDS Transmission via Saliva is Possible

The New York Times reports that new scientific evidence has raised the possibility that AIDS may be transmissible through saliva . It will be another two years before proof emerges that this is false.

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Epidemiologic studies to date point to sexual contact as well as transfusions of blood or blood products as the major risk factors leading to AIDS.

”Right now epidemiological studies do not point to saliva as the key mode of spread of AIDS and data show that close contact is much more important,” Dr. Robert C. Gallo, a leading AIDS researcher, told The New York Times.

Even so, this article spread fear among the public and further stigmatized those living with AIDS.

October 10, 1984
City of San Francisco Closes Bathhouses

San Francisco ordered bathhouses closed  due to the potential of high-risk sexual activity occurring in these venues.

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In the mid-1980s, controversy emerged in a number of American cities over the roles gay bathhouses and sex clubs might play in the spread of AIDS, and in raising safe-sex awareness.  In 1984, San Francisco became the first city where political debates broke out over AIDS-related policies for bathhouses and sex clubs. These debates were dominated by questions of public health and gay civil liberties,

San Francisco’s Director of Public Health ordered the closure of 14 bathhouses in the city. Within six hours of the order, two had already re-opened.  An additional 10 had re-opened within 24 hours.

January 11, 1985
CDC Updates AIDS Definition & Issues Guidelines for Blood Screening

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revises the AIDS case definition to note that AIDS is caused by a newly identified virus. CDC also issues provisional guidelines for blood screening.

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The report includes the following “recommendations for the individual” judged most likely to have an HTLV-III infection:

1. The prognosis for an individual infected with HTLV-III over the long term is not known.
However, data available from studies conducted among homosexual men indicate
that most persons will remain infected.
2. Although asymptomatic, these individuals may transmit HTLV-III to others. Regular
medical evaluation and follow-up is advised, especially for individuals who develop
signs or symptoms suggestive of AIDS.
3. Refrain from donating blood, plasma, body organs, other tissue, or sperm.
4. There is a risk of infecting others by sexual intercourse, sharing of needles, and possi­
bly, exposure of others to saliva through oral-genital contact or intimate kissing. The efficacy of condoms in preventing infection with HTLV-III is unproven, but the consis­
tent use of them may reduce transmission.
5. Toothbrushes, razors, or other implements that could become contaminated with
blood should not be shared.
6. Women with a seropositive test, or women whose sexual partner is seropositive, are
themselves at increased risk of acquiring AIDS. If they become pregnant, their offspr­
ing are also at increased risk of acquiring AIDS.
7. After accidents resulting in bleeding, contaminated surfaces should be cleaned with
household bleach freshly diluted 1:10 in water.
8. Devices that have punctured the skin, such as hypodermic and acupuncture needles,
should be steam sterilized by autoclave before reuse or safely discarded. Whenever
possible, disposable needles and equipment should be used.
9. When seeking medical or dental care for intercurrent illness, these persons should
inform those responsible for their care of their positive antibody status so that ap­
propriate evaluation can be undertaken and precautions taken to prevent transmission
to others.
10. Testing for HTLV-III antibody should be offered to persons who may have been infect­
ed as a result of their contact with seropositive individuals (e.g., sexual partners, per­
sons with whom needles have been shared, infants born to seropositive mothers).
March 2, 1985
Commercial Blood Test for HIV Becomes Available

The U.S Food and Drug Administration licenses the first commercial blood test, ELISA, to detect HIV. Blood banks begin screening the U.S. blood supply.

Learn More.

Today, many options are available to test for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), including an FDA-approved, at-home test called OraQuick.

Approved in 2012 for sale to anyone age 17 and older, the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test tests fluid from the mouth and delivers results in 20 to 40 minutes.  The kit does not require sending a sample to a lab.

HIV screening is covered in the U.S. by health insurance without a co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act.  If you do not have medical insurance, some testing sites may offer free tests.

When people know their HIV status, they have powerful information they can use to take care of themselves.

The FDA still regulates the tests that detect infection with HIV.  An estimated 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and about one in seven don’t know they have it, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 years old be screened for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care. More frequent testing is recommended for people who have a higher risk of infection because of behaviors such as having sex without condoms, having sex with multiple partners, or injecting drugs using shared needles.

March 20, 1985
Musical Director James Thomason-Bergner Dies

James Thomason-Bergner, musical director and conductor for the San Francisco production of Beach Blanket Babylon, dies of AIDS-related illness on his 40th birthday.  He was also a vocal coach and headed the musical theater program at Lone Mountain College.

April 5, 1985
Atlanta Hosts International AIDS Conference

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization  host the first International AIDS Conference  in Atlanta, Georgia on April 15-17.

Learn More.

More than 2,000 researchers gathered at the conference to share information and assess prospects for controlling the disease, not yet realizing that the worst was yet to come.

The Atlanta conference featured 392 presentations and generated considerable excitement among participants eager to learn about how this new disease was playing out within specific populations in the U.S.

Much of the news was discouraging, however, as presenters introduced new data that showed that many of those dying in 1985 had been infected before 1981, and that within especially vulnerable populations, the epidemic was becoming entrenched.

At a side meeting before the day the conference opened, gay activists protested Reagan administration proposals to implement mandatory HIV testing policies, arguing that this would do little to halt the spread of the disease and would only intensify discrimination against vulnerable groups.

April 10, 1985
Haitians Removed from CDC’s High-Risk List

CDC removes Haitians from the list of those at increased risk for AIDS, because scientists can no longer justify including them on statistical grounds,

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The CDC, which began investigating the mysterious and often-fatal disease in 1981, initially identified Haitian immigrants, intravenous drug users, hemophiliacs, and homosexual or bisexual men as groups at high risk for HIV/AIDS.

The CDC’s weekly reports of AIDS statistics included all four groups, but starting in April 1985, Haitians were no longer included as a separate listing.

The April 1985 report cited a total of 9,405 cases of AIDS reported in the U.S.  Of those cases, 285 (about 3%) were Haitians, said Dr. Walter Dowdle, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases. Previously the rate for Haitians had been as high as 5%. By contrast, about 75% of the cases were of males who identified as homosexual or bisexual.

”The Haitians were the only risk group that were identified because of who they were, rather than what they did,” he said.

April 22, 1985
‘The Normal Heart’ Opens at the Public Theatre

AIDS activist Larry Kramer’s autobiographical play, The Normal Heart, opens Off-Broadway at the Public Theater.  The play covers the impact of the growing AIDS epidemic on the NYC gay community.

Learn More.

It highlights the growing rifts between those — like the play’s protagonist, Ned Weeks (Kramer’s alter ego) — who are desperately banging on the doors of government and science in an attempt to stave off the annihilation of gay men, and those who focus instead on building new institutions that will care for the sick and the dying.

“The blood that’s coursing through ‘The Normal Heart,’ the new play by Larry Kramer at the Public Theater, is boiling hot,” said New York Times theater critic Frank Rich.

“In this fiercely polemical drama about the private and public fallout of the AIDS epidemic, the playwright starts off angry, soon gets furious and then skyrockets into sheer rage.”

 

May 1, 1985
‘As Is’ Opens on Broadway

William M. Hoffman’s play As Is opens on Broadway.

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The plot focuses on a gay couple who have broken up — but when one of them develops AIDS, his ex-partner comes back to take care of him — “as is.”

The play gets excellent reviews and runs for 285 performances.

“Strange as it may sound, Mr. Hoffman has turned a tale of the dead and the dying into the liveliest new work to be seen at the Circle Repertory Company in several seasons,” said New York Times theater critic Frank Rich.

August 27, 1985
Ryan White Refused Entry to School

Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who contracted AIDS through contaminated blood products used to treat his hemophilia, is refused entry to his middle school.

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His family’s protracted legal battles to protect Ryan’s right to attend school call national attention to the issue of AIDS, and Ryan chooses to speak out publicly on the need for AIDS education.

August 31, 1985
Pentagon Announces Testing of Military Recruits

The Pentagon announces that, beginning October 1, it will begin testing all new military recruits for HIV infection  and will reject those who test positive for the virus.

Learn More.

Two Pentagon officials, who spoke to The New York Times on the condition they not be identified, said the new directive was promoted most vigorously by top Army officials, out of concern about the potential high cost of treating soldiers who are found to have the disease. Pentagon officials said about 50 soldiers are being treated in military hospitals for the disease.

The U.S. military does not universally test potential recruits for any other disease or disorder as a condition of enlistment, although new recruits are usually tested for syphillis and German measles soon after they enlist.

The announcement was condemned by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which asserted that the testing would unfairly stigmatize many people who have been exposed to the virus but who do not have the disease.

Timothy Sweeney, executive director of Lambda Legal, also contended that military testing for HIV might become a precedent for AIDS screening in private industry.

September 17, 1985
Reagan Finally Mentions ‘AIDS’ in Public Remarks

President Ronald Reagan mentions AIDS publicly for the first time, calling it “a top priority” and fending off criticism that funding for AIDS research is inadequate.

Learn More.

By the end of 1984, AIDS had already ravaged the United States for a few years, affecting at least 7,700 people and killing more than 3,500. Scientists had identified the virus that caused AIDS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified all of its major transmission routes.

This is why it is notable that it took until September 1985, four years after the crisis began, for Reagan to first publicly address the subject of AIDS.

Exchanges between the Reagan administration and journalists in the early 1980s demonstrate that Reagan and his staffers didn’t take the epidemic very seriously, for which the Reagan administration is still heavily criticized.

Reagan’s successors in the White House eventually acted, albeit often very slowly, on the crisis — leading to much more research, programs like the Ryan White CARE Act that connect people to care, and the development of antiretroviral medication that increases the life expectancy of a person living with HIV by decades.

 

October 2, 1985
Actor Rock Hudson Dies

Actor Rock Hudson dies of an AIDS-related illness at age 59. As the first major U.S. public figure to publicly acknowledge AIDS diagnosis, Hudson’s death marks a turning point in public perceptions about the epidemic.

Learn More.

Hudson leaves $250,000 to help set up the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Actress Elizabeth Taylor serves as the organization’s founding National Chairman.

 

October 2, 1985
Congress Allocates $190M for AIDS Research

 Congress allocates nearly $190 million for AIDS research — an increase of $70 million over the Reagan Administration’s budget request.

Learn More.

The House Appropriations Committee also urges President Reagan to appoint a coordinator for the AIDS effort, “in other words, an AIDS czar.”

“Nine agencies have been engaged in this effort. … What we need is a well-coordinated, well-planned effort, with one person running the show,” said Rep. Silvio Conte, (Mass), the senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.

The National Institutes of Health would receive $140.6 million, the Centers for Disease Control would receive $45.6 milion and $3.5 million would go to the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

During debate on the appropriations bill, the House accepted an amendment by Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Calif.), that would allow the surgeon general to use some funds to close bath houses “that may be responsible for transmitting AIDS.”

October 12, 1985
B-52s Guitarist Ricky Wilson Dies

New-wave rock musician and founding member of the B-52s, Ricky Wilson dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 32.

Learn More.

The B-52s become popular for their dance tunes — “relentless, rhythmic songs built around Ricky Wilson’s scratchy, one- and two-chord guitar riffs, Kate Pierson’s throbbing keyboard bass lines, and Keith Strickland’s propulsive drumming,” writes James Henke in a 1980 feature in Rolling Stone.

Wilson’s musical inspirations were children’s music, The Mamas & The Papas, and Esquerita, writes Stephen Rutledge in The WOW Report.

“At first, The B-52s did not have a bass player, so Wilson invented his own tunings on a guitar, grouping the strings into a bass course,” Rutledge says.  “It was quite an original sound. It was a sound that I still continue to really dig.  I had some major fun on the dance floor in the late 1970s-early and 1980s, courtesy of the B-52s.”

In the beginning, the Athens, Georgia-based band would scrape together the resources to take trips to New York City to perform at Max’s Kansas City, CBGB’s and Club 57.

“My parents lent us their station wagon,” Ricky tells The Rolling Stone in a 1980 interview, “and we borrowed Keith’s parents’ charge card.”

By the winter of 1978, The B-52s would become the hottest club band in New York, and everyone would be trying to get a copy of their independently produced single, “Rock Lobster.

“At a time when an overwhelmingly straight, male punk scene ruled, The B-52s’ knowingly kooky aesthetic, along with their hilariously surreal lyrics in songs like ‘Quiche Lorraine,’ read as queer to those with the eyes to see it,” writes Billboard reporter Kera Bolonik.

Much of queer aesthetic came from Wilson’s songwriting.

“I remember seeing him write some music and laughing to himself,” says band member Cindy Wilson, who was Ricky’s sister.  “I said, ‘What are you laughing at?’  He said, ‘I just wrote the stupidest riff.’”

It would be for their first single, “Rock Lobster,” which became an instant hit with East Village audiences but wouldn’t reach mainstream listeners until the mid-1980s.  Wilson would go on to become the principle songwriter for the band’s first four albums.

“We were writing [fourth album] Bouncing Off the Satellites, and Ricky just got thinner and thinner,” band member Kate Pierson recalled in an interview years later.  “And we suspected, but we didn’t know.  One day he wasn’t there at rehearsal.  The next day, Keith [Strickland] called me and said, ‘Ricky’s dying of AIDS.’”

Wilson had confided in band member Strickland about his illness, but wanted to keep it a secret — even from his sister Cindy — so no one would worry about him or fuss about it.  Just a few days later, Wilson would die, Kate says.

“We were all mourning Ricky, and I was in a deep depression,” recalls Cindy Wilson in Classic Pop magazine.

The band would wait almost a year to release their fourth album and consider calling it quitsIn 1988, still mourning the loss of his close friend, Stickland isolated himself in the upstate New York countryside and began working on new songs.

“Eventually, he called Kate and me to see if we were interested in working on new music,” Cindy Wilson would tell Classic Pop.  “When we started jamming, it felt like Ricky was in the room with us. I was having a really hard time with the grieving and sorrow, but creating this music was such a wonderful thing. Ricky’s spirit was there and it was amazing.”

For Cosmic Thing, the first album without Ricky Wilson, band members reject the idea from industry professionals that they find a new guitarist.  Instead, Strickland would learn how to play guitar in Wilson’s unique style.

Inspired by Wilson, the band’s song “Roam” is “a beautiful song about death,” Cindy says.  “It’s about when your spirit leaves your body and you can just roam.”

October 25, 1985
NY Moves to Close Gay Bars & Bathhouses

The New York State Public Health Council empowers local health officials to close gay bathhouses, bars, clubs , and other places where “high-risk sexual activity takes place.”

Learn More.

The Public Health Council resolution went beyond recommendations made by Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and State Health Commissioner David Axelrod by defining “high-risk sexual activity” to include oral sex.

Mayor Edward I. Koch announced that the new regulation takes effect immediately and is to be enforced by NYC Health Department inspectors who will enter bathhouses in uniform and undercover.

The National Gay Task Force opposes the regulation, citing discriminatory practices.

“This appears to be an unequal application of law” because many experts say AIDS can be transmitted by heterosexual activity, said Ron Najman, a spokesman for the National Gay Task Force. “They are concentrating on the homosexual aspect.”

 

December 4, 1985
LA County Imposes Regulations on Bathhouses

Los Angeles County enacts strict regulations on local bathhouses to stop the spread of HIV, and bathhouse owners file suit to stop the regulations from going into effect.

Learn More.

The LA County Board of Supervisors introduced new county regulations that could put patrols inside bathhouses to ensure that patrons don’t participate in sex acts considered to be unsafe.

“If someone showed me data substantiating a correlation of the spread of this disease and my club, I would deliver the keys to City Hall tomorrow. But so far it’s only been speculation, hysteria and panic, ” Silver Lake bath house owner Steve Downard told the Los Angeles Times.

“The sexual activity at the club is the same as at the Biltmore Hotel, but there are no health posters, no monthly health screening and no free condoms at the Biltmore.”

Under the new County rules, unsafe sex is defined as anal and oral intercourse between men, with or without a condom. Clubs with repeated violations could face closure.

The fact that the county rules make no mention of heterosexual acts, which also can spread AIDS, is proof, Downard says, that homophobia, not health concerns, are behind the regulations.

December 6, 1985
CDC Issues Precautions to Prevent Mother-to-Infant Transmission

CDC issues recommendations on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.   It is believed that HIV is transmitted from infected women to their fetuses during pregnancy, or to their infants shortly after birth.

Learn More.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report recommends that HIV-infected women delay pregnancy until more is known about the risks of transmission, and advised new mothers to avoid breastfeeding.

Transmission of the virus during pregnancy or labor and delivery is demonstrated by two reported AIDS cases occurring in children who had no contact with their infected mothers after birth.

With studies on the subject of pediatric AIDS is just beginning, the rate of perinatal transmission of HIV from infected pregnant women is unknown and the limited amount of available data suggests a high rate.

However, the report contends that perinatal transmission (from an infected mother to her newborn) is not inevitable.

Of three children born to women who became infected with HIV by artificial insemination from an infected donor, all were in good health and negative for antibody to the virus more than 1 year after birth.  Another child, born to a woman living with AIDS, was HIV-negative and healthy at birth and at 4 months of age.

In December 1985, a total of 217 cases of AIDS have been reported among children under age 13, and 60% of them have died.

December 13, 1985
Infant Dwight Burk Dies

Dwight Burk , aged 20 months, dies of AIDS in Cresson, Pennsylvania. He was the first child of a hemophiliac known to be born with AIDS.

Learn More.

Dwight’s case prompted the National Hemophilia Foundation in April 1985 to advise hemophiliacs to postpone having children for a few years until scientists can perfect a technique to kill the AIDS virus in blood clotting concentrates.

Dwight’s father, 27-year-old Patrick Burk, was infected with HIV from his hemophiliac treatment of blood clotting concentrates. More than a year before learning he had HIV, he passed the virus to his 25-year-old wife, Lauren, who became pregnant with Dwight.

Doctors believe Dwight most likely contracted the disease in utero.

Burk told the Associated Press that an autopsy was to be performed at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and that the body would be used for medical study.

December 13, 1985
France Sues U.S. for Credit for Discovery of AIDS Virus

The Pasteur Institute files a suit against the U.S. Government in the U.S. Court of Claims in Washington, DC., seeking recognition that French researchers were the first to discover the virus that causes AIDS.

Learn More.

The long-simmering transatlantic feud over who will receive royalties on a test for the AIDS virus has erupted into a legal battle, with French scientists seeking recognition in the U.S. courts for their claim that they discovered the virus before their American counterparts.

The Pasteur Institute ‘s suit also seeks the right to grant permission to sell the blood test without being sued by the U.S. for counterfeiting, and the right to share in royalties collected by the U.S. for sales of blood tests by U.S. licensees.

The French scientists were the first to publish a paper on the virus, said Dr. Robert C. Gallo, the U.S. scientist credited with discovering HIV. But he asserts in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, “I was the first to suggest it was a retrovirus.”

“We had this virus in 1982. We didn’t publish on purpose because we didn’t understand it well enough to stick our necks out. To me, ‘discovery’ is a complicated word. Who first reported discovery of a virus?  They did.  But if the idea comes first — that was us.”

In July 1994, U.S. health officials would concede for the first time that American researchers used a virus obtained from French competitors to make the first American AIDS test kit. At that time, the U.S. would announce the signing of an agreement that would give the French a bigger share of royalties from worldwide sales of AIDS tests.

The contract would end the long-standing and sometimes acrimonious dispute that strained relations between the two countries.

 

December 19, 1985
LA Times Poll Indicates Americans Support AIDS Quarantine

An Los Angeles Times poll contends its that a majority of Americans favor quarantining people who have AIDS.

Learn More.

The LA Times poll found that more than half of its respondents support quarantining AIDS patients, nearly half would approve of ID cards for those who test positive for AIDS antibodies, more than a third would be willing to pay a one-cent national sales tax to finance greater research, and one in seven would favor such radical action as tattooing those with the disease.

The poll results came from interviews with about 2,300 across the U.S. — a very small pool of respondents — yet the announcement of the poll results garnered considerable attention nationwide with little regard to the small number of Americans involved in taking the survey.

In its article about the poll results, the LA Times also stated that most responents were adverse to electing homosexuals to office and were disinclined to support candidates who espoused homosexual causes.

“Even a whisper of suspicion about homosexuality was enough to turn almost 60% of the voters against a candidate for the office of President,” stated the LA Times article written by political reporter John Balzar.

“Respondents in the poll were given characteristics of make-believe candidates,” Balzar wrote.  “When a rumor of homosexuality was included in the descriptions, support for a make-believe candidate dropped from 70% to 11%.”

 

1985
Global Scope of Epidemic Becomes Manifest

The United Nations announces that at least one HIV case has been reported in each region of the world, indicating that the epidemic is becoming a global issue.

January 6, 1986
AIDS Hospice Founder & Publisher Charles Lee Morris Dies

Charles Lee Morris, former owner and publisher of the San Francisco Sentinel, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 42.  Morris is also the co-founder of two AIDS hospice programs in California.

January 16, 1986
Virus Spread Grows at Increasing Rate in U.S.

More people were diagnosed with AIDS in 1985 than in all earlier years combined, according to the CDC.  Public health experts predict twice as many new AIDS cases in 1986.

Learn More.

The CDC report states that, on average, people diagnosed with AIDS die about 15 months after the disease is diagnosed.  The report also shows:

  • Between 6/1/1981 and 1/13/1986, there have been 16,458 cases of AIDS (16,227 adults and 231 children) reported in the U.S.  Of these, more than half of the infected people have died.
  • The number of cases reported each 6-month period continues to increase.
  • Cases have been reported from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories.

“One million Americans have already been infected with the virus, and this number will jump to at least 2 million or 3 million within 5 to 10 years,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci tells The New York Times.

March 4, 1986
Award-winning Lyricist Howard Greenfield Dies

Howard Greenfield, the 20-year songwriting partner of Neil Sedaka, dies of AIDS-related illness in Los Angeles at the age of 49.

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Born in 1936, Greenfield grew up in the same Brighton Beach apartment building as Sedaka, who was three years older than Greenfield.

“After Howie’s mother Ella had seen me, he came ringing my doorbell,” Sedaka would tell Goldmine magazine years later.  “I was playing Chopin, and he said, ‘My mother heard you play and thought we could write a song together.'”

The first Greenfield-Sedaka hit would be ‘‘Stupid Cupid,” recorded by Connie Francis in 1958.  Later collaborations with Sedaka included ”Calendar Girl,” ”Oh! Carol” and ”Next Door to an Angel.”

Greenfield would write the lyrics for ”Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,’‘ ”Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen,” ”Love Will Keep Us Together” and more than 450 other songs throughout his career.

Greenfield was openly gay at a time when it was particularly courageous to do so. His companion from the early 1960s until his death was cabaret singer Tory Damon.

The two lived together in an apartment on East 63rd Street in Manhattan before moving to Los Angeles in 1966.  Damon would die of AIDS-related illness just 26 days after Greenfield’s death.

Greenfield’s and Damon’s bodies are interred side-by-side at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.  Damon’s epitaph reads: Love Will Keep Us Together…, and Greenfield’s epitaph continues: … Forever.

March 18, 1986
NYT Columnist William F. Buckley Proposes AIDS Tatoo

William F. Buckley, seen by many as the founder of the modern conservative movement, writes in The New York Times that people diagnosed with HIV should be tatooed with a warning on their arm and buttocks.

Learn More.

Under the heading “Critical Steps in Combating the AIDS Epidemic,” Buckley writes:

“Everyone detected with AIDS should be tatooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals.”

Buckley, founder of National Review magazine, also proposes that everyone seeking a marriage license must “present himself not only with a Wassermann test but also an AIDS test.”

He goes on to write that the couple could marry only after “the intended spouse is advised that her intended husband has AIDS, and agrees to sterilization.”

Looking back at this time, Michael Spector would write in The New Yorker in 2021, “Several years into a harrowing epidemic, gay Americans were told that an act of consensual sex could not only infect them with a fatal disease; it could also, at the will of a state, send them to prison. The fears of internment were not easily dismissed as hysteria.”

Buckley would later withdraw the proposal, because “it proved socially intolerable.”

At the time of his death in early 2008, Buckley would no longer be considered a journalist of any repute, although convervative cicles would continue to champion his ideas.  When he died, he was working on a book about President Ronald Reagan.

April 1, 1986
Actor Barry Robins Dies

Barry Robins, best known for his portrayal of troubled teenager “Cotton” in the 1971 film Bless the Beasts & Children, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 41.

Learn More.

In New York Times article, “The Gay Film That Changed My Life,” actor John Cameron Mitchell credits Robin’s portrayal of “Cotton” as having a profound impact on him as a boy.

In particular, Mitchell is moved by the scene in which Robin’s character saves another character, a “delicate, blond shiksa” named Gerold, from a gang of bullies.

“The mean boys part for Cotton as he reaches a hand out to the boy,” Mitchell recalls.  “Branded on my 10-year-old brain was Gerold’s heartbreaking expression when he realizes that for the first time there is someone he can trust and, just maybe, love.”

Mitchell adds, “It was sad to hear that Robins succumbed to AIDS in 1986.  If we’d met, I would’ve thanked him for helping me out of the pond.”

In 2013, actor and comedian Jason Stuart would tell A&U: Art & Understanding magazine:

“When Barry got really sick, he stopped seeing people, including me.  I was devastated.  I remember going by his apartment, knocking on his door, and he would not answer it.  He would tell me, ‘Go away. It’s better that way.’  I respected his wishes.  To this day I regret that.”

 

April 25, 1986
Dancer-Choreographer Ed Mock Dies

Dancer and choreographer Ed Mock — who fused modern dance and jazz dance, acting, improvisation and mime in his work — dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 48.

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Born in Chicago, Mock performed as a boy in his family’s pool hall, tapping out steps for customers.  Athletic in high school, he chose to pursue dance because, as he would tell the San Francisco Examiner in 1980, “I just love body movement, it was all just movement for me, and sports was just a function of that. I just was always aware of my body in a sort of a dance sense. I never try to tell anybody it’s an easy life, but not a day has ever gone past that dancing didn’t make me feel good emotionally and spiritually.”

As the founder of the West Coast Dance Company (1974-1979), Ed Mock Dancers (1980-1985), and the Ed Mock Dance Studio, Mock’s dance style and teaching influenced future generations of dancers and artists.

Brontez Purnell, Director of the documentary Unstoppable Feat: The Dances of Ed Mock, states, “I believe Ed Mock is the missing choreographic link between Alvin Ailey, Anna Halprin, and Bill T. Jones.  He is my direct predecessor, creatively.  We – artists, black queers, Bay Area dancers, gay men – have to extract our collective past and create the historical record.”

Mock would teach and perform taught and performed up until weeks before his death.  In 1988, he would posthumously be elected to the Bay Area Dance Coalition Hall of Fame.

 

 

May 1, 1986
AIDS Virus Officially Called ‘HIV’

The International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses announces that the virus that causes AIDS will officially be known as “Human Immunodeficiency Virus ” (HIV).

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An international committee of scientists is proposing that the AIDS virus be called by a new name: human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.

Until now, the closely related variations of the virus have been most frequently referred to as HTLV-3, for human t- cell lymphotropic virus type 3, or LAV, for lymphadenopathy associated virus.

HTLV-3 is the designation given by Dr. Robert Gallo and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute, co-discoverers of the virus and leaders in the American research effort. LAV is the name used by Dr. Luc Montagnier and associates at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, also credited as discoverers of the virus.

 

 

May 20, 1986
San Francisco Costume Designer Herman George Dies

Herman George, the first in-house costume designer for the long-running stage show Beach Blanket Babylon,” dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 46.  George also designed costumes for Charles Pierce and the San Francisco Opera.

May 30, 1986
Fashion Designer Perry Ellis Dies

Top fashion designer Perry Ellis dies at the age of 46.  Ellis presented his first collection under his own name on Seventh Avenue in 1978 and almost immediately achieved star status.

Learn More.

Both women and men adored Ellis’ fashion sense for its clean-cut, all-American look.  What the designer did best was take elements of classic American style — like stadium coats, tweed jackets, and homey sweaters — and adapt them to suit the consumer passion for gender-neutral, high-quality separates.

“Everyone was dying of AIDS, and I felt we had to do something,” fashion designer Donna Karan told Vogue in 2020.  “So I went to Perry, who was the president of CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) at the time.  I said, ‘Perry, we have to do something about this.’  And he was very sharp with me. He said, ‘Donna, this is a personal matter. This is not for public discussion.’”

Karan said she then noticed Perry’s face had signs of Kaposi sarcoma.

“But Perry, are you okay?” she asked him.  And she knew he wasn’t.

Fashion designer Michael Kors recalled:  “What really, truly, abruptly woke up the entire fashion industry was Perry walking out at the end of his last fashion show.  He barely could walk, and here was someone young, talented, great-looking, full of charm and life, and suddenly this was a shell of a human being.”

Ellis dies at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, which reports the cause of death as “viral encephalitis,” an inflammation of the brain.  Ellis, who had been ill for several months, entered the hospital on May 8 and slipped into a coma about a week before his death.

Everett C. Koop with NMAC
July 18, 1986
Black Community Mobilizes for Action

At the National Conference on AIDS in the Black Community, minority leaders meet with U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop to discuss concerns about HIV/AIDS in communities of color.

National Minority AIDS Council is founded at the conference.

Learn More.

The conference was organized by the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays, with co-sponsors the National Minority AIDS Council, and the National Conference of Black Mayors, and was funded by a U.S. Public Health Service grant.

Other conference topics include:

  • the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS on African Americans,
  • the role of IV drug use and heterosexual transmission in the AIDS epidemic within black communities,
  • the need for culturally competent AIDS education for black communities,
  • the lack of representation in gay and black media outlets of the epidemic among African Americans, and
  • a plea to black churches to respond to the epidemic.

Frederick Garnett, a black man living with AIDS, addresses the conference, bringing public awareness to the racial disparities in how the AIDS epidemic is addressed in Washington, DC, where he lives.

A staff psychologist at St. Elizabeths Hospital and the founder of a support group for Persons Living With AIDS, Garnett says that although African Americans make up half of the people with AIDS in Washington, DC, they are largely absent from clinics and support groups.

Born in Chicago and a graduate of Northwestern University, Garnett had studied for a doctorate in psychology at Adelphi University, completing all but his dissertation before moving to Washington in 1983.

Fifteen months after the 1986 National Conference on AIDS in the Black Community, Garnett would die at the Hospice of Northern Virginia on Oct. 22, 1987, of complications resulting from AIDS, at the age of 32.

Three weeks before his death, Garnett would receive an “American Who Cares” award from the National AIDS Network for his dedication to AIDS education in minority communities.  Garnett served as a board member of the National Association of People With AIDS, the National Minority AIDS Council, and the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington.

 

August 2, 1986
Notorious Lawyer Roy Cohn Dies

Roy Cohn, best known for his role as chief counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s investigation of alleged Communist sympathizers, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 59.

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A graduate of Columbia Law School at the age of 20, Cohn quickly made a name for himself in his first job with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, prosecuting cases of people with alleged ties to the Communist Party.

Impressed with Cohn’s performance at the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for spying, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover would recommend that Cohn be hired as chief counsel to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. McCarthy, who chaired the panel, hired the 24-year-old Cohn in January 1953.

“People born in the 1940s or earlier remember Cohn and his master performing on television,” writes Mary Ellen Clark in her 1988 book The Snarling Death of Roy M. Cohn.  “They remember coming home to be hushed by a mother or aunt who was watching the hearings; they remember a father’s opinion, expressed at the family table when families still ate together.”

“For younger people, however, Roy Cohn was simply another name for a très smart lawyer, for Disco Dan, for the international, I-go-by-private-plane man,” writes Clark.

Throughout his later life, Cohn was well known for his lavish Washington parties, with wealthy and famous friends among his guests.

“He was a figure very tough and in on things, a champion of the underdog, though definitely running with the overdog pack,” Clark writes.  “He nested on the nighttime radio call-in shows; he spread his wings over Koppel on Nightline.  He appeared to be able to avoid all taxes and all penalties, maybe because he was connected, or on the A list, or known to the headwaiters and hostesses of New York.”

Cohn would be indicted four times from the mid-’60s to the early ’70s — for stock-swindling, obstructing justice, perjury, bribery, conspiracy, extortion, blackmail, and filing false reports.  He is acquitted in three of the cases, and in the fourth, he would escape with a mistrial.  This experience would give him “a kind of sneering, sinister sheen of invulnerability,” writes Michael Kruse in Politico.

Cohn would be diagnosed with HIV in 1984 after having a doctor examine a small cut from shaving that wouldn’t stop bleeding.  During the visit, the doctor would re­move two suspicious growths and the tests would reveal Cohn is HIV positive.

Cohn’s lover Peter Fraser, a New Zealander roughly half Cohn’s age, reported that, “When he found out, he didn’t cry but a couple of tears.”

Cohn would publicly deny that he was HIV positive and would keep his sexuality closeted for the rest of his life.  According to Robert E. Bauman, who says he first meets Cohn on the day McCarthy dies in 1957, Cohn paradoxically had a reputation for “fag bashing” and loudly opposed laws that protected gays from discrimination.

In his last months of life, Cohn would be disbarred from law practice in New York for old fraud charges and he would lash out at the bar ethics committee, calling members “a bunch of yoyos.”

Cohn once said he wanted the first line of his obituary to read: “Roy M. Cohn, who served as chief counsel to Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy.”

“Cohn didn’t quite get his wish,” writes Bauman.

When Cohn dies, the headlines would trumpet the fact that he died from complications of AIDS.  The mention about McCarthy would come second.

August 24, 1986
San Francisco Actor-Drummer Chaz Watson Dies

Charles “Chaz” Watson, who acted in stage productions in the Bay Area, dies at the age of 37.  Watson was also a drum major for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band.

September 22, 1986
Historian Anthony Herschel Perles Dies

Transportation historian Anthony Herschel Perles — author of Tours of Discovery, co-author of The People’s Railway and Inside MUNI — dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 50.

September 23, 1986
Bay Area Actor-Director Raymond Tasco Dies

Raymond Tasco, an actor with Oakland Ensemble Theatre and Black Repertory Group, dies of AID-related illness at the age of 40.

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Tasco directed several works at Theatre Rhinoceros and Lorraine Hansberry Theatre.  He also co-founded the Bay Area Black Artists’ Connection support group.

1986
AIDS Health Services Program Launches in 11 U.S. Cities

The AIDS Health Services Program launches with $17.2 million in funding for patient-care projects in 11 major cities.

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Created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the AIDS Health Services Program seeks to replicate Ward 86’s San Francisco Model of HIV Care nationwide — but with an emphasis on tailoring programs to meet the needs in local context.

The goals of the program are to develop community-based services for persons with AIDS and to determine factors that facilitate or impede service.

The foundation starts with nine projects located in 11 communities: Atlanta, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Nassau County (NY), New Orleans, Newark, Jersey City, Seattle, and West Palm Beach.

The AIDS epidemic in each site varies substantially.  Lack of health insurance represents a problem for the majority of clients in states having the most restrictive Medicaid policies (Atlanta, New Orleans, and Dallas) and in communities where a large proportion of clients enter the program before their condition progresses to AIDS (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach).

Between 1987 and 1990, the average annual population with AIDS in program sites increase 126% (with increases ranging from 91% to 175%). During that period, the average increase in the number of persons alive with an AIDS diagnosis in these eleven cities is 191%, ranging from 181% to 257%.

The men and women attempting to build a network of coordinated services for persons with HIV/AIDS find themselves with an extremely difficult task.  As the epidemic progresses, there is a substantial increase in the scope of the epidemic as well as change in the racial, sex, and risk-group composition of HIV-infected persons.

Program staff have to cope with confusing state and federal policy, complicated by changes in medical treatment and in the conceptualization of AIDS. In 1986, AIDS is still perceived as an acute, fatal illness, and policies for expanding terminal care benefits are the focus of discussion. However, soon the focus would shift to early intervention and ongoing treatment programs for a new chronic disease.

October 6, 1986
APLA Founder Nancy Cole Sawaya Dies

Nancy Cole Sawaya, co-founder of AIDS Project Los Angeles, dies in Sherman Oaks Community Hospital from AIDS-related illness at the age of 40.

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Two months before, on August 4, Sawaya publicly disclosed that she had contracted AIDS, apparently from sexual encounters with men prior to her marriage, at least one of whom later died of AIDS complications.

“I just wish people would realize that it could happen to anybody,” Sawaya would tell the Los Angeles Times.  “I do this couple support group on Monday nights, and all these people are a group of well-educated, down-to-earth, loving, successful people.  It’s not the image like when you see on TV — they immediately shoot to Santa Monica Boulevard, somebody in leather, groping the other person, and it’s not like that.”

Sawaya began her HIV/AIDS advocacy work in 1982, when she helped to create the first hotline in Los Angeles to share verified medical information about the disease.  In December 1982, she hosted a Christmas party to raise $8,000 for a new organization — AIDS Project Los Angeles.  In early 1983, APLA would open its doors on Cole Avenue, with herself, Max Drew, Matt Redman, and Ervin Munro as Founders.

In the beginning, APLA had five clients, which would grow to 100 by the end of the year, and by the middle of 1984, APLA would serve 200 clients — and the numbers kept growing.  Sawaya was the first to manage APLA’s client services operation, often working 60 hours a week.

Sawaya would leave behind her husband, Louis; and an adopted daughter, Morgan.

1986
U.S. Grant Program Feeds Growing Healthcare Needs

The U.S. launches the AIDS Service Demonstration Grants program, allocating $15.3 million in available funding to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.

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The grant program is run by the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  As the HRSA’s first AIDS-specific health initiative, program focused its funding on cities hardest-hit by HIV/AIDS.

In the years to come, the HRSA would create the HIV/AIDS Bureau and develop a comprehensive system of HIV primary medical care, medications, and essential support services for low-income people with HIV.

The HIV/AIDS Bureau will oversee the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and play a critical role in helping diagnose, treat, prevent, and respond as part of the “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America” initiative.

Koop report (2)
October 22, 1986
Surgeon General Releases Report on AIDS

The Surgeon General issues the Surgeon General’s Report on AIDS. The report makes it clear that HIV cannot be spread casually.

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The report, issued by U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D., also calls for a nationwide education campaign that includes early sex education in schools, increased use of condoms, and voluntary HIV testing.

“By the end of 1991, an estimated 270,000 cases of AIDS will have occurred with 179,000 deaths within the decade since the disease was first recognized,” Dr. Koop states in the report’s preface.

“In the year 1991, an estimated 145,000 patients with AIDS will need health and supportive services at a total cost of between $8 and $16 billion.”

October 24, 1986
Black & Latinx Cases Grow at Higher Rate

CDC reports that AIDS cases are disproportionately affecting black and latinx communities. This is particularly true for children in these communities, who make up 90% of perinatally-acquired AIDS cases.

October 29, 1986
Report Calls for Nationwide Education Campaign

The National Academy of Sciences issues a report calling for a “massive media, educational and public health campaign to curb the spread of the HIV infection,” as well as for the creation of a National Commission on AIDS.

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The report, titled  Confronting AIDS: Directions for Public Health, Health Care, and Research,  is issued by  the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the principal health unit of the NAS.  The IOM anticipates that the cost of the public health campaign will reach $2 billion by 1990.

The mission of NAS is to provide scientific advice to the government “whenever called upon” by any government department. The Academy receives no compensation from the government for its services.

November 21, 1986
Actor Marcelino Sánchez Dies

Marcelino Sánchez, best known for his starring role as Rembrandt in the 1979 cult classic, The Warriors, dies of AIDS-related illness in his Hollywood home at the age of 28.

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Born in Puerto Rico, Sánchez began acting in the late 1970s, according to the Los Angeles Blade. He played Ricardo on The Bloodhound Gang mystery vignettes featured on the 1980s children’s educational television show 3-2-1 Contact.  He also appeared in TV shows CHiPs, Hill Street Blues and the film 48 Hrs.

In an interview with Noblemania.com, Bloodhound Gang co-star Nan-Lynn Nelson recalled:

“Marcelino had actually contacted me months prior to his passing to let me know that he was sick. We met and spent an entire day together while he was here in NYC, basically to say good-bye.  I still think of Marcelino often.”

In 1986, Sánchez’s health would decline quickly.  His sister and brother would come to Los Angeles to take care of him until his death just a two weeks shy of his 28th birthday, according to the tribute to him on Gran Varones, a website dedicated to pop culture, queer history & storytelling through a Afro-Latinx Queer lens.

 

November 25, 1986
Bay Area Opera Director Arthur Conrad Dies

Arthur Conrad — director of more than 200 productions for the Marin Opera, West Bay Opera, Oakland Opera, Sacramento Opera and the Lamplighters — dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 51.

December 2, 1986
Bay Area Actor-Director Chuck Solomon Dies

Founder of the Gay Men’s Theater Collective and co-creator of its pioneering “rimes Against Nature, Chuck Solomon dies of AID-related illness at the age of 40.

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As an actor and director, Solomon worked with several local companies, including the San Francisco Mime Troupe and Theatre Rhinoceros. He is immortalized in Marc Huestis’ video “Chuck Solomon: Coming of Age.”

1987
Cleve Jones Creates First Panel for AIDS Memorial Quilt

AIDS activist Cleve Jones creates the first panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in honor of his friend Marvin Feldman, who died on October 10, 1986 of AIDS at the age of 33.

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The quilt panel measures three feet wide by six feet long — the size and shape of a typical grave plot.

The idea of the quilt comes to Jones in November 1985 while he’s planning the annual candlelight march honoring the 1978 assassinations of gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.

While planning the march, Jones learns that over 1,000 San Franciscans have been lost already to AIDS.  He asks each of his fellow marchers to write on placards the names of loved ones who have died of AIDS, and at the end of the march, Jones and others stand on ladders taping the placards to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building.  Jones notes that the wall of names look like a patchwork quilt, and an idea is born.

 

WHO bilingual
February 1, 1987
Global Response Begins with WHO Program

The World Health Organization (WHO) launches the Special Programme on AIDS to serve as the architect and keystone of a global AIDS plan.

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The mission of the Special Programme is to:

  • raise awareness;
  • formulate evidence-based policies;
  • provide technical and financial support to countries;
  • initiate relevant social, behavioral, and biomedical research;
  • promote participation by nongovernmental organizations; and
  • champion rights of those living with HIV.

With the technical and financial support of the Special Programme, AIDS programs rapidly begin to be established in nations throughout the world.  The program recogizes that AIDS affects both the developing and the industrialized worlds; and, therefore, every country will need a national AIDS program.

WHO puts forth the idea that a global response is vital not only for national interests but also because “ultimately AIDS cannot be stopped in any one country unless it is stopped in all countries.”

At the global level, the Special Programme is responsible for strategic leadership, developing consensus, coordinating scientific research, exchanging information, assuring technical cooperation and mobilizing and coordinating resources. By the end of 1988, the Special Programme would support every country in the world that requests collaboration.

In 1988, it will be renamed the Global Programme on AIDS.

February 4, 1987
Pianist-Showman Liberace Dies

Emmy-Award winning pianist and mainstay of the Las Vegas entertainment scene Liberace dies at his Palm Springs, California home at the age of 67.

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Liberace’s doctor claims that the man called “Mr. Showmanship” died of a heart attack caused by an underlying brain infection. But an autopsy by the county coroner reveals that Liberace died of AIDS-related illness.

Just weeks before his death, Liberace was treated at Eisenhower Medical Center for what his staff called “the effects of a watermelon diet.”  Hundreds of friends and tourists kept vigil outside of his Palm Springs home as rumors of his real illness became rampant.

When death seemed imminent, his attorney would tell reporters that Liberace chose his Palm Springs home to die because, “I think he wanted to rest in the place he loves. He’s always thinking about his fans. He wants to be remembered as he was — an entertainer. I think it’s nice that fans are here and supporting him.”

The news of Liberace’s death demonstrates the powerful stigma of AIDS and leads to a national discussion about the rights of people living with AIDS to privacy, both before and after death.

February 12, 1987
Sacramento Musician Neal Lo Monaco Dies

Neal Lo Monaco, the pincipal cellist of the Sacramento Symphony and a member of the Sacramento String Quartet, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 41.

Silence equals Death
March 12, 1987
Activist Larry Kramer Founds ACT UP

Activist Larry Kramer founds the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP ) at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York City.

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Kramer’s goal is to create a political direct-action group that will force governments, elected officials, public health agencies, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, and religious institutions to act to protect those at risk of HIV, and those who are sick with AIDS.  The organization was founded in response to the U.S. government’s lack of action on the growing number of deaths from HIV infection and AIDS.

ACT UP quickly made its name with tactics that were unapologetically confrontational, says David France, the author of a history of AIDS activism called How to Survive a Plague, as well as a 2012 documentary by the same name.

Time magazine calls ACT UP “the most effective health activist [group] in history ” for “pressuring drug companies, government agencies and other powers that stood in their way to find better treatments for people with AIDS — and, in the process, improving the way drugs are tested and approved in the U.S.”

Antonio Lopez
March 17, 1987
Fashion Illustrator Antonio Lopez Dies

Antonio Lopez, whose drawings appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and Interview, dies of AIDS-related illness at the UCLA Medical Center at the age of 44.

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Based in New York, Lopez had come to Los Angeles for a showing of his drawings at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica when he became ill and was hospitalized, according to fashion model Susan Baraz.

Lopez is credited with launching the careers of Jessica Lange, Jerry Hall, Tina Chow and Grace Jones, and he also was the first artist to use black models in his work, which was seen in the top fashion magazines in the mid-1960s.

He also was credited with being the first artist to draw not only the inanimate creations of the haute couture but to idealize the models behind them.

His family migrated to New York City when Lopez was seven and he attended P.S. 77 on East 104th Street.  To keep her son preoccupied and away from street violence, Lopez’s mother, a seamstress, would ask him to draw flowers for her embroideries, according to the tribute to Lopez on the Visual AIDS website.

While a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, he received a work-study assignment at Women’s Wear Daily, where his talent was immediately recognized.  WWD put him on staff and he left FIT.

At the time of his death, Lopez had been in California for an exhibition of his fashion drawings and personality portraits at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica. An exhibition of his drawings was also taking place in Munich, West Germany.

Lopez’ creative partner, Juan Eugene Ramos, would die of AIDS-related illness eight years later, on Nov. 3, 1995, at the age of 53.

In 2016, a retrospective of Lopez’ and Ramos’ work was exhibited at El Museo del Barrio in New York.  The exhibit, “Antonio Lopez: Future Funk Fashion,” was curated to evoke serious discourse on gender, sexuality, race, and heritage, and simultaneously invited viewers to revel in Lopez’ and Ramos’ legacy.

AZT
March 19, 1987
U.S. Approves AZT, First Medication for AIDS

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the first medication for AIDS — AZT (zidovudine), an antiretroviral drug initially developed to treat cancer.

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FDA directors approve AZT treatment, even though they have serious concerns about the toxicity of the medication.

As the only medication available to treat HIV, AZT becomes a highly sought-after treatment, one fraught with side effects.

AZT therapy can lead to the damage of muscle tissues, including the heart, and also suppresses the production of red blood cells, neutrophils, and other cells in the bone marrow, causing symptoms such as fatigue, malaise, and anemia.

Many patients taking AZT experience gastrointestinal intolerance, nausea and vomiting. Rarer side effects include lactic acidosis and hepatic steatosis.

The drug’s approval remains controversial to this day, but in a world where treatment options are so far advanced, it can be hard to imagine the sense of urgency permeating the medical community in the 1980s.

Today, if someone is diagnosed with HIV, he or she can choose among more than 40 drugs that can treat the disease. And there’s a good chance that with the right combination, given at the right time, the drugs can keep HIV levels so low that the person never gets sick.

March 24, 1987
FDA Accelerates Drug Approvals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues regulations that expand access to promising new medications that have not yet been approved or licensed by the agency. This accelerates the approval of drugs by two to three years.

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In a few months, the FDA would go on to issue treatment IND (investigational new drug) regulations on May 22 to permit new drugs to be used to treat patients before clinical trials are completed where no alternative therapy exists for a “serious disease.”

In its explanation of the regulations, the FDA mentions advanced cases of AIDS as the first example of an immediately life-threatening disease, but did not include AIDS in its list of examples of serious diseases.  It explained that some diseases, like multiple sclerosis, are not serious at earlier stages, and that the Treatment IND regulations would not apply to drugs intended to treat those earlier stages of disease.

March 24, 1987
ACT UP Marches on Wall Street

The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) stages its first protest on Wall Street, bringing widespread attention to the AIDS epidemic.

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ACT UP’s first-ever demonstration takes place at the busy intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, near Trinity Church, a location selected with the goal of disrupting the morning rush hour.

Some 250 protestors, many of whom laid down in the street and/or held signs, call for corporate and government action to end the AIDS crisis.  The protest targets pharmaceutical companies that are profiteering from the epidemic, specifically Burroughs Wellcome, the company manufacturing the high-priced AZT.

Demonstrators chant “We are angry, we want action” and “Release those drugs.”  Seventeen people are arrested.

A flyer announcing the protest lists several immediate demands, including:

  • the release of life-saving drugs by the FDA,
  • the availability of affordable drugs,
  • a program to educate the public to combat the spread of AIDS, and
  • enacting policies to end AIDS-related discrimination in the workplace, housing, insurance, and medical treatment.

Soon after the demonstration, the FDA would announce it would shorten its drug approval process by two years, a process that normally took up to nine years, time that those living with HIV did not have.

March 31, 1987
American & French Researchers Share Credit for Discovery of Virus

President Ronald Reagan and French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac end an international scientific dispute when they announce that researchers from the two countries will share credit for discovery of the AIDS virus.

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The countries agree that patent rights to a blood test that emerged from that discovery will also be shared, with most of the royalties to be donated to a new foundation for AIDS research and education.

This settles a years-long rift between the two countries, each laying claim to the valuable patent for the first HIV-antibody test.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services claimed virologist Robert Gallo first developed the test, while the Pasteur Institute claimed it was French virologist Luc Montagnier.

Gallo had won the prestigious Lasker Award in 1986 for his share of the work (his second Lasker, having won in 1982 for his work on retroviruses).

Years later, the National Institutes of Health would conduct an investigation that proves Gallo and his colleagues first had isolates of HIV with the exception of one sample that originated from the Pasteur Institute’s lab (which was requested by the Gallo lab and sent to them from Paris).

Gallo and Montagnier later agree to share the title of co-discovers of the virus and they write several papers together describing their work in Science (Dec. 29, 2002) and the New England Journal of Medicine (Dec. 11, 2003).

However, in 2008 when Stockholm would call with the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, it was only for Luc Montagnier.  The scientific world would be shocked to learn that the Nobel Committee was snubbing Gallo’s work, but because those archival records are locked up until 2058, we will not know the precise argument behind this decision for many years.

C Everett Koop (2)
April 6, 1987
Dr. Koop Focuses on Children with AIDS, Calls for Sex Ed

At a four-day workshop at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop draws attention to the plight of the growing number of children who acquire AIDS from their mothers or through blood transfusions.

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The workshop kicks off with a large press conference, where Dr. Koop announces that AIDS is a growing menace to the nation’s children and reiterates his call for early sex education as part of the general effort to halt its spread.  He recommends that sex education start in kindergarten and include information about AIDS.

”It’s the responsibility of parents, and it should begin before children go to school,” Dr. Koop says.

He mentions that parents are often reluctant to discuss sex with their children, and so the burden falls upon schools, churches and synagogues to teach children and youth about sex and AIDS.

“If parents don’t do it, they’ve abrogated their responsibility and somebody else has to do it,” Dr. Koop says.

Dr. Koop’s stance for early sex education puts him at odds with some of his fellow conservatives.

The workshop brings together families affected by HIV, leading HIV researchers and clinicians, mental health professionals, public health officials, and representatives from the insurance, legal, and nonprofit organizations.

In the last week, the number of children under 13 years old diagnosed with AIDS reaches 471, double the number of cases reported a year ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In addition, there are 139 cases among teen-agers.

But Dr. Koop says these figures do not include as many as 2,000 children who have some AIDS symptoms but who do not meet the strict Federal definition of the illness, and he says the number of infected children is expected to continue to increase ”dramatically.”

Dr. Koop also notes that a disproportinate number of children infected with AIDS are members of minority groups: about 50% are black and 33% are Hispanic.

”We have, therefore, a segment of society that is very difficult to reach,” Dr. Koop says.

Condom pink
April 7, 1987
FDA Declares HIV Prevention as Indication for Condoms

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes the sale of male condoms to include HIV prevention as an indication for use, marking a major stride in public health communication and safe sex and HIV/AIDS transmission.

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AIDS brings condoms back to the forefront for sexually active people of all sexual orientation.

Nevertheless, condom use does not equal 100% protection from HIV, and its effectiveness largely depends on correct and consistent use.  Also, some people are allergic to the latex, lubricants, and perfumes.

The FDA also begins to test latex condoms for leaks, resulting in an improvement in the overall  quality of condom products.

April 17, 1987
Fashion Designer Willi Smith Dies

Fashion star Willi Smith dies in New York at the age of 39.

Smith was apparently unaware that he had contracted the virus and had shown no symptoms.

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Thinking he was suffering from an attack of shigella, a form of dysentery, acquired on a textile-buying trip to India, Smith admitted himself to the hospital, where tests showed he was HIV positive.

At the time of his death, Smith was regarded as one of the most successful African-American designers in the fashion industry.  His company, WilliWear Limited, launched in 1976 and by 1986 was grossing over $25 million in sales.

“Smith was, in the truest sense of the word, a streetwear designer, long before anyone used the term,” writes Jenny Comita in W magazine.  “Even as he was collaborating with some of the most avant-garde artists of the day and staging fashion shows that doubled as performances, he was taking his cues as a designer from the women he saw on the sidewalks of midtown.”

Smith was born in Philadelphia, the son of an ironworker and a homemaker.  He studied drawing at Mastbaum technical school and, later, fashion illustration at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art.

His big break came through his grandmother Gladys, who worked as a housekeeper. One of her clients had a connection to the famed couturier Arnold Scaasi and secured an internship for Willi.

Smith’s first major role, in 1969, was as head designer of the sportswear label Digits, where he quickly made a name for himself with bright, bold prints; flowy high-waisted pants; and an ahead-of-its-time marketing campaign featuring women on the gritty streets of New York. Two years later, he became the youngest designer to be nominated for a Coty Award, then the fashion equivalent of an Oscar.

In 1976, he and his former assistant Laurie Mallet founded WilliWear; she handled the business side and he the design. WilliWear’s affordable, wearable clothes were picked up by Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and eventually hundreds of stores.

Smith designed the costumes for “Secret Pastures,” a 1984 work by dance pioneers Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane; Keith Haring created the sets.  Smith also contributed to Spike Lee’s 1988 musical comedy-drama School Daze, making the gowns for the homecoming court.

Many of his friends wonder what would have happened if Smith had lived.

Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, curator of the Willi Smith: Street Couture exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. says:

“We’ve been told that he wanted to move to India permanently, a place he visited constantly.  He might have gone to Hollywood to produce films full-time after making a short film called Expedition.”

Smith’s legacy is the streetwear that lives on in menswear season after season.

Princess 1987
April 19, 1987
U.K. Princess Extends Hand to Person Living With HIV

Princess Diana makes international headlines when she is photographed shaking the hand of an HIV-positive patient in a London hospital.  She goes on to become a passionate advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS.

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The 26-year-old Princess of Wales reportedly was living with the specter of AIDS every day. In the loneliness of her failing marriage to Prince Charles, gay men arere the bedrock of her private world: fashion designers, ballet dancers, art dealers and numerous members of the palace staff. They sympathize with her, escort her, lighten her load. It pains her to watch them sicken and die.

When London’s Middlesex Hospital invited Princess Diana to open the Broderip Ward, the U.K.’s first dedicated ward for AIDS and HIV-related diseases, she agrees to do it.  She is intensely nervous, but she knows it is the chance to dispel the stigma surrounding the disease.

“With her instinctive understanding of the power of gesture, she resolved not only to open the new ward but to shake the hands of 12 male patients without gloves,” writes Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles.

In a time when fear and misinformation runs rampant surrounding the transmission of a disease widely associated with gay men, the simple act of shaking an ill patient’s hand was a headline-making moment that helped educate the public.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Princess Diana would go on to use her platform to bust myths about how HIV/AIDS could be contracted, and spends time with people affected by the virus around the world.

She would become an official patron for the National AIDs Trust, and spoke of the impact on mothers and children, further dispelling the myth that it was purely a problem for the gay community.

Even after her death, her legacy continues with her sons, who would continue to help fight the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDs.  Prince Harry would take an HIV test on live TV to show how easy it is, and Prince William would appear on the cover of Attitude Magazine to discuss the mental health issues faced by victims of homophobia and transphobia.

April 29, 1987
Western Blot: FDA Releases Updated HIV Test

FDA approves a new, more specific test for HIV antibodies, the Western blot blood test kit.

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For several years, the HIV-1 Western blot would be considered the “gold standard” for laboratory diagnosis of HIV-1 infection, but is no longer recommended. The two main reasons for this are the inability of the Western blot to detect acute infection and the potential to misclassify HIV-2 infection as an HIV-1 infection.

A report in Nature in June 1993 would conclude that researchers need to “reappraise” the use of the Western blot antibody tests as a diagnostic and epidemiological tool for HIV infection.

May 15, 1987
U.S. Bans HIV-Positive Immigrants & Travellers

The U.S. Public Health Service adds HIV as a “dangerous contagious disease” to its immigration and travel exclusion list. The HIV ban will not be lifted until 2010.

Learn More.

“It was not the discovery of HIV alone, but the economic and political climate of the 1980s that led to the introduction of the ban,” writes Dr. Susanna E. Winston and Dr. Curt G. Beckwith in AIDS Patient Care STDS.

In the early 1980s, a worldwide economic recession drove immigrants to enter the U.S., fueling American fears of foreigners taking jobs and becoming a burden on the health and welfare systems.  This coincided with the explosion of the AIDS epidemic, with fear and misunderstanding about the disease feeding into the growing xenophobia.

It is in this environment that HIV/AIDS is added to the U.S. list of dangerous contagious diseases.

At first, only individuals whose illness advanced to AIDS are excluded from U.S. travel (based on the argument that AIDS affects a person’s wage-earning capacity). But then, under pressure to demonstrate efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic, President Reagan moves to require all immigrants be tested for HIV, and that HIV infection (with or without AIDS) be included as a disease of public health significance.

This adds HIV to the list of dangerous diseases that includes leprosy, tuberculosis, syphilis and gonorrhea.

The U.S. starts mandatory AIDS testing of the 500,000 applicants seeking permanent residence.  The ban includes travellers from other countries who test positive for HIV.

The ramifications of the HIV immigration and travel ban would come to light both domestically and internationally with the case of Hans Paul Verhoef.  While traveling to San Francisco to attend the 1989 National AIDS Forum, Verhoef, an HIV-infected Dutch citizen and rising chair of the Dutch HIV Foundation, would be detained and arrested when Immigration and Naturalization Service agents find AZT in his luggage.

Verhoef’s arrest sets off an outcry from the international AIDS community in objection of the ban, with protests and threats of boycotts of the two upcoming international conferences, planned for San Francisco (1990) and Boston (1992).  For the 1990 International AIDS Conference (IAS), President George H.W. Bush issues an executive order temporarily waiving the ban for all attendees.  But IAS organizers decide to hold no further conferences in the U.S. until the ban is revoked, and the 1992 IAS conference is relocated from Boston to Berlin.

The travel ad immigration ban would be lifted 22 years later, on January 4, 2010.  A new federal rule under President Barack Obama’s administration would be heralded as a monumental achievement, accomplished through the hard work of advocates.

 

May 31, 1987
President Reagan Makes His First Public Speech about AIDS

President Ronald Reagan makes his first public speech about AIDS at the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) Awards Dinner.

At the event, attendees shout out their opposition to parts of President Reagan’s speech.

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Event attendees “boo” Reagan when he says he asked the Department of Health and Human Services “to add the AIDS virus to the list of contagious diseases for which immigrants and aliens seeking permanent residence in the United States can be denied entry.”

Attendees also voice their opposition when he goes on to say he is directing the testing of Federal prisoners, those seeking care at veterans’ hospitals, active members of the military, and applicants for marriage licenses.

Among the event attendees are amfAR Founder and National Chairperson Elizabeth Taylor and amfAR President Dr. Mervyn Silverman.

After Reagan speaks, Taylor tells the audience, “While there are differences of opinion on AIDS testing,” Reagan’s remarks are ”basically in concurrence with what we all hope and pray for,” namely a cure for the disease.

AmfAR advocates for voluntary, confidential testing accompanied by intense counseling, adds Dr. Silverman.

After the event, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop said he ”found no fault with the speech” and that he considered it reasonable to test Federal prisoners and immigrants and to offer the test to marriage applicants.  He also said he was embarrassed by the reaction of some in the audience.

“I never heard anyone boo the President before,” he said.

June 24, 1987
President Reagan Creates Commission on AIDS

President Reagan signs an Executive Order creating the first Presidential Commission on AIDS

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On June 26, Reagan would appoint Dr. W. Eugene Mayberry, CEO of the Mayo Clinic, to chair the commission.  Jeff Levi, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force would object to the appointment of someone with no experience with the disease, but others praise Mayberry’s experience in both medical research and clinical services.

The president also appoints commissioners:

  • Dr. Colleen Conway-Welch, dean of nursing at Vanderbilt University
  • John J. Creedon, CEO of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
  • Dr. Theresa L. Crenshaw, a sex educator and opponent of condoms as a means of preventing the spread of HIV
  • Richard M. DeVos, president of Amway
  • Dr. Burton J. Lee III, a physician at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • Dr. Frank Lilly, a geneticist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Lilly served on the board of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and is “one of the first openly gay Presidential appointees”
  • Dr. Woodrow A. Myers Jr., an African American, the health commissioner of Indiana, and president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers
  • Cardinal John O’Connor, an opponant of including instruction about condoms in AIDS education programs in schools
  • Penny Pullen, an Illinois legislator. advocate of mandatory premarital HIV testing who would go on to found the conservative Christian organization Illinois Family Institute
  • Corinna “Cory” SerVaas, editor of the Saturday Evening Post
  • Dr. William B. Walsh, president of Project HOPE, a medical relief organization
  • James D. Watkins, a retired admiral

Dr. Lilly of the GMHC is considered to be the most controversial appointment, opposed by conservaties including Sen. Gordon Humphrey (R-New Hampshire).

“The President should strive at all costs to avoid sending the message to society – especially to impressionable youth – that homosexuality is simply an alternative lifestyle,” Sen. Humphrey tells The New York Times.

At the commission’s first meeting, Lilly finds himself seated next to Cardinal O’Connor, and they would be observed “chatting cordially.”

June 27, 1987
Hustler Publisher Althea Flynt Dies

Wife of Larry Flynt and publisher of Hustler magazine, Althea Flynt drowns in a bathtub in her Bel-Air mansion in Los Angeles at the age of 33.  Her husband says she was diagnosed with AIDS four years ago and likely fell asleep while bathing.

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Althea is Larry Flynt’s fourth wife, and because she married him in 1976, she is the only partner who joins him in his rise to celebrity.  She would meet Flynt in Ohio, while working in one of his clubs as a go-go dancer.

Born in poverty in a Kentucky mining town, Althea Flynt was orphaned at eight years old, when her father murdered her mother and her grandfather and her mother’s best friend, and then killed himself.  Flynt recounted her childhood ordeal in a 1978 interview with New York magazine:

“They put you in a bare room with dirty floors and a single mattress that was stained and filthy and stank,” she said. “I still remember the smell. They put a pot and a roll of toilet paper in the room. Then they locked you in.”

In the late 1960s, she and Larry Flynt started a relationship that would last until the rest of her life.  As partner in her husband’s publishing business, she would be known to come to work in outrageous attire, including in leather dog collars and bangled chains that ran from her ear to her nostril.

As documented on video from Flynt’s library, Althea’s style was complex and highly unusual, particularly once she came into money and moved to Los Angeles. Her attraction to drug culture, Sunset Strip clubs and punk rock led her to patronize Hollywood shops like North Beach Leather and Trashy Lingerie.

In March 1978, her husband would be shot by a religious extremist, leaving him paralyzed and in pain, and she would remain with him, for better and for worse.

In a 1983 magazine article by the Washington writer Rudy Maxa, the Flynts would descibe how Larry tried to manage the pain with methadone, marijuana, cocaine, sleeping pills, morphine, and Dilaudid.  Althea would experiment with drugs with her husband, and soon both would become addicted to narcotics.

She would be diagnosed with HIV in 1983, reportedly from a blood transfusion while undergoing a hysterectomy.  Larry Flynt explained that Althea “always used clean needles when using drugs.”

The cause of Althea’s death is a perscription drug overdose-induced drowning, according to the coronor’s report.  Her husband, however, states that she was in the advanced stages of AIDS and would have died within that year, regardless.

Flynt’s body is buried in Saylersville, Ky., where her husband keeps a family burial plot.

In 1997, Althea would be portrayed by singer-actress Courtney Love in The People vs. Larry Flynt; Love’s performance with garner her a Golden Globe Award nomination.

July 2, 1987
San Francisco Ballet Dancer Sean O’Neill Dies

Dancer Sean O’Neill, who performed with the Pacific Ballet and also edited the San Francisco Ballet program, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 29.

July 11, 1987
Gay Games Founder Tom Waddell Dies

Dr. Tom Waddell, founder of the Gay Games, dies of AIDS-related illness in San Francisco at the age of 49.

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Waddell was a superior athlete, good enough to take sixth in the world in the decathlon in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, writes Mart Dobrow of ESPN.  He was a paratrooper in the Army, and a doctor with a sense of adventure — working in Africa on patients with tropical diseases and becoming the physician for the Saudi Arabian Olympic team in 1976.

“To Waddell, the symbolism of the Games spoke to his highest ideals: the five interlocking rings, the parade of nations, the torch being lit,” writes Dobrow.  “In some ways, this felt like sports at its most pure. It brought people of the world together.”

After his athletic career, Waddell would worked for years as a medical consultant for Whittaker Corp., enjoying the opulence of the Saudi royal family in Riyadh.  When he wasn’t in the Middle East, he settled in San Francisco.

There, in the hub of American gay life, Waddell embraced the bacchanal fully, its drug use and promiscuity, before finding what he hoped was true and lasting love with Charles Deaton, a 50-year-old former CIA operative.

Then Waddell had a grand vision; it started out as the “Gay Olympic Games.”  Waddell was aware that for many gay people, sports had meant a door slamming shut.  His goal was to open the door of completitive sports wide open to the LGBTQ community.

He modeled the Gay Olympic Games after what he considered to be the true principles of the Olympics: equality, fairness, human dignity.  Except that the U.S. Olympic Committee didn’t see it that way.

Just 19 days before the games were to begin, the USOC persuaded a federal court to issue an injunction prohibiting Waddell and his group, San Francisco Arts & Athletics, from using the word “Olympic” because of copyright infringement.

Waddell was incredulous and wounded to the core. He pointed out that in the past there had been no opposition to multiple other uses of the term (e.g., the Special Olympics).

With no legal recourse, Waddell and the SFAA scrambled to remove the offending word from a slew of merchandise and promotional material.  The hastily rechristened “Gay Games” played out nevertheless in the summer of 1982 with some 1,300 athletes from 12 countries participating.

By the next summer, as Gay Games 2 came to a now-besieged San Francisco, Waddell knew his days were numbered. He checked himself out of the hospital, marched in the opening ceremonies, and delivered a stirring opening address as part of the Games, which attracted some 3,500 athletes from 17 countries.

In one final feat of athletic strength, Waddell managed to win the gold medal in the javelin.  Within a year, he was gone.

Today, the Gay Games live on and are help in locations all around the world, including Amsterdam, Sydney, Paris and Hong Kong.  Since 1986, The Federation of Gay Games Scholarship Fund has awarded more than 1,000 scholarships to underfunded LGBTQ+ individuals from 70 countries around the world, where the daily struggle for equality is harsh and often dangerous.

Tom Waddell’s core principles of Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best continue to bring thousands of athletes together to compete.

Every four years in conjuntion with the Gay Games, the Tom Waddell Award is presented to a person or organization involved in the Gay Games that embodies the standards of commitment, selflessness, and love of humanity, and inspires pride through leadership and excellence in sports, culture, or volunteerism.

July 29, 1987
Gay Cinema Pioneer Arthur J. Bressan Jr. Dies

Arthur J. Bressan Jr., best known for his devastating 1985 AIDS drama Buddies, dies of AIDS-related illness in New York City at the age of 44.

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A pioneer of independent gay cinema in the 1970s and ’80s, Bressan is best known for his 1985 drama Buddies, the first feature film about the AIDS pandemic.  He also directed the largely influential Gay USA, the first documentary by and about LGBT people, and the feature film Abuse (1983).

“If you want to submit one director as the auteur for the post-Stonewall, pre-New Queer Cinema era of Gay Liberation, Arthur J. Bressan Jr. is that director,” writes film critic Caden Mark Gardner.

Bressan’s first credited film work is that of a documentary short called Coming Out, about the first official San Francisco Pride march in 1972.  Shot in 16mm and in color, it offers a snapshot of many people who made the pilgrimage to San Francisco.

Bressan would expand this cinematic approach for his 1978 feature-length documentary, Gay USA, made during the National Gay Freedom marches across the country in 1977, the year Harvey Milk became America’s first openly gay elected official.

“Many of the interviewers and testimonies in Gay USA are not just talking about the pleasantness of seeing themselves and being out at this Pride parade, but are speaking with righteous indignation about homophobic violence and systemic homophobia,” Gardner writes.

Bressan’s 1983 film Abuse, a drama with an intensely provocative portrayal of child abuse, is hailed by film critic Rex Reed as “a film of astonishing power and emotional impact.”

“Artie loved butch men and women, drag queens, black, brown and white,” writes Emmy Award-winning director Greta Schiller.  “Artie was exceptional in that he loved women. He had none of the misogyny that was (and still is) rampant in our culture, even in the LGBT community. He knew who and what he was, and he was not threatened by women.”

Schiller, who met Bressan in 1983 through activist Vito Russo at a screening of Abuse, said she went to the event “angry that it was a film about a man in authority sleeping with an abused teen.”

After watching the film, she emerged “with my mind blown by the complexity of what I’d seen.”

Russo convinced Schiller to share her reaction to Abuse with Bressan.

“I told him it was a brilliant film that made me realize not all older men who fall in love with a younger man are predators,” she recalled.  “The story and acting made me think of Italian postwar neorealist films.”

Schiller says that when Bressan became sick, he was determined to complete Buddies.

“He cut the film on a flatbed in his tiny apartment. He poured his heart and soul into making one last film,” she writes.  “I lived a few blocks away from him [in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City], and I would come get him for a walk around the block. Soon, he could only make it to the corner of 18th Street and 8th Avenue, a block from his home. He would gaze at the high-school boys and talk about the ones he fancied, and how those who were gay would have a better, freer life.”

About 10 years after Bressan’s death, his sister Roe Bressan and LGBT film historian Jenni Olson would launch The Bressan Project to preserve and promote Bressan’s films.

August 4, 1987
Cost of Ongoing AIDS Treatment Estimated at $50 Billion

A task force of the Society of Actuaries issues a report claiming that the cost of AIDS to insurance companies could exceed $50 billion by the year 2000.

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The study, commissioned by the 10,000-member Chicago-based organization, also predicts that future life insurance policies could add $30 billion to $60 billion to the total, depending on whether applicants are screened for the AIDS virus.

The study bases its findings on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, which suggests that 15% of those infected with the AIDS virus develop the fatal disease after five years and up to 36% are stricken after seven years.

The CDC reported there were 8,000 AIDS deaths in 1986, and is projecting that the number to rise to 54,000 by 1991.

The authors of the study, who are actuaries for the State Mutual Life Assurance Company of America, contend that based on the Federal projections, AIDS claims are expected to go up by a factor of 10 by the 1990s.

August 5, 1987
Florida Schools Ordered to Enroll HIV-Positive Brothers

A federal judge orders the DeSoto County School Board in Florida to enroll HIV-positive brothers Ricky, Robert, and Randy Ray.

The board had refused to allow the three boys, who have hemophilia, to attend the district’s schools in their hometown of Arcadia, Florida.

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After the court ruling, some town residents would refuse to allow their children to attend school, many would anonymously call the Ray home with threatening messages, and ultimately someone would set fire to the Ray house, destroying it and forcing them to move.

“Arcadia is no longer our home,” their father, Clifford Ray, tells the press the day after the fire. “That much was made clear to us last night.”

Ricky, Robert and Randy, who were 10, 9 and 8 at the time, were all born with hemophilia, a condition that required them to receive blood transfusions.

Ricky would go on to become an activist in the fight against AIDS.  President Bill Clinton reaches out to him and thanks him for his work raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.

The young teenager allows camera crews to document his declining health and states he wants America to see what AIDS did to people.  Ricky Ray dies in 1992 at age 15.

Robert would die of AIDS-related causes in 2000 at the age of 22.  Shortly thereafter, their father would attempt suicide but survives.

Randy Ray would marry in 2001 and settle in Orlando, Florida, managing his HIV through medication.

August 14, 1987
CDC Updates Guidelines for Counseling & Antibody Testing

The CDC releases guidelines for public health agencies to help them reduce fear and concerns as they implement HIV testing programs.  The report encourges agencies to target outreach to at-risk populations and strengthen policies for patient confidentiality.

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The report, titled Perspectives in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Public Health Service Guidelines for Counseling and Antibody Testing to Prevent HIV Infection and AIDS, reflects the strong stance by the CDC against the unauthorized disclosure of personal information and inappropriate discrimination against those who seek to be tested.

Per the guidelines, health agencies should endeavor to provide ready, confidential access to HIV testing to those most at risk of HIV infection.

As examples, the report cites programs offering counseling and testing to gay men, IV-drug users, persons with hemophilia, the sexual and/or needle-sharing partners of these persons, and patients of sexually transmitted disease clinics.

The report also addresses the issue of false-positive HIV test results and its impact, stating that most false-positives are due to human error and more precautions should be used by medical personnel to ensure the accuracy of results.

“All laboratories should anticipate the need for assuring quality performance of tests for HIV antibody by training personnel, establishing quality controls, and participating in performance evaluation systems,” the report advises.

 

August 18, 1987
Human Testing of HIV Vaccine Begins

FDA sanctions the first human testing of a candidate vaccine against HIV.  While the clinical trials do not lead to a vaccine, the FDA approval marks an important milestone in the development of HIV/AIDS treatment options.

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Manufactured by MicroGeneSys of West Haven, Conn., the vaccine will move forward to clinical trials supervised by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  Just months ago, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the FDA was considering several candidate vaccines and that human trials could begin in 1987.

In early 1993, MicroGeneSys would pull the vaccine, called VaxSyn, from National Institutes of Health trials because the pharmaceutical company could not agree with the NIH over the dosing schedule. The vaccine has already been selected for inclusion in a $20 million U.S. army trial program.

Today, there is no vaccine available to prevent HIV infection or treat those who have it.

However, scientists are working to develop one. NIH is investing in multiple approaches to prevent HIV, including a safe and effective preventive HIV vaccine. These research efforts include two late-stage, multinational vaccine clinical trials called Imbokodo and Mosaico.

 

August 21, 1987
Universal Precautions Introduced to Medical Environment

CDC updates its recommendations for the prevention of HIV transmission in healthcare settings, calling for medical workers to practice universal precautions.

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The report emphasizes the need for healthcare workers to consider all patients as potentially infected with HIV and/or other blood-borne pathogens and to adhere rigorously to infection-control precautions for minimizing the risk of exposure to blood and body fluids of all patients.

The CDC defines healthcare workers as “persons, including students and trainees, whose activities involve contact with patients or with blood or other body fluids from patients in a healthcare setting.”

Universal precautions are listed in the report, along with precautions for invasive procedures, dentistry, dialysis, laboratory procedures, and autopsies and mortuary work.

dont just worry about it 1
September 30, 1987
HIV/AIDS PSAs Pop Up in America

The CDC launches its PSA campaign, America Responds to AIDS, to kick off the newly designated AIDS Awareness Month (October).

Reaching millions, the campaign is the first on the subject of AIDS prevention, and becomes a central prong in the “everyone is at risk” strategy of AIDS prevention.

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From 1987 to 1996, the America Responds to AIDS campaign reaches a wide range of audiences variously defined by identity or behavior, from heterosexual single mothers, to teenagers of all races, to young adult African Americans, to people who live in rural areas.

The five-phase campaign releases materials to the general public in various mediums, including a national mailer. The themes of the five phases were:

  • General Awareness: Humanizing AIDS, October 1987
  • Understanding AIDS, the national mailout, April 1988
  • Women at Risk/Multiple Partner, Sexually Active Adults, October 1988
  • Parents and Youth, May 1989, and
  • Preventing HIV Infection and AIDS: Taking The Next Steps, July 1990

The campaign suggests that the best way to respond to HIV/AIDS is to engage in honest conversations about risk behaviors, including the potential consequences of multiple partners, unprotected sex, intravenous drug use, or any activities that compromise the ability to make a sound, safe judgment.

Not all applaud the effort.  Service providers working with groups with a high incidence of HIV/AIDS (most notably young men who have sex with men and intravenous drug users) see the campaign as ignoring the particular needs of these communities in favor of supporting low-risk individuals.

While the CDC claims to be engaging with all Americans, critics argued that the campaign failed to provide adequate outreach and education to those who needed it most.

1987
Most Americans Cite AIDS as World’s Most Urgent Health Issue

By the time Gallup would field its next survey in 1990, national AIDS policy had developed to the point that the U.S. Congress was passing the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, and the share of the public naming AIDS as a top problem had fallen to 49 percent.

This measure further declined in the 1990’s, a decade that saw major advances in HIV treatment including the development of effective combination anti-retroviral therapy. By 2009, the proportion who named AIDS as the nation’s top health problem had fallen to single digits.

However, in the coming years, black Americans would continue to be prevalent among those naming HIV as the nation’s most urgent health problem.

October 11, 1987
AIDS Memorial Quilt Displayed on National Mall in DC

The AIDS Memorial Quilt goes on display for the first time on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The display features 1,920 4×8 panels and draws half a million visitors.

leather man
October 11, 1987
Helms Amendment Imposes Restrictions on AIDS Education

In a 94-2 vote, the U.S. Senate adopts the Helms Amendment, which requires federally financed educational materials about AIDS to stress sexual abstinence and forbids any material that “promotes” homosexuality or drug use.

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The Helms Amendment is incorporated into the $129 billion Labor, Health and Human Resources and Education appropriations bill for fiscal 1988, containing $310 million for AIDS education efforts overseen by the Centers for Disease Control.

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina) initially proposed that none of the money allocated to the CDC be used for material or activities that promote, encourage or condone homosexuality, illegal drug use or any sexual activity outside marriage.

During floor debate, Sen. Helms exhibited sex-positive comic books created by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York and announced that federal money helped to pay for GMHC’s education program.

″If the American people saw these books, they would be on the verge of revolt,″ Helms said.

Helms says he showed the comic books to President Reagan at the White House, and told him the group had received $674,679 in federal funds. According to Helms, Reagan looked at a couple of pages, ″shook his head and hit the desk with his fist.″

Helms then admitted that the comic books were not paid for with federal funds, but said taxpayer dollars did pay for a series of educational sessions he contended were equally offensive.  He said the sessions included assignments to write a personal ad for publication in a gay newspaper and list alternatives to high-risk sex, as well as instruction in the use of safe sex photos.

″I may throw up,″ Helms said.

Sen. Lowell Weicker (R-Connecticut) and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-New York) are the only two Senators to vote against the Helms Amendment.

Weicker lectured Helms for moralizing and said his amendment ″means unnecessary lives lost.″

″We don’t have time to get into philosophical or academic or moralistic debates. We’d better do what the experts have told us to do — put our money into research and put our money into education.″

The response from Lori Behrman, spokeswoman for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, is: ″Jesse Helms, first of all, is playing with the lives of thousands of Americans. It sends a message that the gay community is expendable in this epidemic.″

The Helms Amendment will have a chilling effect on CDC’s ability to stop the spread of AIDS among drug addicts, homosexuals and sexually active heterosexuals, particularly young people.

This is the latest in a long conflict among lawmakers about what federal AIDS education materials should say and how graphic they should be.

Frederick Garnett
October 22, 1987
Advocate & Educator Frederick Garnett Dies

National Minority AIDS Council co-founder and board member Frederick Garnett dies at the age of 32 of complications resulting from AIDS, at the Hospice of Northern Virginia.

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Three weeks before his death, Garnett would receive an “American Who Cares” award from the National AIDS Network for his dedication to AIDS education in minority communities.  Garnett also served as a board member of the National Association of People With AIDS and the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington.

Born in Chicago and a graduate of Northwestern University, Garnett studied for a doctorate in psychology at Adelphi University, completing all but his dissertation before moving to Washington in 1983.

Fifteen months before his death, in July 1986, Garrett addressed the National Conference on AIDS in the Black Community, bringing public awareness to the racial disparities in how the AIDS epidemic is addressed in his adopted hometown of Washington, DC.

A staff psychologist at St. Elizabeths Hospital and the founder of a support group for Persons Living With AIDS, Garnett expressed his concerns to conference members that although African Americans made up roughly 50% of people living with AIDS in Washington, DC, they were largely absent from clinics and support groups.

The conference was organized by the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays, with co-sponsoring organizations National Minority AIDS Council and National Conference of Black Mayors.

October 22, 1987
Worldwide Impact of AIDS Tops Concerns at United Nations

At the 42nd convening of the United Nations, AIDS becomes the first disease ever debated on the floor of the General Assembly.  The UN resolves to mobilize in the worldwide struggle against AIDS.

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“AIDS is one of those critical issues, like nuclear weapons, global development, and environmental pollution, which affects the future of all peoples in all countries,” says UN Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar in his address.

“It is, in many senses, a global combat, and it threatens us with all the consequences of war – not only of massive death tolls and even greater an numbers of disabled,” he said, “but of orphans, of mass displacements, of loss of productivity, of overwhelming and bankrupting demands on financial, administrative and human resources, of fear, anger and panic, and of social instability.”

In closing, Pérez de Cuéllar says:  “We must combat fear with knowledge, panic with reason and isolation with compassion. We must affirm through solidarity that we are but one human family.”

After the World Health Organization gives a presentation on the global status of AIDS, the UN General Assembly designates WHO to lead the worldwide effort to end HIV/AIDS.

And the Band
1987
And the Band Played On: Book Recounts Early Years of HIV

Journalist Randy Shilts’ book about the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic, is published.

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When Shilts joined the San Francisco Chronicle in 1981 he was the publication’s first openly gay journalist. He had been hired to cover issues in the gay community, though he also reported other stories. As part of his beat, he wrote about the growing number of immune system-related diseases occurring in gay men in San Francisco.

In the early 1980s, he persuaded The Chronicle to let him report on AIDS full time.  “And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic,” a history of the first five years of the epidemic, is largely the result of his newspaper work.

In the book, Shilts charges the Reagan Administration, the medical establishment and even some gay organizations with indifference to the disease.

The book would make Shilts a trusted commentator on AIDS, to the point that he becomes the closing speaker at the Fifth International AIDS Conference in Montreal in 1989.

Shilts also wrote The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982) and the bestselling Conduct Unbecoming: Lesbians and Gays in the U.S. Military, Vietnam to the Persian Gulf (1993).

Shilts would die of AIDS-related illness on Feb. 17, 1994 at his ranch in the Sonoma County redwoods, at the age of 42.

Debra F H
1987
National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS is Founded

Debra Fraser-Howze , director of teenage services at the Urban League of New York, founds the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS .

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The organization works to educate, mobilize, and empower black leaders to meet the challenge of fighting HIV/AIDS and other health disparities in their local communities.

Fraser-Howze would lead the NBLCA for 21 years as President and CEO.  She would also become advisor to two U.S. Presidents (Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) while serving on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS from 1995-2001.

As the nation’s oldest nonprofit organization of its kind, dedicated to educating, mobilizing and empowering Black leaders to meet the challenge of fighting HIV/AIDS, the NBLCA would evolve to become a comprehensive advocacy, policy and action organization that addresses multiple health disparities affecting Blacks/African Americans.

In 2019, the organization would change its name to National Black Leadership Commission on Health (Black Health), with an expanded focus that includes not only HIV/AIDS, but also Hepatitis C, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, sickle cell, diabetes and mental health.

November 13, 1987
AMA Declares Ethical Obligation to Treat PWA’s

The American Medical Association declares that doctors have an ethical obligation to care for people with AIDS, as well as for those who have been infected with the virus but show no symptoms.

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In a response to reports that some doctors are refusing to treat patients who are HIV-positive , the AMA advises physicians that it is unethical to deny care in such situations if the care required is within the doctor’s normal range of practice.

AMA ethics council also tells physicians that if a patient carrying the AIDS virus refuses to discontinue dangerous sexual practices, a doctor should notify public health authorities and even take it upon himself to directly inform individuals who may be in danger of infection.

The new AMA strictures conflict with California law, under which it is illegal for a doctor, without the patient’s consent, to tell anyone a person has tested positive for the AIDS virus or has AIDS.

The AMA states that no evidence exists that large numbers of doctors have refused to treat patients who tested positive for the AIDS virus.

But an AMA spokesperson concedes, “There have been physicians who have chosen to make public statements that they will not treat HIV-positive people. Those statements have generated tremendous amounts of discussion and debate.”

December 3, 1987
Hollywood UMC Member Lyle Loder Dies

Lyle Loder, member of the congregation of the Hollywood United Methodist Church, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 37.

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Loder was a key leader in development of an LGBT witness among United Methodists in southern California during the early 1980s, recalls his friend Morris Floyd.

Feeling called to the United Methodist ministry, Loder studied philosophy and religion and served as a student pastorate while at Kansas Wesleyan University in the early 1970s, according to Floyd.  However, Loder chose to not hide his identity, and by the time of his graduation from KWU, the denomination had incorporated into its Discipline the language describing same-sex relationships as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

“Lyle’s dream of serving as a United Methodist clergyman was never realized,” writes Floyd in the LGBTQ Religious Archives Network.

Instead, Loder would go on to help build a local congregation that would welcome lesbian and gay United Methodists in the Hollywood area.  By 1986, Loder would be an active member of HUMC and he would share with the congregation that he was living with AIDS.

In October 1987, the Health and Welfare Ministries Division of the Board of Global Ministries hosted a consultation conference on AIDS at a hotel near the San Francisco airport.  Loder was invited to help plan the conference and participate in a panel discussion about the needs of people living with AIDS.

“Lyle’s participation on a panel, sharing his story, and in the midst of it, despite everything, his love for God and his refusal to give up on the United Methodist Church,” recalls Floyd.  “He was frail and only a few weeks from death, though he did not know it at the time.  If ever God’s Spirit was present anywhere, it shone in Lyle in those hours.”

On November 29, 1987, the day before his birthday, Loder was admitted to the hospital, where he was visited by his brother.  When Loder died a few days later, many friends came to his hospital room, spread rose petals on his bed, and sang hymns

Memorial services were held at HUMC and again at Loder’s home church in Kansas.  Loder was the first of the HUMC family to die of complications of HIV/AIDS, but he wouldn’t be the last.

A memorial plaque inside the church narthex carries the names of Loder and 34 additional members of the congregation who died in the early years of the pandemic. On World AIDS Day in 1993, members of HUMC fashioned two giant red ribbons and attached them to the tower of the church.  In 1996, more permanent ribbons replaced them and remain today.

Loder’s life is also memorialized by three panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, one of them made by church and community worker Donna Kay Campbell.

January 6, 1988
San Francisco Dancer-Teacher Joah Lowe Dies

Dancer and dance teacher Joah Lowe dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 34.

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Lowe performed in the San Francisco area and taught dance classes, including one titled, “Lessons in the Art of Flying.”

In 2004, dancer Keith Hennessy was asked to write about Lowe, his first dance teacher.

“Joah taught a weekly class, an introduction to contemporary dance that involved technique and improvisation,” Hennessy writes.  “Joah, thanks a lot.  Thanks for welcoming me, for steering me into the future and away from the past….  You were my first authentically intuitive man.”

The Joah Lowe collection — which includes theater, performance and dance ephemera, performance and dance production notes, and related art and artifacts from Lowe’s work — is stored at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco.  The collection includes material collected by Charlie Halloran, a dancer who worked with Lowe and who subsequently died in 1993, also from AIDS-related illness.

March 3, 1988
Teen Ryan White Testifies before President’s Commission on AIDS

Ryan White, the Indiana teenager who has become a national spokesperson for AIDS education, testifies before the President’s Commission on AIDS about the stigma he has endured.

April 29, 1988
Flamenco Dancer Cruz Luna Dies

Nationally known flamenco dancer Cruz Luna dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 50.

 

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A native of Spain, Luna learned flamenco dancing in cafes there and studied later in Mexico and Los Angeles. He launched his career at the age of 17 with appearances on the Ed Sullivan and Dave Garroway television shows.

Luna danced in an international tour with the Ballet Nacional of Spain and in a Broadway show titled Ole! Ole!  He moved to San Francisco in 1959 and performed with the Smothers Brothers and Phyllis Diller. From 1960 to 1974, he operated Cafe Madrid in North Beach and presented flamenco dancers from around the world.

He dies at Garden Sullivan Hospital in San Francisco.

May 26, 1988
Surgeon General Launches Nationwide Education Campaign

The U.S. Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, launches the U.S.’s first coordinated HIV/AIDS education campaign by mailing 107 million copies of a booklet, Understanding AIDS, to all American households. It is the largest public health mailing in history.

June 22, 1988
Opera Conductor Andrew Meltzer Dies

Andrew Meltzer, resident conductor with the San Francisco Opera, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 40.

June 28, 1988
German Actor Kurt Raab Dies

Kurt Raab, best remembered for his work with German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, dies of AIDS-related illness in Hamburg at the age of 46.

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Born in 1941 in the Bohemian town of Bergreichenstein (now part of the Czek Republic), Raab started life as the son of a farm hand.  While attending high school at Straubing, he would befriend Peer Raben, the future composer for many Fassbinder films, and the two would move to Munich together.

Raab would play his first role in Raben’s staging of Antigone, where they both would meet Fassbinder.  In 1969, Raab would play the lead role in Fassbinder’s Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? and then go on to perform in numerous other Fassbinder films and TV productions.

Raab is considered one of the most versatile members of Fassbinder’s stock company, and he would work on more than 30 of the director’s films, on and behind the screen.

Before he died, he worked to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in Germany. In 1987, he discussed his illness in Herbert Achternbusch’s Wohin?, a film about AIDS hysteria. Shortly before his death in 1988, he made Mitten im Leben, a documentary about AIDS, for Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen.

Raab’s tragic death in 1988 played out publicly and painfully in Germany, where understanding of the illness was poor at best.

The actor was practically quarantined in the Hamburg Tropical Institute, and following his death, his body was frefused burial in Steinbeißen, the Bavarian town where his family had settled in 1945.

His body would be shipped to Hamburg, where he would be buried in the Ohlsdorf Cemetery.

Raab’s last days were recorded for Yearning for Sodom, which he codirected with Hanno Baethe and his former Fassbinder colleague Hirschmüller, and for which Raab would be posthumously awarded the Adolf Grimme Award.

July 9, 1988
Stage & Film Actor Anthony Holland Dies

Actor Anthony Holland, whose health was declining due to infection with HIV, commits suicide in his Manhattan apartment; he was 60 years old.

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A graduate of the University of Chicago, Holland had been a member of the original Second City comedy troupe, where he met Joan Rivers, with whom he remained friends until his death.

He made his Broadway debut in 1963 in Lillian Hellman’s comedy My Mother, My Father and Me. His half-dozen subsequent Broadway roles included Division Street and We Bombed in New Haven. He appeared in many regional-theater productions, as well as Off Broadway productions of Brendan Behan’s ‘Quare Fellow, Eugene Ionesco’s Victims of Duty and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

He gave one of his best performances in The Hunger Artist, Martha Clarke’s 1987 adaptation of several stories by Franz Kafka.

“His soft voice, unpretentiously conversational in tone yet mesmerizingly grave, could be Kafka’s,” Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times.

In 1979, he gives a standout performance in the film All That Jazz as Broadway songwriter Paul Dann, and appears in scores of other films between 1964-1986.

Holland took his own life just as he was entering the final stages of the disease “in what can only be called an act of sheer bravado,” writes friend David Ehrenstein.  He had saved enough medication to facilitate a lethal overdoes.

“Tony had elected to make his exit on a day when he was in a good mood,” Ehrenstein recalled.  “He was in New York at that time and friends recall seeing him around town at his usual haunts in high spirits.

Holland had left instructions for the paramedics and even rubber gloves in case they were concerned about handling an “AIDS corpse.”

July 23, 1988
FDA Approves Importation of Experimental Drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announces it will allow the importation of small quantities of unapproved drugs for people with life-threatening illnesses, including HIV/AIDS.

August 1, 1988
San Francisco Actor Tommy Pace Dies

Tommy Pace, a member of the pioneering Gay Men’s Theater Collective, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 39.  Pace was known locally as a brilliant comic actor with the Angels of Light.

August 1, 1988
U.S. Announces Pediatric AIDS Service Grants

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration awards $4.4 million in grants to 11 states and Puerto Rico for the first pediatric AIDS service demonstration projects.

Learn More.

The HRSA-funded projects are expected to demonstrate effective ways to:

  • reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV;
  • develop coordinated, community-based, and family-centered services for infants and children living with HIV; and
  • develop programs to reduce the spread of HIV to vulnerable populations of young people.
August 6, 1988
Bay Area Theater Designer Jesse Hollis Dies

Jesse Hollis, the resident set designer at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 39.  Hollis’ designs were seen at theater and opera companies throughout the country, including Berkeley Rep, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Magic Theatre.

August 9, 1988
Needle-Exchange Program Begins in Tacoma

On a sidewalk in Tacoma, Washington, drug counselor David Purchase sets up the nation’s first needle-exchange program to combat the spread of HIV .

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Although secures support from the Tacoma mayor and police chief for his one-man effort, Purchase must pay out-of-pocket for the needles.

Within five months, he would exchange 13,000 clean needles for contaminated ones.

Purchase would go on to form the North American Syringe Exchange Network, and become known as the “Godfather of Needle Exchange.”

August 15, 1988
Angels of Light Founder Rodney Price Dies

Rodney Price, co-founder of the wildly creative Angels of Light performance troupe in San Francisco, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 38.

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Price may be best remembered for his final performance, singing and tap dancing in his wheelchair in the film short Song From an Angel.  Made two weeks prior to his death, Price performs a darkly humorous song about his own death, “I’ve Got Less Time Than You.”

August 24, 1988
‘Boys in the Band’ Actor Leonard Frey Dies

Leonard Frey, an actor admired for his vivid and often flamboyant performances, dies of AIDS-related illness at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan at the age of 49.

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In 1968, Frey received critical acclaim for his performance as Harold, a bitter, bitchy, gay man who dreads his upcoming birthday, in off-Broadway’s The Boys in the Band.  He, along with the rest of the original cast, appeared in the 1970 film version, directed by William Friedkin, as well.

Frey was nominated for a 1975 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in The National Health. For his role in the film version of Fiddler on the Roof, Frey earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Motel the tailor.

Frey also had a number of screen credits to his name, including films The Magic ChristianWhere the Buffalo Roam and Tattoo and the television series’ Mission ImpossibleQuincy, M.E. and Barney Miller.

 

September 22, 1988
Concert Pianist David Anthony Keith Dies

David Anthony Keith, Bay Area concert pianist, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 35.

October 11, 1988
Entertainer Wayland Flowers Dies

Wayland Flowers, best known for creating and voicing the sassy puppet Madame, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 48.

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Wayland Flowers was one of the first openly gay entertainers to find acceptance in mainstream America.

“In an era when even Paul Lynde was still in the closet, Flowers hid nothing,” says Kevin Phinney in his article “This is How Wayland Flowers and Madame Made the ’80s so Gay” in MetroSource.

After refining his act, Flowers’ made a national splash on The Andy Williams Show. From there, Flowers became a regular presence on network TV — although it was not unusual for Madame to get more closeups.

He is best known for the TV series Madame’s Place (1982) and The Hollywood Squares, and also performed in scores of live shows.

Other puppets populated Flowers’ act, but none earned Madame’s notoriety. Among them were a Harlem harlot known as Jiffy, a cranky vaudeville vet named Macklehoney and Crazy Mary, a Bellevue mental hospital escapee.

Sometime in the mid-1980s, Flowers was diagnosed with HIV.  He continued to perform until he collapsed onstage during a show at Harrah’s casino in Las Vegas.  Eventually, he developed Kaposi’s sarcoma.  He made one last visit to his home town in Georgia and then checked into an AIDS treatment facility, the Hughes House hospice center in Los Angeles, where he remained until his death.

October 11, 1988
ACT UP Shuts Down FDA Headquarters in Rockville, MD

Over 1,000 members and supporters of the activist group ACT UP engage in a massive sit-in that shuts down the Rockville, MD offices of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA is targeted for refusing to release HIV/AIDS medications until tests prove them to be safe and effective.

Learn More.

Arguing that the FDA’s approval process is too slow and that patients dying of AIDS have little to lose by trying experimental medications, ACT UP brings hundreds of its members to the Washington, D.C. area to demonstrate.  They manage to stop business as usual for the day, with ACT UP graphics and banners covering the building’s facade.

“Our takeover of the FDA was unquestionably the most significant demonstration of the AIDS activist movement’s first two years,” organizer Douglas Crimp writes in The Atlantic.

In advance of the event, ACT UP groups across the country conduct teach-ins to provide members with knowledge of complicated issues related to HIV/AIDS treatment.

ACT UP then shares this information, along with their demands to the FDA, with the press in the days leading up to the demonstration.

“The FDA action was ‘sold’ in advance to the media almost like a Hollywood movie,” Crimp writes, “with a carefully prepared and presented press kit, hundreds of phone calls to members of the press, and activists’ appearances scheduled on television and radio talk shows around the country.”

On the day of the FDA demonstration, the media shows up in force to get the story and, due to the advance preparation by ACT UP, reporters are able to report it with a degree of accuracy and sympathy.

ACT UP groups from around the country engage all day in skirmishes with the Rockville police, who apparently are ordered to keep the number of arrests low to minimize media drama.

Protesters push at police lines outside the 20-story building, shouting, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” and “No more deaths!” as curious workers stare down from windows.

When protesters attempt to enter the building, they are forcibly restrained but not arrested.  Even so, police ultimately arrest 176 protestors, most on loitering charges

Eight days later, the FDA announces new regulations to speed up the process.  In addition, government agencies addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, particularly the FDA and NIH, began to listen to activist leaders and ask for their input.

October 18, 1988
U.S. Passes Abandoned Infants Assistance Act

The Abandoned Infants Assistance Act becomes law, addressing the issue of so-called “boarder babies.”  These infants, many of whom have been perinatally exposed to drugs or HIV, have been either been orphaned or left at hospitals indefinitely by their parents.

Learn More.

The AIA funds projects to support moving the children into foster care or other more traditional living arrangements.

October 25, 1988
San Francisco Ballet Dancer Peter Childers Dies

Dancer Peter Childers, who performed with the San Francisco Opera Ballet, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 32.

November 4, 1988
President Reagan Signs Comprehensive HOPE Act

President Ronald Reagan signs the Health Omnibus Programs Extension (HOPE) Act into law, authorizing the use of federal funds for AIDS prevention, education, and testing.

Learn More.

As the first comprehensive federal AIDS bill, it establishes the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the AIDS Clinical Trials Group.

November 7, 1988
NYC Pilots Controversial Needle-Exchange Program

The New York City Health Department begins a pilot needle-exchange program to address the growing number of HIV infections among people who inject drugs

Learn More.

The program is opposed by many of the city’s black and latinx leaders, who see it as an abandonment of IV-drug-using people of color.

The leaders demand a more comprehensive approach to the issue, proposing more resources for drug-prevention education, addiction treatment, and law enforcement.

November 28, 1988
Elizabeth Glaser Launches Pediatric AIDS Foundation

Elizabeth Glaser, an HIV-positive mother of two HIV-positive children, forms the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Learn More.

The Foundation funds cutting-edge research that leads to improved treatments for children living with HIV/AIDS and helps to establish protocols to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Elizabeth Glaser contracted HIV in a blood transfusion in 1981 while giving birth to her daughter, Ariel. She and her husband, Paul Glaser (who starred in the 1970s television series, Starsky & Hutch), later learned that Elizabeth had unknowingly passed the virus on to Ariel through breast milk and that their son, Jake, had contracted the virus in utero.

The Glasers discovered that the only HIV treatment drugs on the market were for adults; nothing had been developed for children.

After Ariel lost her life to AIDS in 1988, Elizabeth approached her friends Susie Zeegen and Susan DeLaurentis for help in creating the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Elizabeth would die of AIDS-related illness in 1994, and and to honor her legacy, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation would be renamed the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Under this name, the Foundation would become the leading global nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing pediatric HIV infection and eliminating pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention and treatment programs.

Elizabeth’s legacy would live on with the Foundation and in her son, Jake, who is a healthy adult and  pediatric AIDS advocate.

 

December 1, 1988
Initial World AIDS Day is Observed

December 1st is designated by the World Health Organization as “World AIDS Day.”

Supported by the United Nations, World AIDS Day is observed for the first time with the theme Join the Worldwide Effort.

Today, World AIDS Day continues to be observed.

In 2020, there was a reported 37.6 million people across the globe with HIV.  Of these, 35.9 million were adults and 1.7 million were children.

An estimated 1.5 million individuals worldwide would acquire HIV in 2020.

This marks a significant decline (30%) in new HIV infections since 2010, but there is still much work to do.

December 6, 1988
Actor Timothy Patrick Murphy Dies

Timothy Patrick Murphy, best known for this role on the prime-time soap opera Dallas during the 1982-83 season, dies of AIDS-related illness in Sherman Oaks, California at the age of 29.

Learn More.

On Dallas, Murphy played the part of “Mickey Trotter.”  He started his acting career as an adolescent in several television commercials and from there he went on to act in a mini-series called Centennial.

He soon would land more substantial work, including a part in the 1984 inspirational feature film Sam’s Son, the film biography of the life of actor Michael Landon.

Volunteer caregiver Brian Smith recalls visiting with Murphy in 1988 at the Sherman Oaks Medical Center in California.

Smith and Murphy had met in the summer of 1984, and they would talk about “the old times.”

“Sometimes, we would just sit quietly, holding hands, nothing needed to be said,” Smith recalled.  “I was blessed with good timing; Tim rarely had other visitors when I was there.  Even as his health deteriorated, he kept his winning smile and personality.”

On December 6, 1988, Smith would arrive at the hospital to visit his friend and be informed by “a teary-eyed nursing staff” that Murphy had died that day.

On September 11, 2001, Murphy’s younger brother, Patrick Sean Murphy, would be killed in the World Trade Center attacks.

December 16, 1988
Singer-Performer Sylvester Dies

Singer Sylvester dies of AIDS-related illness at age 41.  Born Sylvester James, Jr., the black performer is known internationally as “the Queen of Disco.”

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Famous for his song “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” Sylvester is the lead singer and co-creator of one of the all-time top LGBTQ anthems.

Born in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, Sylvester had been a member of the ’60s group the Disquotays — which was “somewhere between a street gang and a sorority house,” as one former member puts it.

He moved to San Francisco in 1970 at the age of 22 and joined the Cockettes, a “cross-dressing hippy performance art troupe,” and sang blues and jazz standards in his gospel-trained voice in solo segments of the show, writes Alexis Petrides in The Guardian.  In the early 70s, he made a bid for mainstream success fronting the Hot Band.

“But the U.S. wasn’t ready for an androgynous black man doing covers of Neil Young songs and A Whiter Shade of Pale,” Petrides writes.  “Band members were threatened with violence when they toured in southern states.”

Sylvester’s career was beginning to take hold in 1978, when “Mighty Real” is released on his second solo album and then later as a single.  When the song catches fire, he would travel to London to perform to packed clubs and be mobbed by fans.  Sylvester would release another 12 albums, many of them featuring top hits and nightclub mainstays.  An album containing Sylvester’s final studio recordings, titled Immortal, woud be posthumously released.

Devastated when his partner, Rick Cranmer, died of AIDS-related illness in September 1987, Sylvester suspected then that he was HIV-positive but declined to be tested.

As a persistent cough begins to develop into more serious symptoms, Sylvester is unable to tour but continues performing for fans in the Bay Area.  Eventually diagnosed with AIDS, he is hospitalized in May 1988 with pneumocystis pneumonia.

Later in the year, Sylvester attends the Castro’s 1988 Gay Freedom Parade in a wheelchair, joining those marching with the “People With AIDS” banner.  Passing crowds along Market Street, Sylvester could hear his name shouted out again and again.  He continues to give interviews to the media, seeking to raise awareness about the pandemic’s impact on the black community.

A month later, Sylvester would die in his home at the age of 41.  He had planned his own funeral down to the details of how he would be dressed (in a red kimono), how his body would be displayed (in an open coffin), and where the service would be held (in his church, the Love Center, with a sermon by the Reverend Walter Hawkins).

Sylvester’s legacy is such that in 2018, the prestigious University of Sussex in England would host an interdisciplinary academic conference on disco and Sylvester’s contribution to the genre.

December 20, 1988
TV News Anchor Max Robinson Dies

Max Robinson, the first African-American network news anchor in the U.S., and a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists, dies of AIDS-related illness at age 49.

December 27, 1988
Activist-Author Joseph Beam Dies

Gay rights activist and writer Joseph Beam dies of AIDS-related illness three days before his 34th birthday. He is best known for editing In the Life, the first collection of writings by gay black men on the impact of HIV/AIDS on their community.

Learn More.

Today, In the Life is widely regarded as a literary and cultural milestone in gay literature.

A native of Philadelphia, Beam attended Franklin College in Indiana, where he studied journalism and was an active member of the black student union and the Black Power movement.

After earning a his master’s degree in communications, Beam returned to Philadelphia in 1979, and explored literature on gay figures and institutions while working at Giovanni’s Room, an LGBT bookstore.  Discouraged by the lack of community for black gay men and lesbians, Beam began writing articles and short stories for gay publications.

In 1984, he received an award for outstanding achievement by a minority journalist from The Lesbian and Gay Press Association.  In 1985, he became the first editor of Black/Out, a journal produced by the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays.

Beam would continue to collect materials about being black and gay and find ways to increase their reach. In 1986, he produced the first collection written by black gay men, called In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology.

Beam dies from AIDS-related complications at the age of 33 while compiling the sequel, “Brother to Brother.”  His mother, Dorothy Beam, and poet Essex Hemphill would go on to complete the work and it is published in 1991.

January 2, 1989
California Legislature Enacts Laws to Criminalize HIV

Eight AIDS bills signed into law by Gov. George Deukmejian during 1988 take effect in California, including three that criminalize HIV and one that weakens rules around doctor-patient confidentiality.

Learn More.

The legislation, proposed by anti-gay Republican Sen. John Doolittle, include:

  • Penalties — SB 1007, which adds three years to prison sentences of those convicted of some sex crimes if they know they are HIV-positive when they commit the crime;
  • Prostitutes—SB 1007, which makes it a felony for a prostitute to continue working after knowing he or she has been exposed to the AIDS virus; and
  • Donors—SB 1002, which makes it a felony to donate blood, semen, breast milk or body organs to another person if the donor knows that he or she is infected with the AIDS virus.

Also going into effect is Democratic Sen. Gary K. Hart’s bill, SB 2847, which allows physicians to tell other medical personnel if a patient has AIDS so they can protect themselves.

January 3, 1989
APLA Adopts Austerity Program

Three months after the head of AIDS Project Los Angeles quits amid a cash shortage and staff revolt, the organization adopts an austerity program that appears to be working.

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Internal conflicts  continue as increasing numbers of people from locations countywide ask the organization for help.  At base of the conflict is its mission, which started as a compassionate care program funded by and for white gay men in the Hollywood area.  In recent years, APLA finds itself besieged with requests of help from county residents outside the area, including many people of color and heterosexuals.

“We can no longer be all things to all people,” says APLA’s interim Chief Executive Frank Paradise.

Torie Osborn, Executive Director of the LA Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center (now the Los Angeles LGBT Center), says that APLA’s early success led its leaders to believe they could take on anything.

“They set themselves apart,” Osborn tells the LA Times.  “Their attitude was ‘we’re the biggest and we’re the best.’  They grew isolated from the community from which they sprang.”

APLA was founded in 1982 and emerged as a pioneer in providing services to people with AIDS at a time when the government provided no support.  What began as four volunteers in a living room grew into an organization with a food bank, dental clinic, a 14-bed shelter (“Our House”), a transportation program, a hotline, an educational program and a system of case management.

With a budget of $8.2 million, APLA continues to operate as a volunteer-based organization with paid leadership.  The organization is still adjusting from recent moves to replace several of its key paid positions and search for a new executive director.

January 4, 1989
LA Center Resurrects HIV Testing Program

The LA Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center (now the Los Angeles LGBT Center) finds an insurance carrier willing to cover HIV testing and other AIDS-related services at its Edelman Health Center.

Learn More.

The clinic was forced to shut down in December 1988 when Boston-based Lexington Insurance Co. pulled its coverage.

January 10, 1989
LA County Prohibits Discrimination against People with HIV/AIDS

On a 3-2 vote, the LA County Board of Supervisors tentatively approves an ordinance prohibiting employers, landlords, schools and businesses in the county’s unincorporated areas from discrimination based on AIDS.

January 16, 1989
‘Ryan White Story’ Captivates TV Audiences

ABC’sThe Ryan White Story,” based on the true story of a 13-year-old hemophiliac from Indiana who contracts AIDS through a blood transfusion, airs nationwide to an audience of 15 million.

Learn More.

The TV drama depicts a young Ryan White (portrayed by Lukas Haas) fighting back after being barred from attending school due to his AIDS diagnosis.

With Judith Light starring as single mother Jeanne White, the show has a significant impact on how the public perceives issues around HIV/AIDS.

Ryan White is featured in a cameo as another hemophiliac with AIDS.

January 21, 1989
Protesters Hold Weeklong Vigil at LA County Medical Center

About 150 protesters hold a weeklong vigil in front of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, which hospitalizes an average of 50-60 persons with AIDS at any given time and has a reported caseload of 6,240 PWAs.

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Demontrators blast the facility’s inadequate care and treatment of PWAs, including misdiagnosis, miscalculated prescriptions, and insufficent capacity.

Demanding that the center create a 50-bed AIDS ward within six months, the activists stage a mock AIDS ward with cots and a soup kitchen, and then hold candlelight vigils at sunset.

In response, an aide to LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich tells the Los Angeles Times that the County does not have enough money for expanded AIDS services.

On the seventh day of the protest, LA County Supervisor Ed Edelman, who represents West Hollywood and the Westside’s Third District, would come to the event and demand that the County begin to provide “necessary care” for people with AIDS.

Calling the revelation that LA County has more than $8 million of unspent AIDS funding “intolerable,” Supervisor Edelman promises to meet with ACT UP/LA and county officials.

“We can’t afford to keep the status quo,” he says.

But when he’s jeered by some in the crowd, he says, “It’s not just up to me,” and abruptly leaves.

1989
Activist Michael Callen Defends Accusations with Proof

AIDS activist Michael Callen publishes in the People With AIDS Coalition Newsline a letter from his physician, Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, and his pathology report of his Kaposi’s sarcoma diagnosis.

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“There are easier ways to meet Liz Taylor then by pretending you have the most stigmatized disease of this century,” Callen would tell the Los Angeles Times in a month later.

In an attempt to counter accusations of “faking AIDS” because he appears healthy almost seven years after he was diagnosed with AIDS, Callen puts the rumors to rest by publishing the pathology report of  his Kaposi’s sarcoma diagnosis.

The LA Times article notes that Callen’s long-term survival isn’t unusual, citing a 1987 paper in the New England Journal of Medicine which finds that 20.7% of “non-IV-drug using gay men with AIDS” are still alive four years after diagnosis.

This is one of many indications surfacing that living long-term with AIDS is possible.

February 2, 1989
ACT UP Protests FDA Protocols for DHPG, Forcing Policy Reversal

ACT UP protests the FDA’s new protocols for the drug DHPG (Gancyclovir) that would deny many current DHPG users from continuing to access the drug.

Learn More.

The action results in the FDA granting access to DHPG under “compassionate use” while the agency reconsiders its methods.

The next day, the FDA would formally authorize pre-approval distribution of aerosolized pentamidine for the prevention of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), conceding to the demands of AIDS activist Michael Callen and Dr. Joseph Sonnabend.

February 7, 1989
Senate Hearings Examine Governmental Response to HIV/AIDS

Sen. Ted Kennedy, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, holds a series of five oversight hearings to examine how the federal government is combating AIDS.

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Education, care, and drug development for HIV/AIDS are key areas of focus of the hearings.

The FDA, CDC, HERSA and Samuel Thier, president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, all testify.

February 10, 1989
Dancer-Choreographer James Tyler Dies

Dancer, singer and choreographer James Tyler — who soloed with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company and the Arnie Zane Company — dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 48.  Tyler also co-founded the men’s dance company Mangrove, and worked with Blake Street Hawkeyes and Ruth Zaporah.

February 13, 1989
Op-ed by ACT UP Exposes LA County Healthcare Failures

The Los Angeles Times publishes “Fumbling on AIDS Causes Waste, Suffering,” an op-ed by ACT UP Los Angeles members Peter Cashman, John Fall, and Enric Morello about the devistating failures of the LA County healthcare system.

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“Who’s in charge here? Nobody, it seems,” they write. “Since the epidemic began nine years ago, the county’s only major organized response has been to open an outpatient clinic, which has proved grossly inadequate.”

People needing an initial visit must schedule it eight weeks in advance, the activists contend.

They continue: “People with temperatures of 103 or higher sit for hours on hard wooden benches waiting for help.  Some receive chemotherapy in crowded hallways, vomiting in bags.  Others in the same hallways, stripped to the waist, have IVs hooked to their arms.”

The activists express anger about LA County’s failure to put to use $8.6 million in AIDS funding, saying, “services go unprovided, facilities unrehabilitated, staff unrecruited and more patients continue to suffer and die needlessly.”

In the op-ed, Cashman, Fall, and Morello show compassion for the hard-working county healthcare staff, crediting them with being “caring” and doing their best amid “poor conditions.”

February 20, 1989
Doctor Skirts NIH Delay in PCP Treatment Protocol

When a CDC statistician tells AIDS activist Michael Callen that 30,534 Americans have died of AIDS-associated Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), Callen’s physician responds with information indicating that many of these deaths could have been prevented with existing (but “unapproved”) treatment.

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Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, Callen’s doctor, would later write about treatment to prevent PCP with “a drug that had been known to prevent this kind of pneumonia since 1977.”

The doctor would blame NIH Director Dr. Anthony Fauci for the delay in this treatment being available on a widespread basis, saying that Dr. Fauci “wanted data from a clinical trial of Bactrim for PCP prophylaxis in AIDS before he would recommend its use.”

Dr. Sonnabend says he refuses to wait for the NIH to collect data and reach its conclusions, revealing that he is already prescribing Bactrim (also known as Septra, Septrin or co-trimoxazole) and Dapsone to patients he routinely deems to be at risk for PCP, with positive results in his patients.

Years later, looking back at this time, Dr. Sonnabend would write:  “People were dying of PCP at a terrifying rate; I and some other physicians could not wait for these recommendations.”

February 26, 1989
Madonna & Sanda Bernhard Join Dancefloor at APLA Fundraiser

Wearing sunglasses, a black jacket, a white tee shirt adorned with a huge cross, and denim shorts, iconic performer Madonna dances with the crowd and lesbian friend Sandra Bernhard at AIDS Project LA’s Dance-A-Thon at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

February 28, 1989
Pediatric Cases Grow to 1,440, with Blacks and Hispanics at 76%

The CDC identifies 1,440 AIDS cases among children under 13 years old, of whom 800 have died. Nearly 76% of the pediatric AIDS cases are black and Hispanic.

February 28, 1989
AIDS Anthem ‘Love Don’t Need a Reason’ Released

AIDS activist and singer Michael Callen releases his album, “Purple Heart.”

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The album features the song “Love Don’t Need a Reason,” an AIDS anthem Callen co-writes with Marsha Malamet and Peter Allen.

“I feel compelled to get the message out: AIDS is not an excuse to give up on love,” Callen tells Gay LA Times health reporter Victor Zonana.

* * * *

Lyrics for “Love Don’t Need a Reason”:
If your heart always did
What a normal heart should do
If you always play a part
Instead of being who you really are
Then you might just miss
The one who’s standing there
So instead of passing by
Show him that you care
Instead asking why
Why me? And why you?
Why not we two?
‘Cause love don’t need a reason
Love don’t always rhyme
And love is all we have for now
What we don’t have is time
If we always believe
All the madness that we’re taught
Never questioning the rules
Then we’re living lies we bought so long ago
How are they to know?
It’s not who’s wrong or right
It’s just another way
And I don’t wanna fight
But know I’m gonna stay with you till the end
With you my friend
‘Cause love don’t need a reason
Love don’t always rhyme
And love is all we have for now
What we don’t have is time
I’ll hold you close
Time can’t tear us apart
Forever, I will stand by you
We’ve got to start with the beat of one heart
Together, we will see this through
‘Cause love don’t need a reason
Love’s never a crime
And love is all we have for now
What we don’t have
What we don’t have is time
1989
WHO Estimates Total AIDS Cases Worldwide at 400,000

Reported AIDS cases total 142,000 in 145 countries.  However, the World Health Organization estimates that there are as many as 400,000 cases worldwide.

March 9, 1989
Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe Dies

Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, known for his erotic, sometimes controversial works, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 42.

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In the mid-1970s, as the NYC music scene gave rise to New Wave, Mapplethorpe created austere black-and-white album covers for Patti Smith and the group Television.

He credited his close friend Smith with helping embolden the homosexuality of his early photographic images that dealt with sexual audacity — from sadomasochistic scenes with chains and black leather to an oversized image of male genitals resting atop a pedestal — and that were produced on a large scale.

Soon he would join Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine as a staff photographer, and draw attention for his flattering celebrity portraits.

Despite his diagnosis in 1986 with AIDS, he accelerates his creative efforts, broadens the scope of his photographic inquiry, and accepts increasingly challenging commissions. The Whitney Museum of American Art would mount Mapplethorpe’s  first major American museum retrospective in 1988, one year before his death.

The tragic news that Mapplethorpe is ill coincides with the zenith of his critical acclaim as a photographer.

“In my experience, even the most optimistic artists are unable to keep the pain and sadness of AIDS from occasionally surfacing in their art,” writes Paul Martineau, associate curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

“Mapplethorpe was no exception,” Martineau continues. “While studying his photographs, I noticed a perceptible shift in the emotional tone of his self-portraits occurred in 1986: the year he was diagnosed with AIDS. In 1988, while the disease wreaked havoc on his body, Mapplethorpe used the camera as a means of taking artistic control over what was happening to him.”

In February 1989, Mapplethorpe would speak openly to Vanity Fair contributor Dominick Dunne.

“I’m quite frustrated I’m not going to be around to enjoy [my success],”  Mapplethorpe tells Dunne.  “The money’s coming in, though. I’m making more money now than I’ve ever made before.”

In his feature on Mapplethorpe, Dunne writes about how the photographer’s health status had become the topic of speculation in January 1987, when New York aristocrat and art collector Sam Wagstaff died of AIDS-related illness.

“Mapplethorpe, the principal inheritor of Sam Wagstaff’s fortune, had once been Wagstaff’s lover and later, for years, his great and good friend,” Dunne writes.

Mapplethorpe tells Dunne that he has two nurses on twelve-hour shifts that cost him $1,000 a day and he has been on AZT for two years.  He expresses concern about friends who are facing the same illness with fewer financial resources, specifically his black friends.

“Most of the blacks don’t have insurance and therefore can’t afford AZT,” he says.  “They all died quickly, the blacks. If I go through my Black Book, half of them are dead.”

The year before his death, Mapplethorpe establishes the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to protect his work, to advance his creative vision, and to fund HIV/AIDS research.  In its early years, the Foundation created medical facilities and programs, including the Robert Mapplethorpe Laboratory for AIDS Research at Harvard Medical School in Boston, the Robert Mapplethorpe Residential Treatment Facility at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, and the Robert Mapplethorpe Center for HIV Research at St. Vincent’s Hospital, New York.

Serving as the first president on its board of trustees, he established mandates of furthering the recognition of photography as an art form having the same respect as painting and sculpture and supporting AIDS and HIV medical research.

In late winter 1989, Mapplethorpe is in Boston for a medical treatment when his condition worsens, according to Susan Arthur of the Robert Miller Gallery in New York City, which represents the artist.

He dies at New England Deaconess Hospital at the age of 42.  His body was cremated and his ashes are interred at St. John’s Cemetery, Queens in New York City, at his mother’s grave-site, etched “Maxey.”

In 2011, the Mapplethorpe Foundation would donate its archive to the Getty Research Institute and give a collection of artworks to the J. Paul Getty Museum in partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

1989
West Hollywood Settles HIV Discrimination Lawsuit

The City of West Hollywood settles an HIV/AIDS discrimination case brought by Paul Jasperson, who filed suit against the city and Jessica’s Nail Salon two months earlier, alleging HIV discrimination.

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Jaserson’s civil action against the salon, a test case for the West Hollywood’s new HIV discrimination ordinance, is on appeal, with support from Los Angeles, Santa Monica and the American Civil Liberties Union.

March 17, 1989
TV-Film Actor Merritt Butrick Dies

‘Star Trek’ film actor Merritt Butrick dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 29.

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A native of Gainesville, Florida who grew up in the San Fransisco area, Butrick portrayed Dr. David Marcus, son of James T. Kirk and Dr. Carol Marcus, in two movies: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

“I’m part of a legend,” said Butrick about his work on the Star Trek films.  “I gave what I had to give at the right time and place for my own personal gratification. I look at my resume at this point and it reminds me of how well I’ve done in the few years I’ve done it.”

Butrick had just been cast in ST II after starting work as a regular on the short-lived but critical and cult favorite 1982 “new wave” high school series Square Pegs, playing Johnny “Slash” Ulasewicz opposite an equally young Sarah Jessica Parker and Jamie Gertz.

At the time of his death, he had recently received critical praise on stage for his role as a male prostitute in the play Kingfish.

April 7, 1989
Bay Area Classical Singer Elwood Thornton Dies

Elwood Thornton, a baritone who performed with Oakland Symphony, San Jose Symphony, Midsummer Mozart Festival and other Bay Area organizations, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 45.

June 16, 1989
CDC Issues Treatment Guidelines for PCP Prevention

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues the first guidelines for preventing Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, known as PCP, an infection which often leads to the severe illness and death for people living with AIDS.

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The guidelines recommend a regimen of two compounds to prevent the onset of PCP: trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and pentamidine.  The CDC bases its recommendations on a study of 60 adults living with AIDS, which suggest that those who received treatment have fewer episodes of PCP and lived longer, compared with untreated patients.

Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, a combination of the antibiotics sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim, commonly causes side effects in patients that include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Pentamidine, given as an aerosol in a nebulizing device, commonly causes adverse effects including coughing, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, and chest pain or congestion.

The Public Health Service recommends physicians to start this treatment with:

  • any HIV-infected adult patient who has already had an episode of PCP, and
  • those whose CD4+ cell count is less than 200/mm3 (or less than 20% of total lymphocytes).

CD4+ cells would soon be referred to as “T-helper” or “T4 cells,” because one of their main goals is to send signals to other kinds of immune cells, which then destroy infectious particples.

Patients with CD4+ cell counts of less than 100/mm3 (or less than 10%), as well as patients with oral thrush or persistent fever, are at particularly high risk for PCP, the report states.

According to HIV.gov, a healthy T cell count should be between 500 and 1,600 T cells per cubic millimeter of blood (cells/mm3).

June 23, 1989
CDC Updates Guidelines on Transmission Prevention for Healthcare Workers

The Centers for Disease Control releases updated guidelines to help prevent the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis to healthcare and public safety workers.

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The guidelines are a response to recently enacted legislation, the “AIDS Amendments of 1988” in the HOPE Act of 1988, passed by Congress and signed by President Ronald Reagan on Nov. 4, 1988.

The legislation calls for the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the CDC, to “develop, issue, and disseminate guidelines to all health workers, public safety workers (including emergency response employees) … concerning methods to reduce the risk in the workplace of becoming infected with the etiologic agent for AIDS, and circumstances under which exposure to such etiologic agent may occur.”

The report states that, as of September 1988, a total of 3,182 (5.1%) of the 61,929 adults reported to be living with AIDS are employed in a healthcare setting.  Of the healthcare workers with AIDS, the means of HIV acquisition is “undetermined” for 5% of them (169 workers), suggesting that infection occurred in the workplace.

Of these 169 health-care workers with AIDS, 44 are interviewed directly or have other background information available about their cases.  The occupations of these 44 are:

  • nine nursing assistants
  • eight physicians, four of whom are surgeons
  • eight housekeeping or maintenance workers
  • six nurses
  • four clinical laboratory technicia)ns
  • two respiratory therapists
  • one dentist
  • one paramedic
  • one embalmer
  • four others who did not have contact with patients

Eighteen of these 44 health-care workers report parenteral (i.e., not delivered via the intestinal tract) and/or other non-needle-stick exposure to blood or other body fluids from patients in the 10 years preceding their diagnosis of AIDS.  None of the exposures involve a patient with AIDS or known HIV infection.

June 26, 1989
Chief Researcher Calls for Access to Experimental Treatment

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), endorses giving HIV-positive people who do not qualify for clinical trials access to experimental treatments.

Learn More.

In a front-page article by Gina Kolata in The New York Times, Dr. Fauci calls for a new system that would allow patients far greater access to experimental drugs.

This marks a major turnaround in government policy, which restricts access to experimental drugs with the reasoning that patients would have no reason to join a clinical trial if they could get a drugs by other means.

Since his early involvement in developing treatment for HIV/AIDS, Dr. Fauci had adhered to the National Institutes of Health policy that research need not focus on the immediate welfare of patients.

“It was clear to me that Fauci was inclined to enforce the paternalistic medical tradition in which he had trained: doctors and scientists were unquestioned authorities, and drug development had to follow a rigid process that included animal testing and rigorous clinical trials. Otherwise, the benefits and the risks of these drugs could not be adequately assessed,” writes Michael Specter in his profile of Dr. Fauci for The New Yorker in April 2020.  Specter covered the AIDS epidemic for the Washington Post in the 1980s.

AZT (azidothymidine) was the only approved drug available to treat HIV/AIDS, but it had harsh side effects.  When new clinical studies began, involving cocktails of AZT and similar compounds, tens of thousands of people asked to participate.  But volunteers were rejected if they used other experimental drugs.  And many more didn’t have the means to get to facilities and practitioners conducting the clinical trials.

But then the activist group ACT UP started transforming the frustration into anger, and the anger into well-publicized demonstrations against the research community.

“They started becoming amazingly iconoclastic and confrontational, and that scared the hell out of the scientists, who were fundamentally quite conservative,” Dr, Fauci tells Specter in The New Yorker profile. “When they were demonstrating on the NIH campus, disrupting Wall Street, disrupting St. Patrick’s Cathedral, instead of listening to them, scientists withdrew.”

However, Dr, Fauci decided to look beyond the activists’ furious rhetoric and style, and began to listen to what they had to say.

“And what they were saying made absolutely perfect sense,” Dr. Fauci says.

Faced with mounting evidence that his cautious approach made no sense, he reversed himself and promoted activist demands for more access to experimental treatments.

In the process, “Fauci transformed from a conventional bench scientist into a public-health activist who happened to work for the federal government,” writes Specter.

July 25, 1989
Studio 54 Creator Steve Rubell Dies

Steve Rubell, co-founder of the Studio 54 discotheque, dies at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York at the age of 45.

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Owning and operating the enormously popular Studio 54 on West 54th Street in Manhattan from 1977 until 1979, Rubell and his business partner Ian Schrager hosted celebrities, society figures and crowds of clubbers.

Rubell often worked the club’s front door, selectively admitting celebrities and spurning others queued outside.  In January 1980, Mr. Rubell and Schrager would be sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for tax evasion, but they would reduce their sentences by turning in several other club owners and be released from prison in January 1981.

They would sell Studio 54 a short time later and rebound with a new club, the Palladium, which would become just as popular.

In the film Studio 54 The Documentary, Rubell’s brother, Dr. Donald Rubell, says, ““I was the one who told him he had AIDS.”

Dr. Rubell recalls that his brother had “vague symptoms” of HIV infection, and so he administered the test.

“You have to remember at that time AIDS wasn’t a disease,” he says. “It was a condemnation. So he wouldn’t let me tell our parents.”

Held two days after Rubell’s death at the Riverside Chapel on Amsterdam Avenue and 76th Street, the private funeral would be attended by numerous Studio 54 regulars, including Bianca Jagger, Calvin Klein and Keith Haring.  His body is buried at Beth Moses Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.

August 13, 1989
NASCAR Driver Tim Richmond Dies

Race car driver Tim Richmond dies of AID-related illness at the age of 34.

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One of auto racing’s brightest stars, Richmond is the inspiration behind much of the film Days of Thunder, starring Tom Cruise.

The 1980 Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year, Richmond was involved in an Indy car crash where his car was sliced in two at Michigan International Speedway, and was persuaded to switch to stock cars.  By 1986, Richmond would win seven races in three months.

Shortly after his most victorious season, Richmond would suffer a near-fatal bout of pneumonia and receive a diagnosis of HIV-positive.  Still, Richmond would regain his health enough in 1987 to return to NASCAR for an eight-race run that brought him wins at Pocono and Riverside, California.

Unaware of his illness, other drivers accused Richmond of being a drug user and persuaded NASCAR to test him.  When drug tests were inconclusive, NASCAR asked to see Richmond’s medical records. Richmond refused and filed a defamation suit against NASCAR that was settled out of court when it was ruled that his medical records were relevant to the case.

In 1988, NASCAR would suspend Richmond for what the organization said was violation of its drug policy. Although NASCAR later lifted the ban, Richmond would never drive again.

According to the film Tim Richmond: To the Limit, Richmond spent his final days in seclusion.

After Richmond’s death, numerous women would claim that he infected them with the AIDS virus.

August 18, 1989
AIDS Cases in U.S. Reaches 100,000

CDC reports that the number of reported AIDS cases in the United States has reached 100,000.

September 19, 1989
National Commission on AIDS Convenes

The National Commission on AIDS meets for the first time at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

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At the meeting, witnesses testify on the problems facing AIDS patients and what the government is doing in response.

The meeting is facilitated by June Osborn, M.D., who would chair the commission from its inception through 1993.  Dr. Osborn, who serves on WHO’s Global Commission on AIDS, has extensive experience advising the CDC and the FDA on vaccines for diseases such as influenza, hepatitis, and polio.  Osborn would go onto write numerous articles and give many speeches on AIDS and HIV public healthcare policy.

The National Commission on AIDS consists of 15 members: five appointed by the Senate, five by the House, two by President George W. Bush, and the secretaries of Health and Human Services, Defense, and the Veterans Administration.

Perhaps the most recognizable member of the National Commission on AIDS, is former NBA star Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson.  However, Johnson would resign from the commission in September 1992, writing to President Bush:  “I cannot in good conscience continue to serve on a commission whose important work is so utterly ignored by your administration.”

Johnson’s resignation is preceded by another six months earlier of Harlon D. Dalton, a Yale Law School professor who is the only other African American appointed to the commission.  In March 1992, Dalton would complain about the lack of action from black politicians, saying, “Any high-visibility politician can point to the one time a year where [AIDS] is mentioned. But there haven’t been any votes there. Gay black men don’t exist, black men don’t vote and babies don’t vote.”

At its first meeting, Chair Osborn gives recognition to Rep. J. Roy Rowland, who she refers to as “the Father of the Commission.”  Rep. Rowland is the principal sponsor of the legislation that created the commission on Nov. 4, 1988.

Other members include:
  • Dr. David E. Rogers, head of the New York City Mayor’s Task Force on AIDS and New York State’s AIDS Advisory Council
  • Diane Ahrens, Minnesota local government official
  • Rev. K. Scott Allen, a Baptist minister, coordinator of the AIDS Interfaith Network in Dallas
  • Don C. Des Jarlais, a NY physician who advocates for needle-exchange programs
  • Eunice Diaz, community affairs director of White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles
  • Mary D. Fisher, appointed by Bush to replace Magic Johnson in October 1992
  • Donald S. Goldman, New Jersey attorney, author on ethical issues involved in AIDS treatment
  • Larry Kessler, executive director of AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts
  • Charles Konigsberg, Jr., director at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment
  • Belinda Mason, journalist who dies of AIDS-related illnesses in September 1991

The commission was established by a statute enacted November 4, 1988, with the aim of “promoting the development of a national consensus on policy concerning AIDS.”. It produced several reports over the next 4 years.

The commission approaches its work through numerous hearings, covering the following topics:

  • healthcare, treatment, and international aspects of the HIV epidemic;
  • Federal, State, and Local responsibilities;
  • the Southern California epidemic;
  • social and human issues;
  • Executive and Legislative branch issues;
  • current research and clinical trials;
  • HIV epidemic in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico;
  • African American communities;
  • Pediatric and Adolescent HIV;
  • Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual communities among Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders;
  • Women and HIV disease and civil rights;
  • religious communities response; and
  • risks of transmission in healthcare settings.
October 11, 1989
Actor Paul Shenar Dies

Paul Shenar, best remembered for his performance as the drug lord Alejandro Sosa in  Scarface, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 53.

Learn More.

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Shenar moved to New York City after graduating from the University of Wisconsin.  He debuts on Broadway in Tiny Alice as Brother Julian, and continues to work on the NYC stage for several years.

In 1965, Shenar would move to Philadelphia to help found the American Conservatory Theater, where he is not only a regular performer throughout his career, but a teacher and advisor as well.

From there, roles on television and the big screen would follow.  In 1975, Shenar portrays Orson Welles in the television movie The Night That Panicked America, receiving received some of the best reviews of his career.  He continues working steadily on television through the end of the decade, and in the early 1980s starts receiving feature film roles.

In 1983, Shenar delivers a memorable performance as the diabolical Colombian drug lord Alejandro Sosa in Brian De Palma’s Scarface.  Other notable roles are Dr. Lawrence in Luc Besson’s The Big Blue (1988), Joshua Adams in Deadly Force (1983), Paulo Rocca in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Raw Deal (1986), and Ben Gardner, the father of a troubled Kristy McNichol, in Alan J. Pakula’s Dream Lover (1986).

Shenar would die in West Hollywood.

November 10, 1989
Cult Movie Icon Cookie Mueller Dies

Cookie Mueller, a key member of film director John Waters’ Dreamlanders ensemble, dies from AIDS-related causes in New York City at age 40.

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Mueller would meet John Waters at the premiere of his 1969 film Mondo Trasho.  Cookie went on to join Waters’ Dreamlanders ensemble and would act in five movies for Waters.

Moving to New York City in 1976, she became a cocaine dealer and writer.  She wrote the health column “Ask Dr. Mueller” for the East Village Eye, was an art critic for Details magazine, and wrote the novella Fan Mail, Frank Letters, and Crank Calls, the memoir Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, and several collections of short prose.

Mueller became a muse to many of the photographers and directors of the NYC art/music/film scene.  She would have her portrait taken by Robert Mapplethorpe, and appear in Amos Poe’s Subway Riders, Edo Bertoglio’s Downtown ’81 and Michel Auder’s A Coupla White Faggots Sitting Around Talking.  She also would be featured prominently in her friend Nan Goldin’s iconic The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.

Goldin would later recall that she was with Mueller on Fire Island in New York when they first learned of AIDS in 1981, referred to as a “gay cancer” at the time. “Cookie just started reading this item out loud from The New York Times about this new illness… we all kind of laughed it off.”

By 1985, many of Golden’s close friends and acquaintances would be diagnosed with the virus, including Mueller.

Goldin would write in ASX:  “We were very obsessed with what caused it: There were all kinds of rumors, everything from amyl nitrate to bacon. I was in denial that people were going to die. I thought people could beat it. And then people started dying.”

In 1986, Goldin would photograph Mueller’s wedding to Vittorio Scarpati.  An artist who was an HIV-positive heroin addict, Scarpati would create a heartbreaking series of whimsical deathbed drawings of himself and Mueller.

Scarpati would die in 1988, and Goldin would photograph Mueller, by that time walking with a cane, beside her husband’s casket.  After Scarpati’s death, Mueller’s health would begin a steep decline.

“When I went to see Cookie in Provincetown, she had lost her voice,” recalls Goldin. “Her laughter and her verbal wit had been so much of her personality. The fact that she couldn’t talk, the fact that she couldn’t walk without a cane was so devastating that I was calling every doctor, screaming at the impotence I felt.”

Shortly before her dealth, Mueller would write in her final column for the East Village Eye:

“Fortunately I am not the first person to tell you that you will never die. You simply lose your body. You will be the same, except you won’t have to worry about rent or mortgages or fashionable clothes. You will be released from sexual obsessions. You will not have drug addictions. You will not need alcohol. You will not have to worry about cellulite or cigarettes or cancer or AIDS or venereal disease. You will be free.”

November 18, 1989
French Actor Rémi Laurent Dies

La Cage aux Folles actor Rémi Laurent dies of AIDS-related illness in Paris at the age of 32.

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Born and raised in Suresnes, Laurent starred in a number of French films in the late 1970s and 1980s, but he is best known for his role in the film La Cage aux Folles as Laurent, the son of Renato Baldi.

Laurent also had roles in Les Plouffe (1981) and Let’s Get Those English Girls (1976).

December 1, 1989
Choreographer & Activist Alvin Ailey Dies

Alvin Ailey, the African American choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Ailey School in New York City, dies of AIDS-related illness.

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Ailey’s early childhood would be spent in Texas during the Jim Crow era, a time and place that would inspire some of his most iconic choreography. He discovered dance after moving to Los Angeles but didn’t fully commit to the art form at first.

Then, in the mid-1950s, Ailey would join the Lester Horton Dancers, later becoming a choreographer and then director of the company.  In 1958, he decided to open his own dance company, establishing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City.

Ailey and a group of young, black modern dancers perform for the first time on March 30, 1958 at New York’s 92nd Street YM-YWHA.  In its first years, the Company would travel to booked performances on what Alvin Ailey called “the station wagon tours” in a vehicle driven by a longtime friend of the Company, Mickey Board.

In 1960, he would choreograph his classic masterpiece Revelations, which brings the Company international acclaim.

Over the next 30 years, Ailey would create ballets for many notable companies, including the American Ballet Theatre, Royal Danish Ballet, London Festival Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, and Paris Opera Ballet.

“As common practice at the time, Ailey maintained a closeted persona regarding his sexuality but would utilize his art as an outlet for it,” writes Smithsonian in the website for the National Museum of African American History & Culture.

“His choreographed ballets for AAADT exhibited imagery reminiscent with male and female homosexuality such as juxtaposing same-sex partnering with religious and hypermasculine archetypes.”

Although Ailey dated intermittently, he wouldn’t find long-term companionship while trying to conceal his sexuality from much of the world.  And when he dies amid the AIDS epidemic, his doctor reports the cause of his death as a rare blood disease.

Among the many posthumous accolades for Ailey, President Barack Obama would award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014, the highest civilian honor, in recognition of his contributions and commitments to civil rights and dance in America.

“Ailey’s work was groundbreaking in its exploration of the African American experience and the enrichment of the modern dance tradition, including his beloved American masterpiece Revelations,” the award description would state.

The Ailey company continues to perform at the New York City Center and tours cities around the world.  Ailey’s masterpiece, Revelations, is currently streaming on the dance company’s website.

1989
HRSA Funds States with $20M for HIV Care & Treatment

The U.S. grants $20 million for HIV care and treatment through the Home-Based and Community-Based Care State grant program, introducing HIV care and treatment to many states that have no programs.

Learn More.

In its supporting report, the Health Resources and Services Administration notes that only six states have Medicaid program waivers for the treatment and care of people with HIV/AIDS: California, Hawaii, New Mexico, New Jersey, Ohio and South Carolina.  The waiver services cover case management, personal care and adult day care in five of the six states.

States with these programs report that the AIDS-specific waiver enables them to establish a uniform system of services, a network of treatment options, and greater access to home and community-based care for people with AIDS, the report states.

Perhaps most importantly, the programs expand financial eligibility for those needing care and treatent.

The newly announced HRSA grant program provides funding so that all states can adopt and strengthen programs that target AIDS-specific services to those who need them.

1989
U.S. Launches Precursor to Ryan White CARE Act

A CDC/HRSA initiative provides $11 million to fund seven community health centers to provide HIV counseling and testing services. This is a precursor to what will be part of the Ryan White CARE Act.

January 19, 1990
Report of HIV Transmission via Dentistry Alarms Public

Tthe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the possible transmission of HIV to a patient through a dental procedure performed by an HIV-positive dentist in Florida, releasing a wave of panic across America.

Learn More.

The CDC report describes the first known case of clinical transmission of HIV:  19-year-old Kimberly Ann Bergalis underwent a molar extraction in December 1987; about two years later, she would test positive with a strain of HIV related to that of her dentist.

Kimberly’s dentist, Jeffrey Acer, would be villified in the press, even in the years following his death in September 1990.  He would be openly called a lunatic and a murderer, and accused of deliberately infecting his patients (which is in no way supported by facts).

Reported to the CDC by the Florida Department of Health and Rehailitative Services (HRS), the case describes Bergalis as having no identified risk factor for HIV infection and that, at some time following an extensive dental procedure with Dr. Acer, she became infected with an HIV strain related to the one that he had.

In an open letter to his patients, Dr. Acer says: “I am a gentle man, and I would never intentionally expose anyone to this disease. I have cared for people all my life, and to infect anyone with this disease would be contrary to everything I have stood for.”

The CDC suggests that during the dental procedures, “higher titers of virus may have been present in the dentist’s blood and he may have been more likely to transmit virus than earlier in the course of his HIV disease.”

Following the notification, two more of 591 former patients tested at county health clinics would test positive with a strain similar to Dr. Acer’s.  In addition, a third infected patient would be identified by the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS) and a fourth would contact the CDC directly to report that she was HIV-infected and a former patient of the dentist.

The Florida HRS would then reach out to 1,100 additional persons who potentially were patients of Dr. Acer to offer counseling and HIV-antibody testing.  Of them, 141 are tested, and all results are negative.  In addition, none of the dentist’s 14 employees test positive for HIV.

Staff members of the dental office tell the HRS that barrier precautions had been introduced into the practice by early 1987 and that all staff, including the dentist, wore latex gloves and surgical masks for patient-care activities. Staff report that they changed gloves and washed their hands between most patient contacts; occasionally, however, they washed gloves rather than changed them between patient contacts.  Additionally, staff report that by 1987 all surgical instruments were autoclaved.

According to medical records reviewed by the CDC, Dr. Acer was diagnosed with symptomatic HIV infection in late 1986 and AIDS in September 1987.  While he is in practice, he has no record of peripheral neuropathy, dementia, thrombocytopenia or other bleeding disorder, hand dermatitis, or injury.

Dr. Acer would close his practice in 1989 after his T-cell (CD4 lymphocyte) count drops under 200, and he would die on Sept. 30, 1990 at the Hospice of Palm Beach County at West Palm Beach with his parents at his side.

Kimberly Bergalis would spend her final years advocating for the mandatory testing of medical professionals.  She is described as “the one AIDS patient the AIDS community will not embrace, a frightening and hostile new public symbol of an epidemic the AIDS community thought it had tamed.”

Larry Gostin, professor of health law at Harvard University, tells The Washington Post in September 1991, “What Kimberly Bergalis symbolizes is … that AIDS is to be feared and that it can be contracted easily in health-care settings. She has created fear.”

Still, Bergalis is a sympathetic victim to many, and would go on to testify to Congress in a 20-second statement  that becomes the world’s headline:

“I’d like to say that AIDS is a terrible disease that you must take seriously. I did nothing wrong, yet I’m being made to suffer like this. My life has been taken away. Please enact legislation so that no other patient or health care provider will have to go through the hell that I have. Thank you.”

Soon, the Senate would pass a bill, sponsored by North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, that requires healthcare workers to reveal their HIV status or face imprisonment.

Bergalis would die of AIDS-related illness on Dec. 8, 1991 at the age of 23.

January 26, 1990
U.S. Updates Guidelines for Reducing Healthcare Worker Exposure

On January 26, the U.S. Public Health Service issues a statement on managing occupational exposure to HIV, including considerations regarding post-exposure use of the antiretroviral drug, AZT.

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The CDC issues a report reviewing the PHS recommendations for the management of occupational exposures that may place workers at risk of acquiring HIV infection, with a focus on those administering AZT treatment.

February 16, 1990
Artist Keith Haring Dies

Pop artist Keith Haring dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 31 at his LaGuardia Place apartment in Greenwich Village.

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Between 1980 and 1989, Haring achieved international recognition and participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions. His first solo exhibition in New York was held at the Westbeth Painters Space in 1981, according to the Keith Haring Foundation.

Throughout his career, Haring devoted much of his time to public works, which often carried social messages. He produced more than 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989, in dozens of cities around the world, many of which were created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers and orphanages.

Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. In 1989, he established the Keith Haring Foundation, its mandate being to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs, and to expand the audience for Haring’s work through exhibitions, publications and the licensing of his images.

Haring enlisted his imagery during the last years of his life to speak about his own illness and generate activism and awareness about AIDS.  By expressing universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war, using a primacy of line and directness of message, Haring was able to attract a wide audience and assure the accessibility and staying power of his imagery, which has become a universally recognized visual language of the 20th century.

Since his death, Haring has been the subject of several international retrospectives. The work of Keith Haring can be seen today in the exhibitions and collections of major museums around the world.

February 22, 1990
TV-Film Actor Stephen W. Burns Dies

Stephen W. Burns, known for his starring role as Jack Cleary in the 1983 television miniseries The Thorn Birds, dies of AIDS-related illness after contracting the HIV virus from untested blood received in  surgery.  He was 35.

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As soon as he graduated high school, Burns moved to New York City to study theater. He worked odd jobs during the day to pay for his rent and the acting classes he attended at night. Auditions eventually led to the lead role in the national touring production of the Broadway hit Grease.

Burns moved to Hollywood and within six months, he was offered the role of Li’l Abner in the 1978 TV special Li’l Abner in Dogpatch Today.  During his short career, Burns starred as Pete Stancheck in Walt Disney Productions’ Herbie Goes Bananas (1980) and appeared on several television shows, in a starring role in the ABC series 240-Robert and appearances ine Eight Is EnoughHeart of the City and Simon & Simon.

March 26, 1990
Iconic Fashion Designer Halston Dies

Halston, one of the most successful fashion entrepeneurs in history, dies of AIDS-related illness at Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco at the age of 57.

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Born Roy Frowick Halston in Des Moines, Iowa, Halston led a classic heartland childhood playing in soap box derby races, fishing, visiting farms, and the like.  He took an interest in sewing from his mother, and from an early age he showed a special interest in making hats.

His family moved in 1952 to Chicago, where Halston enrolled in a night course at the Chicago Art Institute and took a day job as a window dresser.  Halston continued to design hats and finally obtained his break when a small story on his fashionable creations appeared in the Chicago Daily News.

It was at this time that he would take his middle name Halston as his professional moniker. His hat sales took off, and in 1959, Halston left Chicago for New York City to work for the famed French milliner Lilly Daché.

Following that Halston accepted a position at the fashionable store Bergdorf Goodman, where he charmed his clients and made a grand name for himself.  In 1962 he designed the famous pill box hat worn by Jackie Kennedy at the President’s Inaugural, making the Halston name a household word.

Later that year he was bestowed the Coty’s Fashion Critics Award. In 1966, Halston designed his first ready-to-wear collection for Bergdorf Goodman and continued creating magic with his hat creations.   Women’s Wear Daily heralded him as “New York’s Top Milliner.”

He quickly became the toast of fashion society, including Liza Minnelli, Martha Graham, Lauren Bacall, and Elizabeth Taylor among his close circle of friends and clients.

Halston’s career sky-rocketed during the 1970’s and his designs set the standard for American designers. The Halston name became synonymous with classically cut, simple, spare and elegant designs, a phenomenally successful fragrance line Halston by Halston for women X12 and Z14 for men, and the fabric known as “Ultra suede.”  Throughout most of the seventies he epitomized the glamour, as well as the decadence of the era, becoming a central figure in the nightlife scene of New York’s Studio 54 disco.

By 1988, the designer had effectively retired and retreated from the limelight — and it wasn’t long after until he was diagnosed with HIV, according to AP News. After learning of his diagnosis, Halston moved to San Francisco to be cared for by his family, where he reportedly spent his last days touring the California coastline in his Rolls Royce car — which Halston asked his family to auction off after his death in order to donate the proceeds to AIDS research.

Despite his tragic death, there’s no doubt that Halston’s legacy still lives on today, with his dazzling life story becoming the focus of many films and biopics, including the Netflix miniseries, Halston.

April 8, 1990
Teen Activist Ryan White Dies

Ryan White dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 18.

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White was diagnosed with AIDS at the age of 13, following a blood transfusion in December 1984.  Living with his family in Kokomo, Indiana, doctors told his parents that he had six months to live but he proved to be more resiliant.

White became a national celebrity when he and his family fought AIDS-related discrimination following his school district’s refusal to let him return to school.

Along with his mother Jeanne White Ginder, Ryan rallied for his right to attend school and became the face of public education about his disease.

After winning a lengthy court case allowing him to return to his classes, Ryan was taunted and shunned by other students. Vandals broke the windows of the White’s home, and cashiers refused to touch his mother’s hands when making change at the supermarket.

Ryan is considered one of the most effective proponents of increasing awareness about HIV/AIDS, Ryan served as an eloquent spokesman about AIDS to his classmates, journalists and, through TV appearances, the American public.

“He valiantly fought against a battalion of bigots who saw AIDS as some kind of divine retribution against gay men and intravenous drug users — two of the largest groups stricken with AIDS during this time,” writes Dr. Howard Markel in PBS’s profile on Ryan Wyite.

He dies one month before his high school graduation and only months before Congress passes the legislation bearing his name — the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act.  His name would also be given to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the largest federal program designed specifically for people with HIV, serving over half of all those diagnosed.

 

May 2, 1990
Ivy League Professor John J. Winkler Dies

John J. Winkler, who taught classics at Yale and Stanford, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 46.  His 1989 book Auctor and Actor — which treats the Latin novel The Golden Ass as a detective story — was named best work of classical scholarship by the American Philological Association.

May 14, 1990
Actor Franklyn Seales Dies

Franklyn Seales, best known for playing the finicky business manager Dexter Stuffins on the sit-com Silver Spoons, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 37.

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Born on the Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent, Seales studied at John Houseman’s Acting Company in New York in the early 1970s.  The 1978 PBS drama, ″Trial of the Moke,″ proved to be Seales’ first big break.

Between 1982 and 1986, Seales played business manager Dexter Stuffins on the NBC-TV sitcom Silver Spoons, in which Houseman played a stoic grandfather.  His other television appearances included Hill Street Blues and Amen.

Among his motion picture credits are The Onion Field and Southern Comfort.  A versatile performer, Seales took on stage roles in productions that ranged from Shakespeare to the theater of the absurd.

A member of L.A. Classic Theatre Works, Seales performed in unconventional productions, such as Conversation at Night With a Despised Character, in which Los Angeles Times critic Lawrence Christon found him “one of America’s most compelling stage actors.”

Seales dies at his family’s home in New York City.

May 21, 1990
ACT UP Protests NIH to Demand More HIV Treatment Options

The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP)  protests at the National Institutes of Health, demanding more HIV treatments and the expansion of clinical trials to include more women and people of color.

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ACT UP protesters occupy the NIH campus, calling on scientists to develop more drugs for people with AIDS and the federal government to disseminate drugs equitably.

Promoted as “Storm the NIH,” the demonstration challenges the NIH to address the issue of growing numbers of women and people of color being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

Days later, activist G. Harold Mehlman would write in The Washington Post, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease, the saying goes. I’m here to tell you that ACT UP and lots of others will be squeaking to the high heavens until drugs to save the lives of our citizenry affected with the HIV disease are made available.”

Their efforts convince policy makers to change regulations, which results in a new regimen of drugs used to treat AIDS made available in 1996.

June 4, 1990
San Francisco Playwright Dan Turner Dies

Dan Turner, author of several plays at Theatre Rhinoceros, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 42.  Turner was one of the earliest diagnosed with AIDS in 1982 and became of the longest-living known people with AIDS by the time of his death.

June 20, 1990
Protestors Disrupt Int’l AIDS Conference in San Francisco

The 6th International AIDS Conference in San Francisco erupts in demonstrations, boycotts and dramatic disruptions in protest of U.S. immigration policies that bar people with HIV from entering the country.

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“For me, the single most moving episode of the week took place at the conference, when a huge number of the delegates stood up and turned their back on [US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary] Louis Sullivan as he was speaking,” journalist Tim Kingston recalls in an interview with 48 Hills.

For the first time in history, a major policy address got hijacked at an International AIDS Conference.

“Then, all at once, they marched out of the Moscone Center and joined the Pride parade,” Kingston says. “That was such a powerful statement.”

Many of the demonstrations during the conference are organized by ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), and bring attention to issues the conference fails to address, like the growing infection rate and the lack of treatment programs for women, people of color, and intravenous drug users.

Activists also protest laws against needle exchanges and the federal law forbidding HIV-positive people from entering the country.

For five days, ACT UP stopped business as usual, reported CBS.  Members clogged downtown San Francisco, marching to the Immigration and Naturalization building at 630 Sansome Street to protest the travel and immigration ban for HIV-positive people.  Activists crashed convention events and disrupted speakers.  About 100 protesters were arrested outside the Marscone Center on the first day of the conference.

Even the co-chairman of the conference, John Ziegler, wore a red armband in solidarity with activists and held a moment of silence in support of those who boycotted the conference because of the travel ban.

July 6, 1990
Bay Area Comedian Jim Samuels Dies

Jim Samuels, winner of the 1982 San Francisco Comedy Competition, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 41.

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Born in Oakland, Samuels was a popular comedian and sometime comedy teacher.  In the mid-1970, Samuels and then-comedy-partner Marty Cohen were regulars on Merv Griffin’s television show and several other variety programs.  In 1977, Samuels performed solo in a comedy skit on the TV show Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and would embark on a solo career officially in the early 1980s.

Dubbed San Francisco’s Dean of Comedy by his friends and competitors, Samuels was also part owner of the Holy City Zoo club, a small but influential comedy club located at 408 Clement Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in San Francisco.

Samuels died at Garden Sullivan Hospital in San Francisco.

July 7, 1990
Brazilian Rock Star Cazuza Dies

Brazilian rock legend and heartthrob Cazuza dies from AIDS-related illness at his parents’ Ipanema home at the age of 32.

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“Cazuza was forced to navigate his way through the trying social and medical realities of living with AIDS in Brazil during the 1980s,” according to Brazil: Five Centuries of Change by Thomas E. Skidmore.

Prior to the arrival of AIDS in Brazil in 1983, a sexual liberation had taken hold in the country’s major cities.  Because the first reported AIDS cases were that of gay men, it would be commonly referred to by Brazilians as a “gay cancer” or “gay plague,” and would cause widespread panic and fear.

“Cazuza would come to embody much of the conversation around (homo)sexuality and AIDS that would consume Brazil in the late 1980s,” Skidmore writes.  “Cazuza had relationships with both men and women. He made easy references to kissing girls and having girlfriends, but he neither ascribed to being gay per sé nor denied his interest in men… He would be able to defy the notion that AIDS was purely a gay man’s disease; though he slept with men, he was not necessarily identified, by himself or others, as gay.”

Mixing Bossa Nova music with 1960s British and American rock, he composed and recorded ″Cazuza,″ his first solo album in 1985, a record known for its biting, sarcastic tone and lyrics.

His song “Bete Balanço” 

Changing the ways in which HIV/AIDS were discussed and understood in Brazil, Cazuza demonstrated that people with AIDS could continue to be productive.  According to author and literary critic Marcelo Secron Bessa, Cazuza had become the “face” of AIDS in Brazil.

Cazuza dies in his sleep in his parents’ home in the beachfront neighborhood of Ipanema.

″Fortunately, he died without pain, sleeping,″ his father, Joao Araujo, director of one of the largest record companies in Brazil, would say on television.

Cazuza’s funeral at Sao Joao Batista Church in Rio’s Botofogo neighborhood would draw hundres of fans.

His mother Lucinha Araújo, would go on to create the ‘Sociedade Viva Cazuza’ [Viva Cazuza Society], to help people with AIDS.  A movie about Cazuza’s life would be released in 2004.

July 26, 1990
Congress Passes Americans with Disabilities Act

The U.S. Congress enacts the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Act prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including people living with HIV/AIDS.

August 12, 1990
Performer Ethyl Eichelberger Dies

Flamboyant actor Ethyl Eichelberger, who turned theatrical conventions upside down in their career as a performance artist, playwright and director, committs suicide.  Eichelberger was 45 years old.

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Eichelberger was diagnosed with AIDS and chose to end their life on their own terms.  Their body was discovered in their Staten Island home by friends Lola Pashalinski and Linda Chapman.

Eichelberger was equally at ease playing characters male or female, including Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, King Lear, Medusa and Klytemnestra.

They wrote more than 30 plays, many of them marked by such Eichelberger trademarks as fire-eating, cartwheels and impromptu accordion concerts.

 

Eichelberger was born to Amish parents on July 17, 1945, and was named James Roy.  After studying theater at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, they attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and worked with Charles Ludlam and the Ridiculous Theatrical Company.

It was here where they perfected their flair for comedy and their craftmanship as a wig maker. In 1975, they legally changed their first name to Ethyl.

As their reputation grew, they began making forays into mainstream theater, doubling as the courtesan and the abbess in the Flying Karamazov Brothers production of ”The Comedy of Errors” at Lincoln Center.

Eichelberger played themself in Oliver Stone’s movie, ”The Doors.”

August 18, 1990
U.S. Enacts Ryan White CARE Act with $220M in Funding

The U.S. Congress passes legislation providing $220.5 million in federal funds for HIV community-based care and treatment services.

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Titled the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, the legislation is named for the Indiana teen who became infected through treatment for his hemophilia and died in April 1990.

This creates the nation’s largest HIV-specific federal grant program, and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration is charged with managing the resources,

September 6, 1990
Rock Musician Tom Fogerty Dies

Tom Fogerty, member of Creedence Clearwater Revival and older brother of frontman John Fogerty, dies of AIDS-related illness in Scottsdale, Arizona at the age of 48.

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Born November 9, 1941 in Berkeley, California, Fogerty holds a significant place in rock history. As the rhythm guitarist for Creedence Clearwater Revival, he played on plenty of rock classics and had a solo career.

In the four years the band was together, they never had a #1 single in the U.S.  However, the band holds the record for the most number of No.2 chart hits without ever having had a No.1.  They also had a U.K. #1 hit with Bad Moon Rising.  

At some point in the 1980s, after moving to Scottsdale, Arizona, Fogerty underwent surgery for his back and an unscreened blood transfusion caused him to be infected with AIDS virus.  The cause of his death was initially reported as tuberculosis.

In the eulogy that John Fogerty made at his brother’s funeral, he said: “We wanted to grow up and be musicians.  I guess we achieved half of that, becoming rock ‘n roll stars. We didn’t necessarily grow up.”

When Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, Tom Fogerty’s widow brought his ashes in an urn.

October 4, 1990
Actor-Singer Ray Stephens Dies

Ray Stephens, best known for his starring role in the 1980s TV series The Great Space Coaster, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 35.

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Stephens became the lead singer of The Village People in 1985, recorded with the group for their album, Sex Over the Phone, and acted in the movie Village People: New York City.

He was an actor, known for in roles in The Runaways (1975) and Cat’s Eye (1985).  He is also heard singing the tune Cat’s Eye during the closing credits of the 1985 Stephen King movie.

Stephens reportedly became infected with the HIV virus ‘ death through the intravenous use of drugs.

October 26, 1990
FDA Adds AZT to Pediatric AIDS Treatment Options

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves use of zidovudine (AZT) for pediatric AIDS.

January 1, 1991
HOPWA: Federal Housing Assistance Program Launched

Congress enacts the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS Act of 1991, the first and only federal housing program solely dedicated to providing rental housing assistance for persons and their families living with HIV/AIDS.

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Approved as part of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act of 1990, HOPWA funds short-term and permanent housing, together with supportive services, for individuals living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

A report by the Congressional Research Service titled “Housing for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS,” describes HOPWA as a way to address the financial vulnerability and likelihood of homelessness associated with AIDS.

“Research has indicated that individuals living with HIV who live in stable housing have better health outcomes than those who are homeless or unstably housed, and that they spend fewer days in hospitals and emergency rooms,” the report states.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is charged with the administration of the funding, working with state and local community housing programs.

February 7, 1991
Bay Area Dancer Antonio Mendes Dies

Dancer and choreographer Antonio Mendes — who performed as principal dancer or guest artist with the Pacific Ballet, San Francisco Opera Ballet, Marin Civic Ballet and the National Ballet of Portugal — dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 41.

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Mendez was also Director of the Redwood Empire Ballet.

February 13, 1991
Ballet Dancer Burton Taylor Dies

Former leading dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, known for his speed, lightness and strong acting ability, Burton Taylor dies of AIDS-related illness in White Plains, New York at the age of 47.

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Taylor danced such roles as Captain Belaye in John Cranko’s Pineapple Poll and Arthur Saint-Leon in Robert Joffrey’s Pas des Deesses.  Taylor made his professional debut with the Eglevsky Ballet in 1959.  He joined the American Ballet Theater in 1962 and the Joffrey in 1969, dancing with the company through 1978.

Taylor also wwas a contributing editor of Dance magazine from 1979 to 1983, and wrote several dance articles for The New York Times.

Red Ribbon
June 2, 1991
Red Ribbon Makes Debut at Tony Awards

The red ribbon becomes a symbol of compassion for people living with AIDS and their caregivers.

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The Visual AIDS Artists Caucus  launches the Red Ribbon Project to create a visual symbol to demonstrate compassion for people living with AIDS and their caregivers. The red ribbon would become the international symbol of AIDS awareness.

New York artist Patrick O’Connel and other artists band together and started making art in response to AIDS, calling their collective Visual AIDS.  The artists, which hold public events and organized gallery shows to raise AIDS awareness, perhaps make their biggest impact with a simple little symbol: the AIDS awareness ribbon.

The idea started with Marc Happel, a costume designer invited to a meeting of the Visual AIDS artist caucus.

After several trips to upstate NY, where he had seen yellow ribbons tied around trees to honor servicement, Marc thought that Visual AIDS could do something similar, to acknowledge the war at home. Marc proposed that the group fold a ribbon and pin it on their lapels; the group decided that the ribbon ought to be red — the color of blood.

A local ribbon supplier donated spools of red grosgrain ribbon, and Visual AIDS began cutting, folding, and pinning. The Visual AIDS Artist Caucus members held what they called “ribbon bees” — like a quilting bee, where a bunch of people gathered to work.

The looped, inverted-V shape came after trying out numerous styles. Visual AIDS would hand-cut, fold, and pin thousands of ribbons, all just to hand out for free, attached to pamphlets.

On Sunday, June 2, Visual AIDS (working with Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS) would launch the Red Ribbon project at the 45th Annual Tony Awards.

The Tonys host, Jeremy Irons, wore the red ribbon, and so did many winners, presenters and guests (Daisey Eagan, Kevin Spacey, Penn and Teller, Tyne Daly, Mercedes Ruehl, Jerry Zaks, Joel Grey, Keith Carradine, and more).

The guests and presenters were asked not to speak directly about what the red ribbon meant. This resulted in media curiosity and the red ribbon became an overnight phenomenon.

June 22, 1991
Drag Performer Doris Fish / Philip Mills Dies

Performer-writer Philip Mills, who performed in drag in San Francisco under the name Doris Fish, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 38.

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Co-founder with Miss X and Tippi of the long-lived Sluts-a-Go-Go drag trio, Doris would perform songs and skits based on such cult favorites as The Valley of the Dolls.

Mills would co-write and (as Doris Fish) star in the cult film classic Vegas in Space (1991).

July 21, 1991
U.S. Pushes States to Restrict HIV+ Workers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends restrictions on the practice of HIV-positive healthcare workers, prompting Congress to enact a law requiring states to adopt the CDC restrictions.

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The CDC’s report ecommends that healthcare workers who are HIV-positive “should not perform exposure-prone procedures unless they have sought counsel from an expert review panel and been advised under what circumstances, if any, they may continue to perform these procedures.”

The CDC goes on to say that HIV-positive healthcare workers should notify prospective patients of the worker’s HIV status before they undertaking exposure-prone invasive procedures.

The report cites the case of Dr. David Acer, a dentist with AIDS who likely transmitted HIV to five of his 850 patients.

Although this was the only cluster of health care worker-to-patient transmissions of HIV in the U.S., the report concerning Dr. Acer immediately set off public debate on the effectiveness of existing safeguards of the public’s health, whether it was appropriate for HIV-positive health care workers to practice, and the public’s right to know the HIV status of their physicians.

1991
Minority Groups Launch HIV Treatment Education Program

The National Minority AIDS Council, in cooperation with the National Association of People With AIDS and the National AIDS Interfaith Network, holds the National Skills Building Conference, which will later become the United States Conference on AIDS.

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As the largest AIDS-related gathering in the country, the United States Conference on AIDS would draw thousands of attendees annually to share information, create new networks, and learn about the latest tools being used to address the challenges of HIV/AIDS.

Paul Kawata, Executive Director of NMAC, planned and implemented the first three conferences, considered to be the first national HIV treatment education programs in the U.S.  Annual conference participants include healthcare and service providers, advocates, people living with HIV/AIDS, and policymakers.

August 14, 1991
U.S. Creates Network of Clinical Trials, Expanding Treatment Options

Congress passes legislation to create a network of community-based clinical trials for HIV treatment.

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The Terry Beirn Community-Based Clinical Trials Program Act establishes a network of community clinical trials to complement the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ university-based research in order to provide increased access to experimental therapies.

The legislation is named for Terry Beirn, a program officer for amfAR who worked on the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources on AIDS legislation.

Known as a fierce AIDS activist, Beirn com­pil­ed quar­terly direc­to­ries of AIDS treat­ment for doc­tors and patients, fundraised for AmFAR and other research orga­ni­za­tions, and pushed leg­is­la­tion to fund clin­i­cal tri­als of exper­i­men­tal treat­ments and drugs.

Following his diag­nosis with AIDS in 1984, Beirn began his advocacy work on AIDS policy with Sen­. Ted Kennedy, and in 1986, Beirn joined the staff of the U.S. Sen­ate Com­mit­tee on Labor and Human Resources. Dur­ing his time there, Beirn gar­nered sup­port for the first com­pre­hen­sive piece of AIDS leg­is­la­tion, the HIV Organ Pol­icy Equity Act of 1988, which mod­i­fied rules regard­ing organ dona­tion between HIV-pos­i­tive indi­vid­u­als.  In 1990, Beirn would be instru­men­tal in the pas­sage of the Ryan White Care Act, for which he advo­cates directly with Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush.

Beirn dies of AIDS-related illness in 1991 at the age of 39.

August 16, 1991
U.S. Travel Ban Causes Int’l AIDS Conference to Move to Amsterdam

The 8th International AIDS Conference is originally scheduled to be held in Boston in 1992, but conference planners decide to move it to Amsterdam due to U.S. immigration restrictions on people living with HIV/AIDS.

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Harvard University, which is co-sponsoring the conference with the World Health Organization, announces that because of “continuing uncertainty” of the country’s policy toward HIV-positive individuals, it will not hold the 1992 conference in Boston.  Weeks later, Harvard would announce that the next conference would be held in Amsterdam.

The Boston site of the meeting is canceled, because of Bush Administration requirements that short-term visitors to the U.S. declare whether they are infected with the AIDS virus.  The policy bans travel to the U.S. by foreigners infected with the virus, unless they get a waiver.

Two months earlier, the 1991 International AIDS Conference in Florence closes with officials and participants marching to the U.S. Consultate to protest the American travel ban.

Almost 20 years later, the ban on HIV-positive immigrants and travelers to the U.S. would be lifted by an executive order by President Barack Obama.

August 25, 1991
San Francisco Drag Performer Tippi / Erik Mead Dies

Erik Mead, who performed in San Francisco venues under the drag name Tippi, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 39.

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With drag queens Miss X and Doris Fish, Tippi created the performance group Sluts-a-Go-Go in San Francisco.  They would create and perform drag shows for 10 years in Bay Area venues like Club 181.

Tippi would also perform in a featured role in the camp cult film Vegas in Space (1991), written by Philip Mills (who performed in drag as Doris Fish).  Favorites of the Castro district drag scene, Doris and Tippi produced a weekly cable news show in 1986 about the gay community.

Mead and Mills were roommates, and Mills would precede Mead in death by two months.

September 9, 1991
‘Well, bye-bye y’all’: Activist Belinda Mason Dies

Belinda Mason, the only AIDS-infected member of the National Commission on AIDS and a critic of President George H.W. Bush, dies of AIDS-related illness at age 33.

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Infected with the AIDS virus in 1987 from a blood transfusion during the birth of her second child, Mason is known for being the commission member most unafraid to speak out against the Bush administration for treating AIDS as a moral issue rather than as a public-health issue.

She is also known as a strong voice among people with AIDS who are angry that AZT is the only AIDS drug approved by the U.S.

Mason refused to distinguish between what sanctimonious politicians called the “innocent victims” of HIV and the rest of those living with the disease.  Yet she was aware of her priviledge, telling the press that Bush appointed her because, ″I was perfect. I was Southern, I was white, I was articulate and I got AIDS in a nice way.″

Before becoming ill, Mason worked as a reporter for the Appalachian News Express in Pikeville and the Hartford Times News, both Kentucky weeklies.  She also wrote short stories.

Mason, originally of Whitesburg, Ky., founded Kentuckiana People With AIDS, the first Kentucky-based group dedicated to fighting for a cure. She also was a member of the AIDS Action Council, a national AIDS lobbying group.

She spent untold hours with Kentuckians, listening, laughing, educating, telling stories and being a lifeline for rural HIVers, according to Kate Black in her profile on Mason in POZ magazine.

She was president of the National Association of People With AIDS when Bush appointed her in 1989 to the commission created by his predecessor, Ronald Reagan.

Right before Belinda Mason died at the age of 32, she told her family, “Well, bye-bye y’all.”

In 2016, the legislature of the State of Kentucky would honor Mason with a resolution to “reflect on the many accomplishments Belinda Mason made as a notable woman in Kentucky’s history.”

“For her uncommon courage in the face of death, for all that she accomplished as an AIDS
advocate during a time in this country when it was unpopular to do so, and for being a
daughter of this great Commonwealth,” the resolution states, “this honorable body posthumously honors her for her many contributions to human rights on Women’s History Month.”

November 7, 1991
Magic Johnson Announces HIV-Positive Status

Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson announces that he is HIV-positive.

November 24, 1991
Performer Freddie Mercury Dies

Freddie Mercury, the lead singer-songwriter for the rock band Queen, dies at the age of 45 of AIDS-related illness at his home in west London one day after he publicly announces he is HIV positive.

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Regarded by fans and critics alike as a consummate showman, Mercury was openly bisexual and enjoyed a colourful rock-star lifestyle.

Born Frederick Bulsara on the East African island of Zanzibar on September 5, 1946, Mercury studied piano in boarding school in India, then befriended numerous musicians at London’s Ealing College of Art.

Mercury would become famous for being one of the rock world’s most versatile and engaging performers and for his mock operatic masterpiece, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’  Released in 1975, the six-minute song was nearly never released due to its length and unusual style.

But Mercury insisted to his bandmates and music executives that it be included in their album “A Night at the Opera” and the song would go on to be a worldwide hit and timeless rock anthem.

When members of the music community began to become sick and die from AIDS, Mercury would express fear about becoming infected with HIV, recalls friend Peter Freestone, who believes the singer  first suspected he was ill as early as 1987.

For the final two years of his life, Mercury would keep his illness secret from everyone, except those he was closest to, according to his bandmates, and he would live in almost total seclusion.

Only Freddie’s close family and friends were invited to his funeral.

Ten years later, Mercury and Queen would be recognized for their contributions to American music history when they are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

December 2, 1991
Sacramento Activist Stan Hadden Dies

Stan Hadden, a senior administrative aide to California Senate President Pro Tempore David A. Roberti and one of the most influential voices on AIDS policies in Sacramento, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 35.

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As fierce fighter for HIV/AIDS policy for 10 years, Haddon is credited with shepharding the creation of the California AIDS Advisory Committee in 1983 and writing legislation supporting a coordinated approach to local HIV/AIDS programs and services in 1985.

Hadden was one of only a few in the 1980s Sacramento political scene who were open about their LGBT identity, journalist Karen Ocamb would later write in The Pride.  Scores of administrative and political aides to California legislators remained in the closet, fearful that open knowledge of their sexual identity would end their professional careers.  Elected officials and potential candidates who identify as LGBT also remained silenced by the very real fear of ruination.

In the final two weeks of his life, Hadden receives round-the-clock nursing care as part of a hospice program.  Sacramento AIDS Foundation spokeswoman Patty Blomberg notes that the AIDS care Hadden received might not have existed if it were not for his influence and persistence.

Blomberg tells the Sacramento Bee that Hadden had slipped into a coma early that morning and then died at about noon at his farmhouse along the Sacramento River, surrounded by friends and family who had flown in from as far away as Michigan.

Hadden’s funeral would bring in friends and colleagues from around the state, including Ocamb and John Duran, then President of the Board of LIFE AIDS Lobby who would become Mayor of the City of West Hollywood.

“In a gesture unheard of for the suits of Sacramento, a huge rainbow flag was unfurled and solemnly marched down the street to the Capitol,” Ocamb recalled.

“Stan’s memory will go on, because he made a contribution to this state that many of us can only dream of making,” Senate President Pro Tem Roberti says during Hadden’s memorial service at St. Francis Church in midtown Sacramento.

Tina Chow (2)
January 24, 1992
Jewelry Designer Tina Chow Dies

Jewelry designer and activist Tina Chow dies of AIDS-related illness in Pacific Palisades, California at the age of 41.

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Born Bettina Louise Lutz, the supermodel, jewellery designer and fashion collector, was married to restaurateur Michael Chow in 1972 and became known professionally as Tina Chow.  In the 1970s, she was featured prominently in advertising campaigns for the Japanese cosmetic line Shiseido.

“Chow broke the mold of being a model with an androgynous look and a distinctly chic fashion sensibility that gave her notoriety,” writes artist Maxwell N. Burnstein in his tribute to her on the Council of Fashion Designers of America website.

Karl Lagerfeld credits Chow as the inventor of minimal chic, and Kate Moss considers her to be her style icon.  Recognized as having a profound influence on the styles of her era, Chow was initiated into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1985.

The same year, Helmut Newton took a portrait photograph of Chow and her husband in which their power dynamics are made evident.

“In the photograph, the two are separated, physically, by the counter of a bar,” writes Cynthia Cruz in The Critical Flame.  “He standing in dark glasses, holding a glass in his hand, staring at her while she is on the other side, in a long white dress, her eyes made dark with make-up, tied to the bar with rope.”

In the mid-1980s, Chow began to find the non-stop party lifestyle tiresome, and was encouraged by artist Andy Warhol to turn her attention to jewellery design. She incorporated stones and crystals associated with healing properties into bamboo and used traditional Japanese basket weaving techniques to follow the shapes of uncut stones.

“Chow’s pieces of jewelry are unusual, neither delicate or what one might usually consider ‘beautiful,'” writes Cynthia Cruz in her tribute to Chow.  “Instead, the pieces are solid, anchored.”

The piece for which Chow is best known is her Kyoto Bracelet, constructed of black bamboo with seven rose quartz pebbles inside.

Around this time, Chow also deepened her commitment to AIDS charity work.  In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, she explained, “I lost several friends to AIDS, and I felt my life slipping away while I continued to party.”

She also separated from her husband and embarked on a series of affairs, first with a film star who introduced her to Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama, and later with the French aristocrat Kim D’Estainvillle.

In 1989, Chow and her husband divorced.  Five months later, she learned that she was HIV positive.  Chow refused to take any of the medicine her Western doctors recommended.  Instead, she opted for a holistic approach, attempting to heal herself with crystals, macrobiotics, teas, and similar somatic modes of healing.

After Chow had made her illness public, she continued to work with AIDS organizations, including Project Angel Food.  She ultimately lost her life from complications from AIDS at her home in Pacific Palisades on January 24, 1992.

March 23, 1992
Lavender Hill Mob Martin Robinson Dies

Martin Robinson, a long-time organizer for gay-rights causes who was known for his provocative protests, died of AIDS-related illness at his Brooklyn home at the age of 49.

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Robinson was present at the 1969 police raid of the Stonewall, a Greenwich Village bar patronized by members of the LGBTQ community.

Such raids were common, but for the first time, the customers resisted and fought back.  Shortly afterward, 2,000 attended a rally in Sheridan Square, where Robinson was a keynote speaker.

An early member of the Gay Activists Alliance, many activists considered Robinson a visionary during the early years of AIDS activism.

One of his mantras was, if it’s not medicine, it’s murder,” activist Bill Bahlman would tell the Act Up Oral History Project in 2010. “He taught me things like it doesn’t matter whether you’re Rock Hudson or a person living on the street, homeless.  If you don’t have effective treatments for HIV, you’re going to die.”

In the early 1980s, Robinson headed GLAAD’s Swift and Terrible Retribution Committee, planning demonstrations and developing political “zaps,” chaotic and theatrical interventions intended to attract the attention of the press.

When the Centers for Disease Control planned its 1987 conference in Atlanta with a focus on mandatory testing for HIV, Robinson led activists from his group, the Lavender Hill Mob, into the ballroom of the Marriott Marquis, where a pre-conference cocktail party was being held for attendees.

Activists passed out fliers to the startled participants with the message, “What does CDC stand for? Center for Detention Camps!”

During the three days of the conference, Robinson and the Lavender Hill Mob appeared in various meeting locations with leaflets and noisy chants: “Test drugs, not people!” and “Drugs into bodies now!”

Robinson was also a founder of ACT UP, which was started in New York in the wake of the Lavender Hill Mob’s success. Modeled on the tactics of the Lavender Hill Mob, ACT UP’s approach was bold and headline-grabbing — and effective.

Perhaps one of Robinson’s most important “zaps” was the one at the National Institutes of Health in May 1990, around the time that North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms was trying to block a $600 million AIDS relief bill.

ACT UP members from all over the country descended on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, setting off smoke bombs and yelling that NIH policies were killing them.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the NIH’s drive to end AIDS, invited several ACT UP leaders inside and listened to them. What he learned brought about the Accelerated Approval process that helped get “drugs into bodies now,” as the ACT UP slogan demanded.

The Marty Robinson Collection of papers and records are currently stored at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York.

 

May 22, 1992
Rapid HIV Blood Test Gives Results in 10 Minutes

FDA licenses a rapid HIV diagnostic test kit which gives results from a blood test in 10 minutes.

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The FDA licenses Murex SUDS HIV-1, a 10-minute diagnostic test kit which can be used by health professionals to detect the presence of HIV Type 1.

As the only rapid enzyme immunoassay (EIA) approved for diagnostic use in the U.S., the test is manually performed by mixing a small amount of the patient’s blood with an antibody agent to which only HIV-1 antibodies will attach.

This test is considered by researchers to be part of the third wave of HIV tests, following the ELISA and Western Blot tests of the mid-1980s.  A 1993 clinical trial analyzing almost 2,000 test samples would show the SUDS HIV-1 test to give false-positive results at a relatively high rate.

 

August 24, 1992
Spanish Illustrator Juan Suárez Botas Dies

Juan Suárez Botas, illustrator, graphic designer and film maker, dies of AIDS-related illness at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City at the age of 34.

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Botas’ illustrations appeared on the covers of TimeFortuneU.S. News & World Report and other magazines. His drawings appeared in The New York TimesVogue and other publications.

Botas moved to the U.S. from Spain in 1977.  At the time of his death, he was directing a documentary about his AIDS treatment group at the time of his death, which was released as One Foot on a Banana Peel, the Other Foot in the Grave: Secrets from the Dolly Madison Room.

A friend of film director Jonathan Demme, Botas was a major influence on Demme’s decision to make the film Philadelphia.

December 1, 1992
CDC Extends HIV Education Programming to Business Community

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiates a long-term, primary prevention program for HIV education directed at business owners and the labor community.

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The Business Responds to AIDS program is designed to help large and small businesses meet the challenges of HIV/AIDS in the workplace and the community.

In an interactive teleconference originating at its Atlanta headquarters, the CDC introduces business leaders to the BRTA program and releases resources to assist them with initiating their own HIV-education programs in the workplace.

Participants in the teleconference include the American Red Cross, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the New England Corporate Consortium on AIDS, and the business and labor communities from several sites throughout the U.S.

The CDC encourages businesses to develop written HIV policies and provide employee education about preventing HIV transmission.

In three years, the CDC would follow up BRTA with the Labor Responds to AIDS program in 1995.

December 13, 1992
Florida Teenager Ricky Ray Dies

Ricky Ray, the eldest of three hemophiliac brothers barred from school in Florida because they carried the AIDS virus, dies at the age of 15 at his home in Orlando.

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Ricky and and his two younger brothers, Robert and Randy, sparked a national conversation on AIDS in 1987, after their court battle to attend school led to boycotts by local residents and the torching of their home in Arcadia, Florida.

Last month, President-elect Clinton had telephoned the boy to offer his support.  Bedridden with AIDS, Rick let it be known that he wanted to talk to then-President-elect Bill Clinton about the deadly disease.

When Ricky was handed the telephone in his room at All Children’s Hospital, Clinton was on the other end.

“Ricky told him, ‘I hope you do everything you said you would to make a difference,'” said Ricky’s mother, Louise. “He said that Clinton told him that he was going to do everything in his power to make things better.”

graph 1992 deaths (2)
1992
#1 Cause of Death for Young Adult Men is AIDS

With the death rate from HIV infection steadily and dramatically increasing over the past 10 years, AIDS becomes the leading cause of death in the U.S. for men aged 25-44.

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A report from the Centers for Disease Control announces that HIV infection emerged in the 1980s as a leading cause of death in the U.S., and now HIV infection is the number one cause of death among men aged 25-44 years.

The CDC bases this assessment on data obtained from death certificates filed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Statisticians suspect the magnitude is greater than indicated in the report.

The report also notes that HIV infection is more severely advancing to death for blacks and hispanics than other racial/ethnic groups.

“These differences probably reflect social, economic, behavioral, or other factors rather than race/ethnicity directly,” the report states.  “The social and cultural context of HIV infection must be addressed through prevention efforts designed to meet the needs of specific communities.”

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January 6, 1993
Ballet Dancer Rudolf Nureyev Dies

World-renowned ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 54.

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Nureyev is born in 1938 aboard the Trans-Siberian express, near Lake Baikal.  He spends his childhood and youth in Ufa, capital of the Soviet Republic of Bashkir. His parents are Tartar Muslims.

In 1961, Rudolf Nureyev dances with the Kirov Ballet, which is on tour in Paris.  His first appearance on stage is at the Palais Garnier, in Act III from La Bayadère.  Days later, he demands political asylum at Le Bourget airport and refuses to board an airplane to the USSR. He joins the Ballets du Marquis de Cuevas the next day.

He becomes internationally famous as a flamboyant performer and a charismatic celebrity who revived the prominence of male ballet roles and significantly widened the audience for ballet.

In 1973 he codirects (with Robert Helpmann) and stars in a filmed version of Don Quixote, and he has acting roles in the films Valentino (1977) and Exposed (1983).

From 1983 to 1989, Nureyev would be artistic director of the Paris Opéra Ballet, the oldest ballet company in the world.  He would be diagnosed with HIV in 1984, his second year at the POB.

He continues to choreograph for the American Ballet Theatre and the Paris Opéra Ballet even as his health declines from AIDS-related complications.

Nureyev enters the hospital Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours in Levallois-Perret on November 20, 1992 and remained there until his death.  His funeral was held in the marble foyer of the Paris Garnier Opera House.

January 20, 1993
Club Pianist Frank Banks Dies

Frank Banks, beloved entertainer at the Mint piano bar on Market Street in San Francisco, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 46.

January 23, 1993
President Clinton Establishes Office of National AIDS Policy

As one of his first acts in the White House,  President Bill Clinton establishes the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.

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The Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) is designed to oversee U.S. efforts to implement the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

ONAP’s scope would grow over the next twenty years to include coordinating national and global efforts with the National Security Council and the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator.  The group would work closely with international bodies to ensure that the U.S. response to the global pandemic is fully integrated with other prevention, care, and treatment efforts around the world.

ONAP would be featured in the press again in January 2017, when under the new Trump administration, the office’s website would become inaccessible.  It is then reported that the office closed with the departure of the previous director, Obama-appointee Amy Lansky, with no clear plans if or when President Trump would reopen it.

When President Trump fails to appoint a new ONAP director by June 2017, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS file letters of resignation, citing that above all things the Trump administration “simply does not care” about the HIV/AIDS situation in the U.S.

Then in late December 2017, Trump would fire the remaining members of the council with a form letter sent via FedEx.

In June 2021, President Joe Biden would restore ONAP with the appointment of Harold Phillips, a Black man living with HIV, as Director.  News of Phillips’s appointment would arrive June 5, the 40th anniversary of the first reports of AIDS.

February 6, 1993
Tennis Star Arthur Ashe Dies

Tennis star Arthur Ashe dies of complications from AIDS at the age of 49.  Ashe’s body is laid in state at the governor’s mansion in Richmond, Virginia, where thousands of people line up to pay their respects to the ground-breaking athlete and social activist.

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Ashe is celebrated for being the first (and only) African American male tennis player to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon singles titles.

Attending UCLA on a full scholarship in 1965, Ashe wins the individual NCAA tennis championship and helps UCLA win the team championship.  He then serves in the U.S. Army for two years.

Ashe begins his career in earnest in 1968, winning the U.S. Open while still an amateur player.  He becomes the first black man to win a Grand Slam event.

He becomes a trailblazer in the world of tennis, winning multiple Grand Slam titles in his career. He also becomes known for his commitment to charitable causes and humanitarian work. He establishes tennis programs for inner-city children and campaigns against apartheid in South Africa.  He retires from tennis in 1980 after suffering a heart attack.

In 1988, Ashe begins experiencing paralysis in his right arm. After undergoing exploratory brain surgery and a battery of tests, doctors determine he has toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that is commonly found in people infected with HIV. Another set of tests reveals he is HIV positive.

Doctors believe Arthur Ashe contracted HIV from blood transfusions during his second heart surgery. Despite that, Ashe and his wife try to keep his HIV diagnosis private. After a friend that worked at USA Today calls Ashe about his condition, he decides to go public.

Two months before his death, he founds the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, to help address issues of inadequate health care delivery to urban minority populations.  He also dedicates time in his last few months to writing “Days of Grace,” his memoir that he finishes only days before his death.

Arthur Ashe dies of AIDS-related pneumonia in New York at the age of 49.  His body was laid in state at the Governor’s Mansion in his hometown of Richmond, VA.  More than 5,000 people line up to walk past the casket.

His funeral is attended by nearly 6,000 people including NYC Mayor David Dinkins, Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, and Rainbow Coalition chairman Jesse Jackson. Andrew Young, the former U.N. ambassador and Atlanta mayor who had performed Arthur’s marriage ceremony, delivers the eulogy.

On what would have been Arthur’s 53rd birthday, July 10, 1996, a statue of him was dedicated on Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Before this, Monument Avenue had commemorated Confederate war heroes; in fact, as a child Arthur would not even have been able to visit Monument Avenue because of the color of his skin.

Arthur is depicted carrying books in one hand and a tennis racket in the other, symbolizing his love of knowledge and tennis.

In 1997, the USTA announced that the new center stadium at the USTA National Tennis Center would be named Arthur Ashe Stadium, commemorating the life of the first U.S. Open men’s champion in the place where all future U.S. Open champions will be determined.

March 6, 1993
West Hollywood Pharmacy Owner Loyd Tittle Dies

Loyd Tittle, owner of Capitol Drugs in West Hollywood, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 42.

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Tittle was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988.  For four years, his sister Ruth Tittle traveled from Lexington, Kentucky to Los Angeles to help care for Loyd.  In 1992, Ruth moved to West Hollywood to care for her brother full-time and to help him with running his West Hollywood businesses.

Loyd suffered from cytomegalovirus (CMV) colitis, and as a result he couldn’t absorb nutrition.  As with many people with AIDS, this condition led to loss of body mass, commonly known as “wasting.”  Loyd was in the hospital 11 times in the last year of his life.

A plaque remembering Loyd Tittle is on the sidewalk in front of Capitol Drugs, part of the AIDS Memorial Walk.  His sister went on to become one of the founding members of the Foundation for The AIDS Monument.  She also served on the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board and worked on the Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing project.

1993
AIDSWatch: Advocates Organize to Lobby for Congressional Action

The National Association of People With AIDS convenes the first “AIDSWatch,” a national advocacy effort to lobby Congress for increased funding.

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AIDSWatch would become an annual event, serving as a vehicle by which people living with and affected by HIV could speak their truth in the halls of power in Washington, D.C., and demand that Congress protect their rights and honor their struggle.

Even after the National Association of People With AIDS ceases operations in 2013, AIDSWatch advocacy day would continue to be held annually under the auspices of AIDS United.

The small group of HIV advocates who met in 1993 would transform into the country’s largest annual constituent-based national HIV advocacy event.  AIDSWatch 2020 becomes the largest to date, with more than 2,500 advocates joining over multiple platforms.

female condom
May 7, 1993
FDA Approves Female Condom

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the female condom, giving women a new way to protect themselves from sexually-transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy..

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The condom, which is ma nufactured by Chartex International, becomes available over the counter at most major drug stores in Southern California, under the name Reality Female Condom.

Although the female condom gives women more options for birth control, it is slow to catch on with the general public.

Donna Diaz, a representative of Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, tells California State University’s campus newspaper that the female condom is not popular because it is “more awkward to use” than the male condom.

“It’s not as effective as the male condom and it’s very inconvenient to use,” she says.

However, Holly Sherman, spokeswoman for The Female Health Company — which markets and distributes the condom — disagrees, saying the female condom provides protection from disease on genital areas because there is “less skin touching skin” and the chance of transmitting a disease is less likely.

The female condom has a sheath material and a flexible inner ring, and is inserted similar to a diaphragm.  A woman squeezes the ring and inserts it as far as possible into the vagina. The ring then covers the cervix. Its sheath material holds the condom in place. The outer ring lines the vaginal wall and helps cover the lips of the vagina.  The sexual partner must stay within the confines of the female condom or it’s ineffective.

June 6, 1993
‘Angels in America’ Wins Four Tony Awards & Pulitzer

Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, the first installment of Tony Kushner’s two-play epic that uses AIDS as a metaphor for a national spiritual decline in the 1980s, wins four Tony Awards, including best play, best director of a play, and best leading actor and featured actor in a play.

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Angels in America, Tony Kushner’s play about AIDS, wins the Tony Award for Best Play and the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Also winning Tonys for Angeles in America are Ron Leibman and Stephen Spinella (acting), and George C. Wolfe (directing).

June 10, 1993
U.S. Expands Scope for Women/Minorities as Research Subjects

Congress enacts the NIH Revitalization Act and directs the National Institutes of Health to expand involvement of women and minorities in all research.

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The Act gives the Office of AIDS Research primary oversight of all NIH AIDS research and requires the NIH and other research agencies to increase the role of women and minorities as research subjects.

The statute calls for outreach to women and members of minority groups for recruitment as subjects in clinical research projects.  For clinical trials in which women or members of minority groups are included as subjects, trials must be designed and executed in a manner that allows for researchers to determine whether the variables being studied in the trial affect women or members of minority groups differently than other subjects in the trial.

June 10, 1993
U.S. Immigration Ban Codified into Federal Law

Slipped into the NIH Revitalization Act is an amendment that codifies the U.S. HIV immigration ban into law, which President Bill Clinton signs.

June 14, 1993
LA Shanti Founder Daniel P. Warner Dies

Daniel P. Warner, co-founder and former executive director of the Los Angeles Shanti Foundation, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 38.

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As LA Shanti’s first Executive Director, Warner laid the groundwork for a successful volunteer-run, community-based organization that provided clients with the opportunity and resources to die with dignity.  Under Warner’s leadership, LA Shanti would become a leader in quality service programs using the Shanti model of compassionate presence.

Warner also served as Program Director of the AIDS education group West Hollywood CARES, and organized the National Candlelight March in 1983 and in 1990.

As Warner stepped down from LA Shanti’s leadership team in 1991 and prepared to move to San Francisco, he received Shanti’s first Commitment to Service Award. The same year, he received LA County’s Community Service Award and a certificate of recognition from the state Senate.

Warner served as consultant to two television movies dealing with the subject of AIDS –“Our Sons” on ABC and the Emmy Award-winning “An Early Frost” on NBC.

Warner would die on his 38th birthday with his companion at his side.

1993
U.S. Launches Two Research Studies Focused on Women

The Women’s Interagency HIV Study and HIV Epidemiology Study begin; both are major U.S. federally funded research studies on women and HIV/AIDS.

 

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The Women’s Interagency HIV Study establishes a multi-center, prospective, observational cohort study of women living in the U.S. who are either HIV-infected or at risk for HIV acquisition.

The program would play an important role in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ effort to understand the current epidemiology of HIV infection, disease progression, treatment use and outcomes, and related co-morbidities among U.S. residents with HIV.

Understanding differences in HIV disease and treatment outcomes between women compared to men, and in different racial and ethnic groups, is a critical public health goal.  The clinical research consortium is an integral part of the NIAID portfolio of research on HIV in women.

December 18, 1993
CDC Ties Definition of AIDS to T-cell Counts

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expands its definition of AIDS, declaring those with T-cell (CD4) counts below 200 to have AIDS.

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In a report, the CDC revises its case definition of AIDS to emphasize the clinical importance of the CD4+ T-lymphocyte count in the categorization of HIV-related clinical conditions.

In the same MMWR, CDC adds three new conditions — pulmonary tuberculosis, recurrent pneumonia, and invasive cervical cancer — to the list of clinical indicators of AIDS.  These new conditions mean that more women and injection drug users are expected be diagnosed with AIDS.

December 22, 1993
‘Philadelphia’ Opens in Movie Theaters Nationwide

The film Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks as a lawyer with AIDS, opens in theaters. Based on a true story, it is the first major Hollywood film on AIDS.

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Filmed on location, Philadelphia included in its cast about 50 people living with AIDS, most of them clients of the Action Wellness healthcare center.

Earning $200 million at the box office and several Oscar nods,Jonathan Demme’s courtroom drama was a catalyst for conversations, acceptance and other film projects that might never been produced.

February 17, 1994
Author-Journalist Randy Shilts Dies

Randy Shilts, a U.S. journalist who covered the AIDS epidemic and who authored And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic, dies of AIDS-related illness at age 42.

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Randy Shilts joined the newsroom of The San Francisco Chronicle in 1981 to report on gay politics, making him the first full-time openly gay journalist in the U.S. mainstream press. As one of the earliest people in the media to recognize the importance of AIDS as a national issue, Shilts dedicated his writing career to bringing the epidemic to the attention of the American public.

He authored three books, including The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk and And The Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (1980-1985).

Although Shilts had been tested for HIV earlier, Shilts postponed learning the results out of fear the knowledge would compromise his objectivity. He was informed he had tested positive for the virus the day he wrote the final page of And The Band Played On.

When Shilts pitched the book to publishers, he was rejected until St. Martin’s made a modest offer with an advance of $16,000, recalls friend Michael Denneny, who edited the book.  And The Band Played On would go on to sell more than 100,000 hardcover copies, and some 600,000 paperbacks.

“He worked four years on that book,” Denneny says. “He went into debt. At one point, literally to pay his rent, he had to empty this huge water jug full of pennies, nickels and dimes.”

He died while planning a fourth book examining homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church.

At his memorial service at Glide Memorial Church, his friend and assistant Linda Alband placed his press card on his casket.

 

May 20, 1994
CDC Issues Guidelines for Organ and Tissue Transplants

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues guidelines for preventing HIV transmission during organ and tissue transplants.

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The guidelines follow a report to the CDC about a case of HIV transmission from a screened, antibody-negative donor to several transplant recipients.

Titled, Guidelines for Preventing Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Through Transplantation of Human Tissue and Organs. the report seeks to reduce “the already low risk of HIV transmission by transplantation of organs and tissues.”

August 5, 1994
Researchers Recommend AZT to Prevent Mother-to-Infant Transmission

The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that pregnant women be given the antiretroviral drug AZT to reduce the risk of perinatal transmission of HIV.

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Following a workshop to develop recommendations for the use of AZT with HIV-infected women who are pregnant, the Public Health Service determines that AZT administered to a selected group of HIV-infected women and their infants is successful in reducing the risk of HIV transmission by approximately 66%.

In its report, the Public Health Service states that because the clinical status of many HIV-infected women may differ from that of the women in the trial, the recommendations should be tailored to each woman’s clinical situation.

“The potential benefits, unknown long-term effects, and gaps in knowledge about her specific clinical situation must be discussed with the woman,” the report states.  “This information is intended to provide a basis for discussion between the woman and her healthcare provider so that the woman can weigh the risks and benefits of such therapy and make informed decisions about her treatment.”

November 11, 1994
Activist & Reality TV Star Pedro Zamora Dies

Pedro Zamora, an HIV-positive man appearing in MTV’s popular show The Real World, dies of AIDS-related illness at age 22.

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As one of the first openly gay men with AIDS in media, Zamora brings international attention to HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues and prejudices through his appearance on MTV’s reality television series, The Real World: San Francisco.

Zamora’s commitment ceremony to his partner Sean Sasser, which is filmed for the show, is also the first same-sex ceremony in television history.  Zamora dies just hours after the finale of The Real World: San Francisco aired on MTV.

December 23, 1994
FDA Approves Saliva HIV Test

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves an oral HIV test, the first non-blood-based antibody test for HIV.

Learn More.

FDA says the test, which uses fluid from the mouth instead of blood, will be available only from doctors and will be administered only by people trained to do so.

“As long as a positive test is followed up with a blood test and as long as there is appropriate counseling available, it is a reasonable thing to do,” Dr. Jeff Lawrence tells The New York Times.  Dr. Lawrence is a consultant to the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

Studies show that for every 100 people infected with HIV, the oral-fluid-based test will miss one or two, and for every 100 people who are not infected, test results will be incorrectly positive for approximately two people.

1994
AIDS Becomes Leading Killer of Americans Aged 25-44

AIDS becomes the leading cause of death among all Americans aged 25 to 44, new Federal data shows.

Learn More.

By the end of 1994, more than 440,000 cases of AIDS, including more than 6,000 among children, are reported since the epidemic was first recognized in 1981.

More than 250,000 people are already dead from AIDS or AIDS-related causes.

About 75% of all cases have been reported in the 25-to-44 age group.

February 24, 1995
Olympian Diver Greg Louganis Shares HIV+ Status

Olympic gold-medal diver Greg Louganis discloses that he is HIV-positive.  The announcement draws criticism from some who believe Louganis should have disclosed his status prior to competing in the 1988 Olympics.

Learn More.

In a TV interview with ABC’s 20/20, Louganis says he knew he was HIV-positive before the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, and was greatly concerned when he hit his head on the board during a dive and shed blood in the pool.

Since the Seoul Games, Louganis’s infection has developed into AIDS, according to the definition established by the Centers for Disease Control.

“According to the CDC, I have AIDS versus HIV,” Louganis told Barbara Walters. “I do have AIDS.”

Louganis, 35, who won four gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics, retired from the sport in 1988 and was recently pursuing an acting career. He discloses his homosexuality at the 1994 Gay Games in New York.

Olympic athletes are tested for an array of performance-enhancing drugs, but they are not required to reveal their HIV status. Mike Moran, spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, tells the Los Angeles Times that the policy was not likely to change.

Regarding the blood that spilled into Seoul’s Chamshil Pool, the International Olympic Committee and FINA, swimming and diving’s world governing body, issue statements saying that a minuscule amount of blood in chlorinated water poses no threat to anyone.

Louganis, 35, joins two other major athletes who shared their HIV-positive status.. Magic Johnson left the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991 after saying he was infected with HIV.  Tennis star Arthur Ashe died in 1993 of AIDS-related causes.

 

March 27, 1995
Rapper Eazy-E Dies

Rapper Eazy-E dies from AIDS-related illness at the age of 31, one month after being diagnosed.

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As a founding member of the rap group N.W.A. (which stands for Niggaz Wit’ Attitude), Eazy-E was the executive producer of the gangster rap album, Straight Outta Compton, released in 1988. The album’s raps about gunplay, drug dealing, raw sex, gang solidarity and police harassment in a Los Angeles suburb included one song that is a fantasy of violent revenge against racist police officers.

Born Eric Lynn Wright, Eazy-E dies at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after being hospitalized on Feb. 24 for what he thought was asthma. Tests reveal he has AIDS, and on March 16 he would release a statement that he had contracted the disease.

An album that Eazy had been working on would be released posthumously in 1995, and an EP of unreleased tracks would be issued on the seven-year anniversary of his death.

One of his children, singer E.B. Wright, would go on to produce A Ruthless Scandal, a documentary about the final days of her father’s life. His story is also depicted in the 2015 biopic Straight Outta Compton, directed by F. Gary Gray.

National HIV Testing Day
June 27, 1995
National HIV Testing Day is Launched

The National Association of People With AIDS launches the first National HIV Testing Day.

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National HIV Testing Day is now held annually to encourage people to get tested for HIV, know their status, and get linked to care and treatment.

The National Association of People With AIDS ceased operations in 2013, National HIV Testing Day continues to be observed annually.

On this day, the CDC and many other organizations distribute free HIV self-testing kits.

July 14, 1995
CDC Issues Guidelines on Prevention of Opportunistic Infections

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issue the first guidelines to help healthcare providers prevent opportunistic infections in people living with HIV.

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In a precursor to a full report that would be published in the August edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases, the CDC announces that healthcare providers can prevent opportunistic infections in HIV-positive people by adhering to a set of guidelines.

The set of recommendations are rated according to the strength of the recommendation and the quality of evidence supporting the recommendation.  The guidelines address prevention techniques for adults, adolescents and children.

July 28, 1995
President Clinton Creates Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

President Bill Clinton establishes his Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS to provide advice, information, and recommendations to his administration regarding HIV/AIDS.

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The Council meets for the first time on this day in 1995.

PACHA focuses on programs, policies, and research that address HIV/AIDS, including the consideration of common co-morbidities of those infected with HIV as needed to promote effective HIV prevention and treatment.

The Council continues to exist and provide advice for each successive Presidential Administrations.

September 22, 1995
CDC Issues Report Supporting Needle-Exchange Programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorses a National Academy of Sciences report that concludes needle-cxchange programs are an effective method of preventing HIV infection.

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In its review of Syringe Exchange Programs — United States, 1994-1995, a report by the National Academy of Sciences. the CDC expresses support for needle-exchange programs, stating that they are effective in reducing HIV transmission associated with drug injection.

The report states that as of December 1994, 35.3% of the 435,319 cases of AIDS reported among adults are associated with IV drug use.  In addition, injection of illegal drugs is the risk behavior most frequently associated with heterosexual and perinatal transmission of HIV in the U.S.

The goal of needle-exchange programs is to reduce HIV transmission associated with IV drug use by providing sterile syringes in exchange for used, potentially HIV-contaminated syringes.

October 31, 1995
More than 500,000 AIDS Cases Reported to CDC

The number of AIDS cases exceeds 500,000 in the U.S., with 311,381 (62%) of them representing deaths.

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In the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the total number of persons in the U.S. reported to have AIDS climbs to 501,310.

According to the report, the rates per 100,000 population for reported AIDS cases in 1994 are:

  • 48 in the Northeast,
  • 31 in the South,
  • 29 in the West, and
  • 13 in the Midwest

However, during 1988-1992 and 1993-October 1995, the largest numbers of cases (65,926 and 86,462, respectively) were reported from the South, which also accounted for the largest proportionate increase of reported cases (31%).

December 6, 1995
President Clinton Holds White House Conference on HIV/AIDS

The President and Vice President convene the first White House Conference on HIV/AIDS in the history of the epidemic, bringing together more than 300 experts, activists and citizens from across the country for a discussion of key issues.

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During the conference, President Clinton shows the country the human face of AIDS and the toll the epidemic is taking on parents, families and communities.

The President also introduces steps and goals to accelerate progress toward a vaccine and a cure.  He urges Congress to maintain the Medicaid safety net; Medicaid pays for the care of nearly half of Americans living with AIDS, including more than 90% of children with AIDS.

Some conference attendees were disappointed, however, that the President did not voice support for government-sponsored needle distribution and exchange programs.

More than 250 participants from 37 states and Washington D.C. are invited to attend the White House conference. In the morning, participants assemble into nine working groups for in-depth discussions on research, substance abuse treatment, transmission prevention, international issues, discrimination, housing and services.

Following lunch, participants gather to observe a plenary session in the Cash Room of the Treasury Building, the focus of which is a roundtable discussion with the President.  One representative from each of the morning’s working groups join the President at the roundtable, along with Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy Patsy Fleming, Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, and Dr. Scott Hitt, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

Also joining the roundtable are two Americans personally impacted by the AIDS crisis: Sean Sasser of Atlanta, who tested positive for HIV at age 19 (best known for his relationship with activist and reality TV star Pedro Zamora) and Eileen Mitzman of New York, who lost her 26-year-old daughter Marni to AIDS in 1991.

December 7, 1995
FDA Approves First Protease Inhibitor

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the first of a new class of drugs — protease inhibitors — designed to attack the HIV virus.  This ushers in a new era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which has the potential to extend life expectancies for people living with HIV.

Learn More.

The drug, saquinavir, manufactured by Hoffmann-La Roche, is a member of the new class of drugs called protease inhibitors that attack the ability of the HIV virus to reproduce. It does so by inhibiting an enzyme called protease that is crucial to HIV reproduction.

The first antiretroviral therapies developed for people with HIV are nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), but these drugs would prove to be only partially effective. The addition of an orally administered protease inhibitor reduces HIV plasma concentrations and increases T-cell (CD4+) counts to levels that enable patients to have fairly normal life expectancies.

This combination — two nucleoside analogs and a protease inhibitor — is now considered the cornerstone of active antiretroviral therapy.

 

January 1, 1996
UN Creates Joint Program to Strengthen AIDS Response

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS is launched to strengthen the way in which the UN is responding to AIDS.

Learn More.

UNAIDS takes an innovative approach, bringing together various UN organizations to coordinate advocacy for global action on the epidemic.

The launch of UNAIDS involved “a long series of meetings, reports, working groups, whispered conversations and angry confrontations in corridors and telephone calls around the world,” according to UNAIDS: The First 10 Years.

With a staff of 91 in the Geneva-based Secretariat and 10 in various regions, the fledgling organization
quickly learns how to act on its ambitious agenda.

Political advocacy was high on UNAIDS’ list of priorities.  By June 1996, UNAIDS staff had met with political, economic and social leaders in more than 50 countries to brief them on UNAIDS’ mandate and work.

Sally Cowal, Director of External Relations at UNAIDS, would be worried about not having a medical background.

“But as I came to understand more about the epidemic,” Cowal says, “it became clear to me that the political motivation around it, the need to overcome denial and complacency, were probably as important as anything we could do.”

1996
FDA Accelerates Approval of HIV Tests & Therapies

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves several new tests and HIV treatments in a three-month period.

Learn More.

Among its fast-track approvals are:

  • the first HIV home testing and collection kit (May 14)
  • a viral load test, which measures the level of HIV in the blood (June 3)
  • the first non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) drug, nevirapine (June 21)
  • the first HIV urine test (August 6)
May 20, 1996
Congress Reauthorizes Ryan White CARE Act

Congress reauthorizes the Ryan White CARE Act, continuing federal funding for primary medical care, essential support services, and medications for low-income people with HIV/AIDS.

Learn More.

The legislation grants the funding needed for the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to continue its public health response to HIV.

July 7, 1996
Conference Attendees Optimistic about HAART Treatment

The 11th International AIDS Conference in Vancouver highlights the effectiveness of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), creating a period of optimism.

Learn More.

The first international AIDS conference in two years, the event is one of the more eagerly anticipated scientific meetings in years. Data on promising new drug treatments for AIDS, insights into the ways HIV infects cells, and the mechanisms of “host resistance” to that attack are scheduled to top the agenda.

Remarkable gains in using combinations of costly new and old drugs promise to slow the progression of AIDS and to allow many people infected with HIV to live longer and healthier lives, conference presenters announce to attendees.

With 15,000 delegates, journalists and commercial exhibitors in attendance, it is the largest conference so far.  The theme is “One World, One Hope.”

While it seems that AIDS may finally become a managable disease in developed countries, less developed nations are struggling to scrape together the resources to provide necessary treatment and services to people with HIV and AIDS.

Data would be released at the conference that estimate a total of 21.8 million people to be currently living with HIV/AIDS, the vast majority of whom live in developing countries.

 

1996
AIDS Quilt Covers National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is displayed in its entirety for the last time; it covers the entire National Mall in Washington, D.C.

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An estimated 1.2 million people come to view it, among them President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and Second Lady Tipper Gore.

The Quilt was first displayed on the National Mall on Oct. 11, 1987, during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.  At that time, it consisted of 1,920 panels and covered a space roughly the size of a football field.

Today, the Quilt has grown too large to be displayed all at once on the National Mall.  It is an epic 54-ton tapestry that includes nearly 50,000 panels dedicated to more than 105,000 individuals.  It is the premiere symbol of the AIDS pandemic, a living memorial to a generation lost to AIDS and an important HIV prevention education tool.

Each year, the National AIDS Memorial works with hundreds of partners across the country to orchestrate more than 1,000 displays in schools, universities, places of worship, corporations and community centers. On World AIDS Day, December 1st, more than half of the Quilt goes on display around the nation.

New panels are still being made.

December 30, 1996
Researcher David Ho Develops ‘Hit Early, Hit Hard’ Treatment

HIV/AIDS researcher Dr. David Ho is named TIME magazine “Man of the Year” for advocating a new strategy for treating HIV – “hit early, hit hard.”

Learn More.

Dr. Ho’s approach to HIV treatment involves placing patients on new, more aggressive treatment regimes earlier in the course of their infection in hopes of keeping them healthier longer.

“We set up several studies in mid-1995, and by mid-1996 we were able to show that for the first time we could drop the virus down so that it’s not detectable and keep it down for a year or more,” Dr. Ho tells Frontline in a series of interviews in 2005-2006.  “That was what was later hailed as the major advance in HIV therapeutics.”

1996
Total of U.S. AIDS Cases Begins to Decline

The number of new AIDS cases diagnosed in the U.S. declines for the first time since the beginning of the epidemic.

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Ending the 16-year incline of cases, 1996 data shows that AIDS-related deaths dropped 23% from 1995 to 1996.

Experts credit the downturn with the availability of aggressive new therapies that keep infected patients healthier, as well as the possibility that fewer people are becoming infected in the first place.

The positive trends do, however, mask a troubling development: cases among women and heterosexuals who do not use drugs, particularly minorities, are on the rise.

African-American women are particularly at risk. In 1994, officials at the Centers for Disease Control reported that black women were almost 15 times as likely as white women to test positive for HIV.

”My new cases among women are often young women, coming in with a first pregnancy who are being tested as part of that pregnancy and finding out that they are HIV-positive,” said Dr. Mary Young, who treats AIDS patients at Georgetown University here.

“The gay community has done a wonderful job of getting the message out. But I don’t know that we target young African-American women very well.”

May 18, 1997
President Clinton Sets Goal of HIV Vaccine by 2007

President Bill Clinton announces that the goal of finding an effective vaccine for HIV in 10 years will be a top national priority, and calls for the creation of an AIDS vaccine research center at the National Institutes of Health.

Learn More.

President Clinton would dedicate the new Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center on June 9, 1999.

August 2, 1997
Afrobeat Star & Activist Fela Kuti Dies

Musician and activist Fela Kuti, a pioneer of Afrobeat music who was repeatedly arrested and beaten for writing lyrics that questioned the Nigerian government, dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 58.

Learn More.

Kuti was meant to be a doctor, an upstanding member of Nigeria’s elite like his parents, according to The Guardian.  At age 20, he would study in England, where his first cousin, playwright Wole Soyinka, was already making a name for himself.

“Instead, Fela Ransome-Kuti became infamous, an outlaw musician who declared himself president of his own ‘Kalakuta Republic,’ a sprawling compound in the suburbs of Lagos that housed his recording studio and offered sanctuary to the dispossessed,” writes Neil Spencer of The Guardian.

Rebelling against oppressive regimes through his music would come with a heavy cost for Kuti. Over his lifetime, he would be arrested 200 times and endure numerous beatings from government officials.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Kuti’s subversive song lyrics established him as political dissident, resulting in Afrobeat to be associated with making political, social and cultural statements about greed and corruption. One of Kuti’s most popular songs, “Zombie,” questions Nigerian soldiers’ blind obedience to carrying out orders.  Another, “V.I.P. (Vagabonds in Power),” seeks to empower the disenfranchised masses to rise up against the government.

At his club, the Shrine, his band played until dawn while dozens of singers and dancers writhed and glittered amid drifts of igbo smoke. Here, Nigeria’s corrupt dictators were denounced and ancient Yoruban deities honoured, all to a relentless backdrop of the “Afrobeat” that Fela had distilled from the musical collision of Africa and black America.

At his death from AIDS-related illiness in Lagos, Nigeria, Fela would leave behind seven children, 50-odd albums and a musical legacy that has been kept alive by his sons and former drummer, Tony Allen

Roughly 1 million people would attend his funeral procession, which began at Tafawa Balewa Square and ended at Kuti’s home, Kalakuta, in Ikeja, Nigeria, where he is laid to rest in the front yard.  Belatedly, Afrobeat would become a cause célèbre among young European and American music fans.

September 26, 1997
FDA Approves First Antiretroviral Drug Combo

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves Combivir, the first one-pill combination of the two most widely used antiretroviral medications for AIDS and HIV infection.

Learn More.

A combination of Retrovir (zidovudine or AZT) and Epivir (lamivudine or 3TC), Combivir decreases the number of pills people with HIV have to take daily.

As the first combination agent, the medication significantly simplies HIV therapy.  Combivir becomes the gold standard nucleoside “backbone” until the mid-2000s, when the introduction of newer fixed-dose combinations with improved tolerability and toxicity arrive.

 

November 21, 1997
Congress Pushes FDA to Accelerate Drug Approval Process

Congress enacts the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997, codifying an accelerated drug-approval process and allowing dissemination of information about off-label uses of drugs.

1997
Worldwide Total of AIDS Cases Grow to 30 Million

UNAIDS estimates that 30 million adults and children worldwide have HIV, and that, each day, 16,000 people are newly infected with the virus.

1997
Protease Inhibitor Use Leads to Drug Resistance in Some

As a greater number of people begin taking protease inhibitors, resistance to the drugs becomes more common, and drug resistance emerges as an area of grave concern within the AIDS community.

1998
Nearly Half of U.S. AIDS Deaths are in Black Population

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that black people account for almost half of U.S. AIDS-related deaths.

Community leaders, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are briefed on the highly disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS in their communities.

Learn More.

The leadership coalition develops a “Call to Action,” requesting that the President and Surgeon General declare HIV/AIDS a “State of Emergency” in the African American community.

AIDS-related mortality for black people is almost 10 times that of whites and three times that of hispanics, states a 1999 report from the CDC.  Only 13% of the U.S. population are black, but they account for 49% of AIDS deaths. Moreover, African Americans are experiencing less dramatic declines in AIDS deaths than whites.

“Ultimately how we succeed in affecting the course of the HIV epidemic in communities of color will be a measure of our collective ability to better target HIV prevention, research, and treatment,” says Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan, CDC Director.

The CDC report expresses hope that partnerships with black communities are becoming stronger in recent months, when black community leaders join with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Congressional Black Caucus to create more HIV prevention programs in communities of color.

April 20, 1998
Federal Funding Continues to be Withheld from Needle-Exchange Programs

Donna Shalala, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, determines that needle-exchange programs are effective and do not encourage the use of illegal drugs, but the Clinton Administration refuses to lift the ban on use of Federal funds for these programs.

April 24, 1998
CDC Issues Guidelines for Antiretroviral Therapy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues the first national treatment guidelines for the use of antiretroviral therapy in adults and adolescents with HIV.

June 1, 1998
Sub-Saharan Africa Shows More Women Infected than Men

In June, UNAIDS reports that the number of women living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa now exceeds that of men.

June 25, 1998
SCOTUS Rules ADA Covers People Living with HIV

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Americans with Disabilities Act covers those in earlier stages of HIV disease, not just those who have developed AIDS.

October 12, 1998
Congress Approves Funding for Hemophilia Relief

Congress enacts the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund Act, honoring the Florida teenager infected with HIV through contaminated blood products.

Learn More.

The Act authorizes payments to individuals with hemophilia and other blood clotting disorders who were infected with HIV by unscreened blood-clotting agents between 1982 and 1987.

1998
President Clinton Declares Crisis in Minority Communities

President Clinton declares AIDS to be a “severe and ongoing health crisis” in black and hispanic communities in the U.S. and announces a special package of initiatives aimed at reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS on racial and ethnic minorities.

Learn More.

The initiative invests an unprecedented $156 million to improve the nation’s effectiveness in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS in minority communities.

The funding is spread across three broad categories: technical assistance and infrastructure support; increasing access to prevention and care; and building stronger linkages to address the needs of specific populations.

November 12, 1998
Congress Allocates $156 Million for Minority AIDS Initiative

With the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congress funds the Minority AIDS Initiative.

Learn More.

An unprecedented $156 million is dedicated to improving the nation’s effectiveness in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS in minority communities.

1999
Congress Examines HIV/AIDS Impact on Hispanic Community

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, convenes hearings on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Latino community.

February 7, 1999
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Raises Visibility

The first National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is launched as a grassroots-education effort  to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment in communities of color.

1999
U.S. Firm Begins Human Trials for Vaccine in Thailand

VaxGen, a San Francisco-based biotechnology company, begins conducting the first human vaccine trials in Thailand.

May 1, 1999
Black AIDS Institute Founded

In May, activist Phill Wilson founds the Black AIDS Institute. The Institute’s mission is “to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV.” Its motto: “Our People, Our Problem, Our Solution.”

July 19, 1999
U.S. Funds Program to Address Global Epidemic

President Clinton announces the formation of the “Leadership and Investment in Fighting an Epidemic” Initiative, which will provide funding to address the global HIV epidemic.

1999
AIDS Becomes Number One Killer in Africa

The World Health Organization announces that HIV/AIDS has become the fourth biggest killer worldwide and the number one killer in Africa.

Learn More.

WHO estimates that 33 million people are living with HIV worldwide, and that 14 million have died of AIDS.

December 10, 1999
CDC Updates HIV Definition to Help Extend State Reach

he U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releases a new HIV case definition to help state health departments expand their HIV surveillance efforts and more accurately track the changing course of the epidemic.

January 10, 2000
UN Addresses AIDS as Global Peace & Security Threat

he United Nations Security Council meets to discuss the impact of AIDS on peace and security in Africa. This marks the first time that the council discusses a health issue as a threat to peace and security.

January 27, 2000
President Clinton Announces Global Vaccine Initiative

In his State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton announces the launch of the Millennium Vaccine Initiative to create incentives for developing and distributing vaccines against HIV, TB, and malaria.

Learn More.

In his address, President Clinton calls for concerted international action to combat infectious diseases in developing countries.  The President asks for foundations, pharmaceutical companies, international agencies, and other governments to join in this task.

 

April 30, 2000
President Clinton Declares HIV/AIDS a National Security Threat

President Clinton declares that HIV/AIDS is a threat to U.S. national security.

May 10, 2000
U.S. Begins Importing HIV Treatments to Developing Countries

President Clinton issues an Executive Order to assist developing countries in importing and producing generic HIV treatments.

2000
Global Pressure Results in Reduced Drug Cost for Developing Countries

UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, and other global health groups announce a joint initiative with five major pharmaceutical manufacturers to negotiate reduced prices for HIV/AIDS drugs in developing countries.

July 23, 2000
G8 Summit Leaders Call for Increase in Worldwide Resources for HIV/AIDS

The leaders of the “Group of Eight” (G8) Summit release a statement acknowledging the need for additional HIV/AIDS resources.

Learn More.

G8 members make up most of the world’s largest economies, and include: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

August 19, 2000
U.S. Congress Responds to Need for Global Assistance

Congress enacts the Global AIDS and Tuberculosis Relief Act of 2000, which provides assistance to countries with large populations of people living with HIV/AIDS.

2000
UN Adopts Millennium Development Goals to Reverse Spread of HIV

As part of its Millennium Declaration, the United Nations adopts the Millennium Development Goals, which include a specific goal of reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB.

September 7, 2000
Congress Reauthorizes Ryan White CARE Act

Congress reauthorizes the Ryan White CARE Act for the second time.

May 18, 2001
HIV Vaccine Awareness Day Observed

May 18 is the first annual observance of HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.

June 25, 2001
UN General Assembly Calls for Global Fund

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly holds its first Special Session on AIDS (UNGASS) and passes the UNGASS Declaration of Commitment and the ILO (International Labor Organization) Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS in the Workplace.

Learn More.

The meeting also calls for the creation of an international “global fund” to support efforts by countries and organizations to combat the spread of HIV through prevention, care, and treatment, including the purchase of HIV medications.

2001
U.S. Reaffirms HIV/AIDS Is National Security Threat

Newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, reaffirms the U.S. statement that HIV/AIDS is a national security threat.

2001
Major Pharma Companies Further Reduce Cost of Therapies

After generic drug manufacturers offer to produce discounted, generic forms of HIV/AIDS drugs for developing countries; several major pharmaceutical manufacturers agree to offer further reduced drug prices to those countries.

2001
HRSA Prioritizes Untreated HIV+ Individuals

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) begins focusing on individuals with HIV disease who know their status and are not receiving HIV-related services. HRSA instructs its grantees to address this population’s “unmet need” for services.

2001
CDC Strategic Plan Addresses Major Curtailment in HIV Transmission

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announce a new HIV Prevention Strategic Plan to cut annual HIV infections in the U.S. by half within five years.

November 4, 2001
Doha Declaration Announced; Promotes Generics

The World Trade Organization (WTO) announces the Doha Declaration , which affirms the rights of developing countries to buy or manufacture generic medications to meet public health crises such as HIV/AIDS.

January 22, 2002
Global Fund Launched to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a partnership between governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, and affected communities, is established. In April of 2002, The Global Fund approves its first round of grants to governments and private-sector organizations in the developing world. The grants total $600 million for two-year projects.

April 25, 2002
Global Fund Issues 2-year Grants

The Global Fund approves its first round of grants to governments and private-sector organizations in the developing world. The grants total $600 million for two-year projects.

June 25, 2002
Access to Drugs Improved for Poor Countries

The United States announces a framework that will allow poor countries unable to produce pharmaceuticals to gain greater access to drugs needed to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other public health crises.

2002
HIV/AIDS Tops Causes of Death in Sub-Saharan Africa

UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS) reports that HIV/AIDS is now by far the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth biggest global killer. Average life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa falls from 62 years to 47 years as a result of AIDS.

2002
Dozens of Countries Suffer from HIV/AIDS Spread

The 14th International AIDS Conference is held in Barcelona, Spain from July 7-12. Dozens of countries report they are experiencing serious HIV/AIDS epidemics, and many more are on the brink.

2002
10 Million People Aged 15-24, Worldwide, Live With HIV

Worldwide, 10 million young people, aged 15-24, and almost 3 million children under 15 are living with HIV. During this year, approximately 3.5 million new infections will occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and the epidemic will claim the lives of an estimated 2.4 million Africans.

2002
Side Effects, Drug Resistance Call Therapy Strategy Into Question

Side effects and increasing evidence of drug resistance call into question the “hit early, hit hard” strategy.

2002
India, China, Russia, Nigeria & Ethiopia Represent Next Wave of Epidemic

The U.S. National Intelligence Council releases Next Wave of the Epidemic, a report focusing on HIV in India, China, Russia, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.

November 7, 2002
FDA Approves New Rapid-Diagnosis Test

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announces the approval of the OraQuick Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Test with 99.6% accuracy.  A second FDA-approved rapid HIV test, Single Use Diagnostic System for HIV-1, remains available.

Learn More.

Unlike other antibody tests for HIV, this blood test can be stored at room temperature, requires no specialized equipment, and may be used outside of traditional laboratory or clinical settings, allowing more widespread use of HIV testing.

The new test provides a result in about 20 minutes, while the fastest test currently in use takes 90 minutes.  In practice, however, most people who seek AIDS testing aren’t given their results for a week or more after they provide a blood sample.

The OraQuick Test requires that a person prick his finger and use a wire loop to capture a drop of blood. The drop is then put in a vial containing a diluting solution.

Then a paper tab attached to a cap is lowered into the solution. A dark line appears on the tab if it makes contact with certain universal blood proteins. If antibodies to HIV are present, a second dark line appears.

Public health officials are hopeful that the test will substantially increase the number of people seeking testing, and decrease the fraction who, once tested, never return for the results.

January 19, 2003
LGBTQ Rights Pioneer Morris Kight Dies

Morris Kight, longtime leader in Southern California’s gay rights movement, dies at the age of 83.

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Kight, who served for more than 20 years on the LA Human Rights Commission as its most senior member until his retirement in 2002, dies in his sleep at the Carl Bean Hospice.

He was hospitalized last month in declining health with a variety of ailments, including liver cancer, heart problems and eventually pneumonia. His health was further compromised by a series of strokes suffered late in life.

The co-founder of the Gay and Lesbian Community Service Center of L.A. (now called the Los Angeles LGBT Center), Kight also was a key organizer of the West Coast’s first gay pride parade and celebration in 1970, which effectively galvanized the modern gay rights movement in Los Angeles. The parade has drawn nearly 500,000 people in recent years.

In 1983, Morris helped found Aid for AIDS, a community organization that raised money to give to people with AIDS for emergency payment of rent, mortgages and utilities to enable them to die with dignity at home.

Later a friendship developed between AIDS activist Michael Weinstein, who went on to co-found the Chris Brownlie Hospice in 1987 and subsequently, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, writes the Blade Los Angeles.

His memorial at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood would draw scores of dignitaries and old friends.

January 28, 2003
President Bush Announces PEPFAR with $15 Billion in Funding

President George W. Bush announces the creation of the United States President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in his State of the Union address. PEPFAR is a $15 billion, 5-year plan to combat AIDS, primarily in countries with a high burden of infections.

February 24, 2003
Early AIDS Vaccine Trial Fails

VaxGen, a San Francisco-based biotechnology company, announces that its AIDSVAX vaccine trial failed to reduce overall HIV infection rates among those who were vaccinated.

March 31, 2003
Gates Foundation Donates $60 Million to HIV Research

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awards a $60 million grant to the International Partnership for Microbicides to support research and development of microbicides to prevent transmission of HIV.

April 18, 2003
CDC Announces New Prevention Initiative

CDC announces Advancing HIV Prevention: New Strategies for a Changing Epidemic, a new prevention initiative that aims to reduce barriers to early diagnosis and increase access to, and utilization of, quality medical care, treatment, and ongoing prevention services for those living with HIV.

2003
Majority of New U.S. Infections Come from Lack of Knowledge

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculate that 27,000 of the estimated 40,000 new infections that occur each year in the U.S. result from transmission by individuals who do not know they are infected.

October 15, 2003
1st National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

The first annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day in the U.S.

October 23, 2003
Clinton Foundation Secures Generic Drug Price Reductions

The William J. Clinton Foundation secures price reductions for HIV/AIDS drugs from generic manufacturers, to benefit developing nations.

December 1, 2003
WHO Announces ‘3 by 5’ Initiative

The World Health Organization (WHO) announces the “3 by 5” initiative , to bring treatment to 3 million people by 2005.

2004
Congress Authorizes $350 Million for PEPFAR

In January, the U.S. Congress authorizes the first $350 million for the United States President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

2004
Global Coalition on Women and AIDS is Formed

UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS) launches The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS to raise the visibility of the epidemic’s impact on women and girls around the world.

March 26, 2004
Diagnostic Test Based on Oral Fluid Samples Approved

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the use of oral fluid samples with a rapid HIV diagnostic test kit that provides the result in approximately 20 minutes.

May 27, 2004
FDA Expands Availability of Therapies in Africa and Developing Countries

FDA issues a guidance document for expedited approval of low cost, safe, and effective co-packaged and fixed-dose combination HIV therapies so that high-quality drugs can be made available in Africa and developing countries around the world under PEPFAR.

June 10, 2004
G8 Promotes Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise

Leaders of the “Group of Eight” (G8) Summit (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) call for the creation of a “Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise,” a consortium of government and private-sector groups designed to coordinate and accelerate research efforts to find an effective HIV vaccine.

January 6, 2005
Son of South African Leader Nelson Mandela Dies

Makgatho L. Mandela dies of AIDS-related illness at the age of 54.  On the day of his son’s death, Nelson Mandela announces the cause of the death to help raise awareness about the disease and reduce the stigma associated with it.

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Nelson Mandela holds a press conference to announce that his son had died of AIDS in a Johannesburg clinic.  Makgatho Mandela had been seriously ill for more than a month, but the nature of his ailment had not been made public before his death.

The elder Mandela says he was disclosing the cause of his son’s death to focus more attention on AIDS, which is still a taboo topic among many South Africans.  South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV (~6.8 million) in the world.

“That is why I have announced that my son has died of AIDS,” he says. “Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary.”

2005
World Economic Forum Prioritizes HIV/AIDS

During its annual meeting in January, the World Economic Forum approves a set of new priorities, including one with a focus on addressing HIV/AIDS in Africa and other hard-hit regions.

January 26, 2005
700,000 in Developing Countries Receive Antiretroviral Therapies

The World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) , the U.S. Government, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria announce results of joint efforts to increase the availability of antiretroviral drugs in developing countries. An estimated 700,000 people have been reached by the end of 2004.

January 26, 2005
FDA Approves Generic Regimen for PEPFAR

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants tentative approval to a generic copackaged antiretroviral drug regimen for use under the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

May 19, 2005
1st National Asian/Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

This day marks the first annual National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the U.S.

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This day would be observed annually on May 19 to raise awareness about the impact of HIV and stigma among Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

In years to come, organizations around the country would observe the day by hosting community events.  The Banyan Tree Project – a national campaign to end silence and shame about HIV/AIDS in Asian and Pacific Islander communities — leads this day with the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center in collaboration with national partners APAIT Los Angeles, Life Foundation (Honolulu) and MAP for Health (Boston). The campaign includes capacity building assistance, leadership development and HIV awareness promotional events and marketing.

June 2, 2005
UN General Assembly Reviews Progress on 2001 Targets

The United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS meets to review progress on targets set at the 2001 U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS).

June 6, 2005
HIV/AIDS in Africa Becomes Focus of G8 Summit

The “Group of Eight” (G8) Summit focuses on development in Africa, including HIV/AIDS. G8 members make up most of the world’s largest economies and include: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

March 10, 2006
Nat’l Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is Launched

March 10 is the first annual National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the U.S.

March 20, 2006
1st National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 20 is the first annual observance of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the U.S.

May 3, 2006
NIH Sponsors AIDS Conference for Native Americans

On May 3-6, the Office of AIDS Research, in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), sponsors Embracing Our Traditions, Values, and Teachings: Native Peoples of North America HIV/AIDS Conference, in Anchorage, Alaska.

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The conference involves nearly 1,000 participants from the American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, First Nations, and U.S. Territorial Pacific Islander communities.

May 31, 2006
UN Convenes on Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS

The United Nations convenes a follow-up meeting and issues a progress report on the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS .

June 5, 2006
25th Anniversary of Initial AIDS Cases

June 5 marks 25 years since the first AIDS cases were reported.

September 22, 2006
CDC Revises Guidelines on HIV Testing

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) release revised HIV testing recommendations for healthcare settings, recommending routine HIV screening for all adults, aged 13-64, and yearly screening for those at high risk.

2006
Study Indicates Medical Circumcision Reduces HIV Risk

In December, a University of Illinois at Chicago study indicates that medical circumcision of men reduces their risk of acquiring HIV during heterosexual intercourse by 53 percent. The clinical trial of Kenyan men is supported by the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Canadian Institute of Health Research

December 19, 2006
Congress Reauthorizes Ryan White Act for 3rd Time

On December 19, the U.S. Congress reauthorizes the Ryan White CARE Act for the third time.

May 30, 2007
WHO and UNAIDS Issue Testing Guidelines

In an attempt to increase the number of people taking HIV tests, on May 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) issue new guidance recommending “provider-initiated” HIV testing in healthcare settings.

2007
International HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting Held in Rwanda

In June, the Rwandan Government hosts the International HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting.

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Over 1,500 delegates share lessons on HIV prevention, treatment, and care. Cosponsors include WHO, UNAIDS, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria , the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank , and GNP+ (the Global Network of People Living with HIV) .

2007
Over 565,000 U.S. Deaths From AIDS

CDC reports over 565,000 people have died of AIDS in the U.S. since 1981.

2007
CDC Launches ‘Prevention IS Care’ Campaign

In October, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launch Prevention IS Care (PIC), a social marketing campaign designed for healthcare providers who deliver care to people living with HIV.

2008
Uganda Hosts HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting

In June, the International HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting is hosted by the Ugandan Government. Cosponsors include the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria , UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) , the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank , and GNP+ (the Global Network of People Living with HIV)

July 31, 2008
U.S. Reauthorizes PEPFAR; Appropriates $48 Billion

President Bush signs legislation reauthorizing PEPFAR for an additional five years for up to $48 billion. The bill contains a rider that lifts the blanket ban on HIV-positive travelers to the U.S., and gives the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the authority to admit people living with HIV/AIDS on a case-by-case basis.

August 6, 2008
CDC Releases Refined Measurements of HIV Incidence

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) release new domestic HIV incidence estimates that are substantially higher than previous estimates (56,300 new infections per year vs. 40,000).

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The new estimates do not represent an actual increase in the numbers of HIV infections, but reflect a more accurate way of measuring new infections. A separate analysis suggests that the annual number of new infections was never as low as 40,000 and that it has been roughly stable since the late 1990s.

September 18, 2008
National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day Observed

September 18 is the first observance of National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day .

September 27, 2008
National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Observed

National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is first recognized on September 27.

October 6, 2008
Nobel Prize Awarded for 1983 Discovery of HIV

The Nobel Prize in medicine is awarded to two French virologists, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, and Luc A. Montagnier, for their 1983 discovery of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

2009
President Obama Calls for National HIV/AIDS Strategy

Newly elected President Barack Obama calls for the development of the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States.

2009
Washington DC Reports Higher HIV Infection Rate Than West Africa

In February, the District of Columbia Health Department’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration reports that Washington, DC has a higher rate of HIV (3% prevalence) than West Africa– enough to describe it as a “severe and generalized epidemic.”

April 7, 2009
White House & CDC Launch Widespread Communications Plan

The White House and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launch the Act Against AIDS campaign, a multiyear, multifaceted communication campaign designed to reduce HIV incidence in the United States.

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CDC also launches the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), to harness the collective strength and reach of traditional, longstanding African American institutions to increase HIV-related awareness, knowledge, and action within Black communities across the U.S.

May 5, 2009
President Obama Launches $63B Global Health Initiative

President Obama launches the Global Health Initiative (GHI), a six-year, U.S. $63 billion effort to develop a comprehensive approach to addressing global health in low- and middle-income countries. The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) will serve as a core component.

June 8, 2009
Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Observed

June 8 marks the first annual recognition of Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

August 17, 2009
Veterans Dept Moves to Increase HIV Testing

The Department of Veterans Affairs moves to increase the number of veterans receiving HIV tests by dropping the requirement for written consent.

October 6, 2009
100th Antiretroviral Drug Approved

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the 100th antiretroviral drug.

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FDA announces that it has approved the 100th antiretroviral drug under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  Of the more than 100 products that have received either full or tentative FDA approval under the program, 29 are branded drugs and 71 are generics.

This achievement reflects a five-year-old regulatory process designed to fast-track the delivery of cheap HIV drugs to the developing world through the PEPFAR program.

The FDA process was launched in May 2004, in response to a call from activists, clinicians and members of Congress to use the WHO’s pre-certification drug list to make purchases of generic medications for PEPFAR-funded programs.  Instead, a process was devised to allow the FDA to certify generic antiretrovirals (ARVs) for PEPFAR purchase, even if the branded drug was still protected by U.S. patent laws.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement, “This milestone exemplifies the dedication, caring, and hard work of all who strive to better the lives of those infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS.”

November 24, 2009
UNAIDS Reports Significant Decline in HIV Infections

UNAIDS reports that there has been a significant decline (-17%) in new HIV infections in the past decade. East Asia, however, has seen a dramatic 25% increase in infections over the same period.

2009
Ban on Federal Funds for Needle Exchanges Eased

In December, President Obama signs the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, modifying the ban on the use of Federal funds for needle exchange programs.

Learn More.

When applicable, Federal funds may be used for personnel, equipment, syringe disposal services, educational materials, communication and marketing activities and evaluation activities, and evaluation. Some HHS programs may still contain partial or complete bans on the use of funds for needle exchange programs.

January 4, 2010
U.S. Lifts HIV Travel & Immigration Ban

President Obama lifts the HIV travel and immigration ban by removing the remaining regulatory barriers to entry. The lifting of the travel ban occurs in conjunction with the announcement that the International AIDS Conference will return to the U.S for the first time in more than 20 years.

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The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, hails the announcement that the ban, first established in 1987, has been lifted.  On this day, regulations officially remove HIV from the list of communicable diseases that bar foreign nationals from entering the U.S.

“The United States of America has moved one step closer to helping combat the stigma and ignorance that still too often guides public policy debates around HIV/AIDS,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “Today, a sad chapter in our nation’s response to people with HIV and AIDS has finally come to a close and we are a better nation for it.”

Scientific researchers also applaud the end of the travel ban.

“The removal of the immigration and travel ban on HIV-infected persons was a monumental step in eliminating the exceptionalism of HIV and reducing stigma and social barriers for those living with HIV,” Susanna E. Winston, M.D. and Curt G. Beckwith, M. would write in their 2011 report in AIDS Patient Care and STDs.

The researchers further call for increased alliances between the U.S. and its immigrant communities as well as additional options for testing.

March 23, 2010
President Obama Signs ACA, Providing Protections to Those Living With HIV

President Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act , which expands access to care and prevention for all Americans—but offers special protections for those living with chronic illnesses, like HIV, that make it difficult for them to access or afford healthcare.

July 13, 2010
1st Comprehensive U.S. HIV/AIDS Strategy Released

The Obama Administration releases the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States.

July 18, 2010
18th International AIDS Conference Held

The 18th International AIDS Conference takes place in Vienna, Austria from July 18-23. The biggest outcomes from the conference include the results of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa’s (CAPRISA) 004 study of antiretroviral-based vaginal microbicides are released on July 19.

Learn More.

The study shows the microbicides to be safe and effective in reducing risks of new HIV infections among women by 39%. Women who use the microbicides as directed have even higher rates of protection (54%) against HIV infection.

2010
NIH Study Shows Risk Reduction in HIV-Negative Men, Precursor to PrEP

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announce the results of the iPrEx study, showing that a daily dose of HIV drugs reduced the risk of HIV infection among HIV-negative men who have sex with men by 44%, supporting the concept of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in a targeted population.

2010
AIDS United Formed

AIDS Action merges with the National AIDS Fund to form AIDS United

2010
Largest Increase In Antiretroviral Therapy In Low-and Middle-Income Countries

In September, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) , and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) publish their annual Universal Access report for low- and middle-income countries.

Learn More.

The report shows an estimated 5.25 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy in 2009, and an estimated 1.2 million people started treatment that same year – the largest annual increase yet recorded.

September 20, 2010
UN Summit on Accelerating 2015 Millennium Development Goals

On September 20-22, the United Nations (UN) convenes a summit to accelerate progress toward the 2015 Millennium Development Goals

March 23, 2011
Elizabeth Taylor Dies

AIDS activist and award-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor dies on March 23. One of the first celebrities to advocate on behalf of people living with HIV and AIDS, Taylor was the founding national chairman of amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) , a nonprofit organization that supports AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and advocates for AIDS-related public policy.

April 11, 2011
Public Debates Transplant Ban of HIV-Infected Organs

Public debate begins on whether the longstanding ban on transplants of HIV-infected organs should be dropped .

June 8, 2011
HHS Commemorates 30 Years of Leadership in Fighting HIV/AIDS

HHS Secretary Sebelius hosted “Commemorating 30 Years of Leadership in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS”.

June 8, 2011
Over 3,000 Participate in UN’s High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS

Over 3,000 people participate in the United Nation’s (UN) High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS in New York from June 8–10.

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The session recognizes critical milestones, including three decades of the pandemic and the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS and the resulting Declaration of Commitment . At the Meeting, the U.S. joined with other partners in launching a global plan to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and keep mothers alive.

July 13, 2011
White House National Strategy Reflects on Year 1 of Program

On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the White House National HIV/AIDS Strategy, President Obama announces plans to increase efforts to reduce HIV transmission and boost public awareness.

Learn More.

In a video presentation, President Obama, doctors, researchers, policy makers, community leaders and advocates speak about the one-year-old comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy on the 30th anniversary of the disease.

July 13, 2011
CDC Study Supports Use of PrEP As Preventative Therapy

A new CDC study and a separate clinical trial (the Partners PrEP study) provide the first evidence that adaily oral dose of antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV infection can also prevent new infections in individuals exposed to HIV through heterosexual sex.

July 17, 2011
Studies Confirm Efficacy of Antiretroviral Therapies

At the International AIDS Society’s Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment, and Prevention in Rome (July 17-20), scientists announce that two studies have confirmed that individuals taking daily antiretroviral drugs experienced infection rates more than 60 percent lower than those on a placebo.

2011
Federal Agencies Support U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy

Lead Federal agencies release implementation plans in support of the U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

August 7, 2011
HHS Launches 12 Cities Project

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launches the 12 Cities Project, an HHS-wide project that supports and accelerates comprehensive HIV/AIDS planning and cross-agency response in the 12 U.S. jurisdictions that bear the highest AIDS burden in the country.

2011
Regional Dialogues Begin on National HIV/AIDS Strategy

In September, the Office of National AIDS Policy begins to convene a series of five regional dialogues to focus attention on critical implementation issues for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

September 30, 2011
‘Road to AIDS 2012’ Town Hall Held in San Francisco

The first Road to AIDS 2012 Town Hall meeting kicks off in San Francisco. This is the first of 15 meetings to be held across the country, leading up to the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) to be held July 22-27, 2012, in Washington, DC.

November 8, 2011
Secretary Clinton Speaks on Creating AIDS-Free Generation

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shares the U.S. Government’s bold new vision of creating an AIDS-free generation, and speaks about the remarkable progress made in 30 years of fighting AIDS.

November 20, 2011
Declines Reported in Global Infections & Deaths

WHO and UNAIDS announce improved surveillance data showing global HIV prevalence has levelled off, and is lower than previously believed (33 million instead of 40 million). The data also indicate declines in the numbers of new infections and people dying from AIDS-related illnesses, due in part to HIV-prevention programs and antiretroviral therapy.

December 1, 2011
President Obama Announces Plan to Increase Global Fund Commitments

On December 1 (World AIDS Day), at the ONE Campaign and (RED) event in Washington, DC, President Obama announces accelerated efforts to increase the availability of treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.

Learn More.

He challenges the global community to deliver funds to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria , and calls on Congress to keep its past commitments intact. He calls on all Americans to keep fighting to end the epidemic.

December 23, 2011
Science Journal Announces ‘Breakthrough of the Year’

The journal Science announces that it has chosen the HPTN 052 study as its 2011 Breakthrough of the Year.

March 13, 2012
Researchers Discover ART Therapy Increases Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia find that people living with HIV who are taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease

March 27, 2012
HHS Recommends Treatment For All HIV-Positive People

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issues new HIV treatment guidelines recommending treatment for all HIV-infected adults and adolescents, regardless of CD4 count or viral load.

July 1, 2012
Survey Indicates Public Ignorance About HIV and AIDS

The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Washington Post release a joint survey of the American public’s attitudes, awareness, and experiences related to HIV and AIDS.

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The survey finds that roughly a quarter of Americans do not know that HIV cannot be transmitted by sharing a drinking glass—almost exactly the same share as in 1987.

July 3, 2012
FDA Approves First At-Home Test

The FDA approves the first at-home HIV test that will let users learn their HIV status right away.

July 16, 2012
Truvada for PrEP Approved

The FDA approves the use of Truvada® for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Adults who do not have HIV, but who are at risk for infection, can now take this medication to reduce their risk of getting the virus through sexual activity.

July 21, 2012
AIDS Memorial Quilt Displayed in its Entirety

During AIDS 2012, the AIDS Memorial Quilt is displayed in its entirety in Washington, DC, for the first time since 1996.

Learn More.

Volunteers have to rotate nearly 50,000 panels to ensure that the entire work is displayed. Microsoft Research, the University of Southern California, the NAMES Project Foundation, and a handful of other institutions collaborate to create a zoomable “map” of the Quilt

July 22, 2012
International AIDS Conference Returns to the U.S.

The XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012 ) is held in Washington, DC—the first time since 1990 that the conference has been held in the United States.

Learn More.

Conference organizers had refused to convene the event in the U.S. until the Federal government lifted the ban on HIV-positive travelers entering the country.

December 31, 2012
2.3 Million Newly Infected, 1.6 Million Die of AIDS in 2012

At the end of 2012, UNAIDS estimates that, worldwide, 2.3 million people were newly infected with HIV during the year, and 1.6 million people died of AIDS. Approximately 35.3 million people around the world are now living with HIV, including more than 1.2 million Americans

December 31, 2012
UNAIDS Estimates Over 35M People Living With HIV

At the end of 2012, UNAIDS estimates that, worldwide, 2.3 million people were newly infected with HIV during the year, and 1.6 million people died of AIDS. Approximately 35.3 million people around the world are now living with HIV, including more than 1.2 million Americans.

January 1, 2013
PEPFAR Commemorates 10th Anniversary

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) celebrates its 10th anniversary.

March 4, 2013
Case Reported of HIV-Infected Child ‘Functionally Cured’

NIH-funded scientists announce the first well-documented case of an HIV-infected child, designated as “the Mississippi Baby,” who appears to have been functionally cured of HIV infection (i.e., no detectable levels of virus or signs of disease, even without antiretroviral therapy.

June 2, 2013
NY Times Addresses Middle-Aged People Living With HIV

The New York Times runs two articles which focus on middle-aged people living with HIV: The Faces of H.I.V. in New York in 2013 and ‘People Think It’s Over’: Spared Death, Aging People With H.I.V. Struggle to Live

June 5, 2013
NMAC Issues Plan on Mitigating the Impact of HIV on Black Men

The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) releases RISE Proud: Combating HIV Among Black Gay and Bisexual Men, an action plan to mitigate the impact of HIV on black gay and bisexual men.

June 18, 2013
More Than 1 Million Infants Born HIV-Free Due to PEPFAR

Secretary of State John Kerry announces that, thanks to direct PEPFAR support, more than 1 million infants have been born HIV-free since 2003.

July 2, 2013
Bone Marrow Transplant Recipients Reportedly Cured of HIV

Researchers report that two HIV-positive patients in Boston who had bone-marrow transplants for blood cancers have apparently been virus-free for weeks since their antiretroviral drugs were stopped

July 13, 2013
Obama Executive Order Promotes HIV Care Continuum

President Obama issues an Executive Order directing Federal agencies to prioritize supporting the HIV care continuum as a means of implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Learn More.

The HIV Care Continuum Initiative aims to accelerate efforts to improve the percentage of people living with HIV who move from testing to treatment and—ultimately—to viral suppression.

October 13, 2013
National Latino/Hispanic HIV/AIDS Action Agenda Published

The National Latino AIDS Action Network (NLAAN)—a diverse coalition of community-based organizations, national organizations, state and local health departments, researchers and concerned individuals—publishes the National Latino/Hispanic HIV/AIDS Action Agenda to raise awareness, identify priorities, and issue specific recommendations to address the impact of the epidemic in Hispanic/Latino communities.

November 12, 2013
HOPE Act Signed, Allowing Organ Transplants Among HIV-Positive Individuals

President Obama signs the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, which will allow people living with HIV to receive organs from other infected donors. The HOPE Act has the potential to save the lives of about 1,000 HIV-infected patients with liver and kidney failure annually.

December 31, 2013
UNAIDS Announces Steep Drop in HIV Infections in Low-to-Middle Income Countries

UNAIDS announces that new HIV infections have dropped more than 50% in 25 low- and middle-income countries, and the number of people getting antiretroviral treatment has increased 63% in the past two years.

January 1, 2014
ACA Grants Protections Against Pre-Existing Conditions

January 1: Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act designed to protect consumers go into effect. Insurers are now barred from discriminating against customers with pre-existing conditions, and they can no longer impose annual limits on coverage—both key advances for people living with HIV/AIDS.

January 2, 2014
‘Cured’ HIV Cancer Patients Relapse

News sources report that the two Boston patients believed to have been cured of HIV after undergoing treatment for cancer have relapsed

February 3, 2014
amfAR Launches $100 Million Research Initiative

amfAR announces the launch of Countdown to a Cure for AIDS, a $100 million research initiative aimed at finding a broadly applicable cure for HIV by 2020.

March 1, 2014
UN Commission Reports Challenges of Implementing MDGs

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women releases a report on the challenges and achievements of implementing the MDGs for women and girls.

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The Commission concludes that progress on MDG6 (Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases) has been limited, given that the number of women living with HIV globally continues to increase. The report notes several key challenges: adolescent/young women’s particular vulnerability to HIV; the need to increase access to healthcare services; and the challenges of structural gender inequalities, stigma, discrimination, and violence.

March 4, 2014
Initial Research Supports ‘Undetectable = Untransmittable’ Concept

European researchers announce the results of the first phase of the PARTNER Study, an observational study focusing on the risk of sexual HIV transmission when an HIV-positive person is on treatment.

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The study found that no HIV-positive partner who was undergoing antiretroviral therapy and had an undetectable viral load had transmitted HIV.

March 4, 2014
Dr. Debeorah Birx Becomes U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator

Dr. Deborah Birx is sworn in as Ambassador at Large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator to oversee the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). She replaces Dr. Eric Goosby.

March 24, 2014
1st African American & HIV-Positive Person Heads ONAP

Douglas Brooks is appointed as the new Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). He is the first African American and the first HIV-positive person to hold the position.

July 10, 2014
‘Mississippi Baby’ No Longer Undetectable

The National Institutes of Health announce that the “Mississippi baby” now has detectable levels of HIV after more than two years of showing no evidence of the virus.

July 20, 2014
AIDS 2014 Draws 14,000 Delegates

Nearly 14,000 delegates attend the 20th International AIDS Conference, travelling to Melbourne, Australia from over 200 nations.

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One key message of the conference is that a one-size-fits-all approach may not be suitable for all settings, especially given the diversity of the epidemic’s geographical hotspots and key populations.

Interventions and policies will require target-based strategies and greater support of key populations, especially in countries where discriminatory policies and legislation are hindering prevention and treatment efforts.

September 9, 2014
Southern States Become New U.S. Epicenter of HIV

The Pew Charitable Trust publishes Southern States Are Now Epicenter of HIV/AIDS in the U.S.

October 9, 2014
CDC Reports Care and Treatment of Latinos Lag

CDC releases a new report that finds gaps in care and treatment among Latinos diagnosed with HIV.

November 25, 2014
Only 30% of HIV-Positive People Have ‘Virus Under Control’

CDC announces that only 30% of Americans with HIV had the virus under control in 2011, and approximately two-thirds of those whose virus was out of control had been diagnosed but were no longer in care.

December 23, 2014
FDA Relaxes Ban on Blood Donations From MSM

FDA announces it will recommend changing the blood donor deferral guidelines for men who have sex with men from permanent deferral to one year since the last sexual contact.

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In 1983, the agency imposed a lifetime ban on donating blood for all men who have ever had sex with another man.

January 8, 2015
Injectable Contraceptive May Increase Women’s Risk of HIV

A review of multiple studies of South African women indicates that using Depo Provera, an injectable contraceptive, may increase women’s chances of contracting HIV by 40 percent.

February 5, 2015
HHS Project Address HIV Disparities Among MSM of Color

HHS announces the launch of a new, 4-year demonstration project to address HIV disparities among MSM of color. The cross-agency project, “Developing Comprehensive Models of HIV Prevention and Care Services for MSM of Color,” will support community-based models for HIV prevention and treatment.

February 23, 2015
CDC Report Identifies Groups with Disproportionate Levels of HIV

HIV diagnosis rates in the U.S. remain stable between 2009-2013, but men who have sex with men (MSM), young adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and individuals living in the South continue to bear a disproportionate burden of HIV, according to the Center for Disease Control’s 2015 DC’s annual HIV Surveillance Report.

February 23, 2015
CDC: More Than 90% of New Infections Preventable

CDC announces that more than 90% of new HIV infections in the U.S could be prevented by diagnosing people living with HIV and ensuring they receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment.

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Published by the CDC and subsequently in JAMA, the American Medical Association’s journal, a report by Jacek Skarbinski, M.D., and Eli Rosenberg, M.D. announces that persons living with HIV who are retained in care and have achieved viral suppression are 94.0% less likely to transmit HIV than HIV-infected undiagnosed persons.

“Unfortunately, too few persons living with HIV have achieved viral suppression,” the report concludes. “These estimates of the relative number of transmissions from persons along the HIV care continuum highlight the community-wide prevention benefits of expanding HIV diagnosis and treatment in the United States.”

The report recommends the implementation of improvements at each step of the continuum to reduce HIV transmission.

“Through stronger coordination of efforts among individuals, HIV care providers, health departments, and government agencies, the United States can realize meaningful gains in the number of persons living with HIV who are aware of their status, linked to and retained in care, receiving ART, and adherent to treatment,” state the researchers.

February 25, 2015
HIV Outbreak in Indiana Tied to Injection Drug Use

Indiana state health officials announce an HIV outbreak linked to injection drug use in the southeastern portion of the state. By the end of the year, Indiana will confirm 184 new cases of HIV linked to the outbreak.

April 15, 2015
NIH Launches Study of Heart Disease Among HIV+

NIH launches a large, multicenter, international clinical trial to study heart disease in people living with HIV, who are up to twice as likely as HIV-negative individuals to have heart attacks and other forms of cardiovascular disease.

May 8, 2015
HHS Further Loosens Restrictions on Organ Transplants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announces on May 8 that it will amend the Federal rules covering organ transplants to allow the recovery of transplantable organs from HIV-positive donors.

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The new regulations will provide a framework for clinical studies on transplanting organs from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients.

May 27, 2015
START Study Shows Reduced Risk of AIDS

Results from the Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment (START) study indicate that HIV-positive individuals who start taking antiretroviral drugs before their CD4+ cell counts decrease have a considerably lower risk of developing AIDS or other serious illnesses.

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Subsequent data releases show that early therapy for people living with HIV also prevents the onset of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other non-AIDS-related diseases.

June 30, 2015
Cuba Eliminates Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

The World Health Organization certifies that Cuba is the first nation to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of both HIV and syphilis.

July 14, 2015
UNAIDS Announce Millennium Development Goal Achieved Early

UNAIDS announces that the targets for Millennium Development Goal #6 —halting and reversing the spread of HIV—have been achieved and exceeded 9 months ahead of the schedule set in 2000.

July 18, 2015
U.S. Agencies Collaborate on Housing Assistance Programs

The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Justice announce they will collaborate on a demonstration project to provide housing assistance and supportive services to low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking.

July 20, 2015
Study Shows Effectiveness of Antiretrovirals in Preventing Transmission

Researchers report that antiretroviral therapy is highly effective at preventing sexual transmission of HIV from a person living with HIV to an uninfected heterosexual partner, when the HIV-positive partner is virally suppressed. The finding comes from the decade-long HPTN 052 clinical trial.

July 23, 2015
FDA Approves Test Differentiating Between HIV-1 & HIV-2

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the first diagnostic test that differentiates between different types of HIV infections (HIV-1 and HIV-2). The test can also differentiate between acute and established HIV infections.

July 30, 2015
White House Announces National HIV/AIDS Strategy Update

The White House launches the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020.

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The updated Strategy retains the vision and goals of the original, but reflects scientific advances, transformations in healthcare access as a result of the Affordable Care Act, and a renewed emphasis on key populations, geographic areas, and practices necessary to end the domestic HIV epidemic.

September 26, 2015
New PEPFAR Targets Released at UN Summit

At a United Nations summit on the Sustainable Development Goals, the United States announces new PEPFAR prevention and treatment targets for 2016–2017.

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By the end of 2017, the U.S. will commit sufficient resources to support antiretroviral therapy for 12.9 million people, provide 13 million male circumcisions for HIV prevention, and reduce HIV incidence by 40% among adolescent girls and young women within the highest burdened areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries.

September 30, 2015
WHO Announces New Treatment Recommendations

The World Health Organization announces new treatment recommendations that call for all people living with HIV to begin antiretroviral therapy as soon after diagnosis as possible.

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WHO also recommends daily oral PrEP as an additional prevention choice for those at substantial risk for contracting HIV. WHO estimates the new policies could help avert more than 21 million deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030.

October 20, 2015
New Campaign Targets Women at Risk of Violence and HIV

Greater Than AIDS launches a new campaign, Empowered: Women, HIV and Intimate Partner Violence, to bring more attention to issues of relationship violence and provide resources for women who may be at risk of, or dealing with, abuse and HIV.

November 15, 2015
amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research at UCSF Established

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, announces its plan to establish the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research at the University of California, San Francisco. As the cornerstone of amfAR’s $100 million investment in cure research, the Institute will work to develop the scientific basis for an HIV cure by the end of 2020.

November 17, 2015
Actor Charlie Sheen Announces HIV-Positive Status

Actor Charlie Sheen announces his HIV-positive status in a nationally televised interview. Significant public conversation about HIV follows his disclosure. Earlier in the year, rapper, performance artist, and poet Mykki Blanco took to Facebook to disclose his HIV status, and former child TV star Danny Pintauro told Oprah that he is living with HIV.

November 24, 2015
UNAIDS: Nearly 16 Million Accessing Retroviral Treatment

UNAIDS releases its 2015 World AIDS Day report which finds that 15.8 million people were accessing antiretroviral treatment as of June 2015—more than doubling the number of people who were on treatment in 2010.

December 1, 2015
White House Releases Federal Action Plan on HIV/AIDS

The White House releases a Federal Action Plan to accompany the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The plan was developed by 10 Federal agencies and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and contains 170 action items that the agencies will undertake to achieve the goals of the Strategy.

December 6, 2015
HIV Diagnoses Drop 19% from 2005 to 2014

CDC announces that annual HIV diagnoses in the U.S. fell by 19% from 2005 to 2014. There were steep declines among heterosexuals, people who inject drugs, and African Americans (especially black women), but trends for gay/bisexual men varied by race/ethnicity.

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Diagnoses among white gay/bisexual men decreased by 18%, but they continued to rise among Latino gay/bisexual men and were up 24%. Diagnoses among black gay/bisexual men also increased (22%), but the increase has leveled off since 2010.

December 19, 2015
Congress Lifts Restrictions on Needle Exchange Programs

Partly in response to the HIV outbreak in Indiana, which is linked to people injecting drugs, Congress lifts restrictions that prevented states and localities from spending Federal funds for needle exchange programs.

December 21, 2015
FDA Lifts Ban on Blood Donations From MSM

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announces it will lift its 30-year-old ban on all blood donations by men who have sex with men and institute a policy that allows them to donate blood if they have not had sexual contact with another man in the previous 12 months.

January 19, 2016
Only 20% of Sexually Active High School Students Test for HIV

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that only 1 in 5 sexually active high school students has been tested for HIV. An estimated 50% of young Americans who are living with HIV do not know they are infected.

January 28, 2016
Researchers Report Increasing Resistance to Tenofovir

Researchers announce that an international study of over 1,900 patients with HIV who failed to respond to the antiretroviral drug tenofovir—a key HIV treatment medication—indicates that HIV resistance to the medication is becoming increasingly common.

February 25, 2016
First Report of HIV Infection Despite Truvada

At the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), researchers report that a man taking the HIV-prevention pill Truvada® has contracted HIV—marking the first reported infection of someone regularly taking the drug.

March 3, 2016
White House and NIH Meet to Address HIV Stigma

The White House Office of National AIDS Policy, the NIH Office of AIDS Research, and the National Institute of Mental Health cohost a meeting to address the issue of HIV stigma: Translating Research to Action: Reducing HIV Stigma to Optimize HIV Outcomes.

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Participants include researchers, policymakers, legal scholars, faith leaders, advocates, and people living with HIV.

March 3, 2016
Researchers Report Differences in Truvada Dosage Between Men & Women

Pharmacy researchers report finding that women need daily doses of the antiviral medication Truvada® to prevent HIV infection, while men only need two doses per week due to differences in the way the drug accumulates in vaginal, cervical and rectal tissue.

March 29, 2016
HHS Releases Guidelines for Funding to Support SSPs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services releases new guidance for state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments that will allow them to request permission to use federal funds to support syringe-services programs (SSPs).

Learn More.

The funds can now be used to support a comprehensive set of services, but they cannot be used to purchase sterile needles or syringes for illegal drug injection.

May 12, 2016
NIH Announces HIV Vaccine Trial in South Africa

The National Institutes of Health and partners announce they will launch a large HIV vaccine trial in South Africa in November 2016, pending regulatory approval. This represents the first time since 2009 that the scientific community has embarked on an HIV vaccine clinical trial of this size.

June 8, 2016
LGBT Groups Blocked from Participation in UN Meeting

The UN holds its 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS. UN member states pledge to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, but the meeting is marked by controversy after more than 50 nations block the participation of groups representing LGBT people from the meeting. The final resolution barely mentions those most at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS: men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people and people who inject drugs.

September 11, 2016
Actress Alexis Arquette Dies

Transgender trailblazer Alexis Arquette dies at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles of AIDS-related illness at the age of 47.

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Arquette was born into an acting family that includes siblings David, Rosanna, and Patricia, the latter who would famously memorialize her sister in a speech at the 2019 Emmy Awards.

In the earlier years of her career, Arquette primarily performed as a female impersonator, frequently under the name “Eva Destruction.”  She debuted on the big screen in 1986 in an uncredited role as Alexis, the androgynous bandmate of Max Whiteman (Evan Richards) inDown and Out in Beverly Hills.  Arquette would go on to star in more than 40 movies, the majority of them low-budget or independent films.

Diagnosed with HIV in 1989, Arquette chronicled her gender affirmation surgery in a 2007 documentary, Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother, but returned to presenting as a man in 2013 as her health failed.

In her final hours, Arquette is surrounded by her famous brothers and sisters.  Alexis had left specific instructions for her death: David Bowie’s “Starman” was to play as her final moments approached.

And when the final breath passed her lips, she asked that everyone cheer “the moment that [s]he transitioned to another dimension,” reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Her family would go on to found the Alexis Arquette Family Foundation, which works with the LA County / USC Medical Center to provide medical and mental health support to LGBTQ residents in the county.

December 27, 2016
APLA Founder Matt Redman Dies

Matt Redman, one of the cofounders of AIDS Project Los Angeles, dies at the age of 66. Instrumental in spurring the LA community to action during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Redman dedicated his life to the fight against HIV.

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Redman began his HIV/AIDS advocacy work in 1982, when he helped to create the first hotline in Los Angeles to share verified medical information about the disease.  In early 1983, he would found AIDS Project Los Angeles with Nancy Cole Sawaya, Max Drew, and Ervin Munro.

In the beginning, APLA had five clients, which would grow to 100 by the end of the year, and by the middle of 1984, APLA would serve 200 clients — and the numbers kept growing.  Redman served on APLA’s Board of Directors and volunteered throughout the years.

Redman also served on the Board of Directors for the Federation of AIDS-Related Organizations (later renamed AIDS United).  He was honored in June 2015 by the LA City Council during LGBT Heritage Month for his work to advance equality.

Redman apparently started feeling ill in mid-December and cancelled a party planned for Dec. 18, according to journalist Karen Ocamb in The Pride.  After a friend begged him to see a doctor, Redman went to the emergency room at Southern California Hospital at Culver City and was immediately rushed to Urgent Care.

An upper respiratory infection had traveled to his heart and lungs, and medical personnel determined he didn’t have enough T-cells to fight the infection.  He “coded” and was placed on life support while his family and former partner were notified and flew in to be with him in his last moments.

January 14, 2017
Gates Foundation Announces Investment in Implants to Deliver Medication

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announces that it will invest $140 million in a new HIV-prevention tool. The funds will go to develop implants that can deliver HIV-prevention medication continuously over a long period of time—eliminating the need for people to take daily preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

May 2, 2017
CDC Reports Significant Decline in Death Rates in African Americans

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports significant declines in HIV/AIDS death rates for black/African Americans between 1999-2015. Among those aged 18-34, HIV-related deaths drop 80%, and among those aged 35, deaths drop by 79%.

June 6, 2017
America’s Black MSM Show Higher HIV Prevalence of Any Nation

The New York Times reports that, as a group, America’s black gay and bisexual men have a higher HIV prevalence rate than any nation in the world.

August 27, 2017
Muslim American Faith Organizations Promote Public Stand Against Stigma

Muslim-American organization RAHMA (Arabic for “mercy”) launches the first national Faith HIV & AIDS Awareness Day.

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The goal is to rally U.S. faith communities (including Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and Baha’i) to take a public stand against stigma in their congregations and raise awareness of HIV and AIDS.

September 9, 2017
Broadway Composer-Lyricist Michael Friedman Dies

Broadway composer and lyricist Michael Friedman dies of AIDS-related illness at age 41. He is best known for his work on the play Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. His death is a shocking reminder to many that HIV continues to be deadly—even for well-to-do, white men with good health insurance.

October 7, 2017
California Govornor Signs Bill Reducing Penalties for Non-Disclosure of HIV Status

With the support of the public health community, California governor Jerry Brown signs a bill decreasing the penalty for knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV or donating blood without disclosing the infection from a felony to a misdemeanor.

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These laws discouraged people from getting tested and into treatment. The new law takes a public health approach and recognizes the current understanding that with treatment with HIV medicine, people with HIV have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to others.

November 6, 2017
Harvard Honors Elton John as Humanitarian of the Year

Harvard University awards singer and HIV activist Elton John its Humanitarian of the Year Award . Since 1992, the Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised more than $385 million to support HIV/AIDS-related programming around the world.

November 12, 2017
Performance Artist & HIV Educator Antron-Reshaud Olukayode Dies

Atlanta performance artist, writer, and HIV educator Antron-Reshaud Olukayode dies of AIDS-related illness at age 33. Olukayode had participated in CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign.

December 4, 2017
Gilead Announces Initiative to Address Epidemic in U.S. South

Gilead Sciences announces the launch of the Commitment to Partnership in Addressing HIV/AIDS in Southern States (COMPASS) Initiative, a 10-year, $100 million commitment to support organizations working to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States.

January 15, 2018
AIDS Pioneer Dr. Mathilde Krim Dies at Age 91

Dr. Mathilde Krim, a geneticist and virologist who turned from studying cancer to studying AIDS, dies at age 91 . She started the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983, and then became the founding chairwoman of the Foundation for AIDS Research in 1985.

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She raised hundreds of millions of dollars for AIDS research, prevention, treatment, and advocacy. In announcing her passing, The New York Times calls her “America’s foremost warrior in the battle against superstitions, fears and prejudices that have stigmatized many people with AIDS.”

Dr. Krim, a geneticist and virologist, as well as an advocate, has a long history of notable contributions to science and social justice.

After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Geneva in 1953, she studied cytogenetics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.  Six years later, she moved to New York and made a name for herself as a researcher of cancer-causing viruses. But in the early 1980s, her focus turned to a growing epidemic that almost no one else had yet sought to address.

Less than a year after the publishing of a 1982 paper in which the disease was first called by that name, Dr. Krim founded the AIDS Medical Foundation, the first privately funded AIDS research organization, which originally operated out of a storage room in her husband’s Manhattan office.

The stigma at that time was overwhelming: A former staff member recalls that “The mail guy was scared to come up to our office because it said ‘AIDS’ on our envelopes [which often contained hate mail anyway].”

AmfAR credits Dr. Krim as being a pivotal figure in moving Washington to belatedly provide significant funding for both research and treatment regarding the epidemic, after nearly a decade of neglect.

AmfAR grew out of Dr. Krim’s collaboration with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, who in New York in the early 1980s pioneered a community-based approach to studying and responding to AIDS. With other allies, they formed the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983, which two years later merged with a California-based group to form amfAR.

In addition to her scientific credentials and her impassioned advocacy, Dr. Krim also brought a connection to New York society life and its deep pockets, with her marriage to Arthur B. Krim, an entertainment lawyer who had chaired both United Artists and Orion Pictures. Dr. Krim was able to bring on board Elizabeth Taylor, who became the group’s founding international chair and lent Hollywood glamour and universal visibility to an epidemic that in its earliest years was ignored by public officials and other leading figures .

In 2006, ACT UP Founder Larry Kramer said of Dr. Krim, “One can only be filled with overpowering awe and gratitude that such a person has lived among us.”

January 24, 2018
NIH Launches Study of Antiretrovirals & Pregnant Women

The National Institutes of Health launches a large international study to compare the safety and efficacy of antiretroviral treatment regimens for pregnant women living with HIV and their infants.

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It will provide data on the use of newer HIV medications during pregnancy, helping to ensure that women living with HIV and their infants receive the best available treatments.

January 28, 2018
PEPFAR Turns 15, Celebrates Worldwide Impact

PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) celebrates its 15th anniversary.

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When PEPFAR began in 2003, only 50,000 people in Africa were on lifesaving HIV treatment.  At the time, it was the largest commitment ever by any nation to address a single disease.

PEPFAR has grown to supports over 14 million people on treatment globally.

“Over the past 15 years, PEPFAR has transformed the impossible into the possible by rapidly accelerating access to lifesaving HIV prevention and treatment services,” says Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. “We have not only saved more than 14 million mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons, but also accelerated global progress toward ending AIDS as a public health threat.”

In this video, one of PEPFAR’s first treatment recipients, John Robert Engole from Uganda tells his remarkable story of survival thanks to PEPFAR’s lifesaving programs.

April 16, 2018
Singer Conchita Announces HIV-Positive Status

After a former boyfriend threatens to blackmail her over her HIV status, Austrian singer and Eurovision winner Conchita tells her fans that she is HIV-positive.

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In a press statement, she notes that she has been in treatment and virally suppressed for many years, and says “I hope to show courage and take another step against the stigmatization of people with HIV.”

May 3, 2018
Research Shows ART Key to Avoiding Brain Atrophy

An international research team finds that early antiretroviral therapy (ART) is key to avoiding brain atrophy for people living with HIV . Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data, researchers found that the longer people living with HIV went without treatment, the greater the atrophy in several brain regions.

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Once patients began ART, the atrophy stopped and some brain volume and was restored—demonstrating the importance of early screening and ART initiation.

2018
G8 Nations Announce New Commitments to Global Fund

The “Group of Eight” (G8) Summit includes a special focus on HIV/AIDS and announcements of new commitments to the Global Fund. G8 members make up most of the world’s largest economies and include: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

June 11, 2018
Study Shows Impact of Early Antiretroviral Therapy on Cancer Prevention

In the first study to focus specifically on the effect of sustained viral suppression on overall cancer risk, researchers find that early, sustained antiretroviral therapy resulting in long-term viral suppression helps to prevent AIDS-defining cancers and—to a lesser degree—other cancers for people living with HIV.

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But the long-term study (1999-2015), which followed nearly 150,000 veterans, also found that patients with long-term viral suppression still had excess cancer risk compared to HIV-negative patients.

June 28, 2018
Online HIV-Prevention Program Targets MSM Aged 18-29

In a Northwestern University study, a novel online HIV-prevention program is shown to reduce sexually transmitted infections by 40%.

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Targeting young men who have sex with men (MSM) between the ages of 18-29, the program, “Keep It Up,” offers video clips, soap operas, and interactive games.  It’s the first online HIV-prevention program to record results of a biological outcome.

A month later, the National Institutes of Health would award Northwestern’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing with an $8.8 million grant to put its research into practice.

Keep It Up! continues to build its program.  So far, it has been delivered to over 1,500 young men in several major cities.  The program is preparing to bring KIU! to 44 counties across the U.S., and plans to reach at least 4,000 young men in the next few years.

 

July 18, 2018
Studies Show HIV-Positive People Suffer from Heart Disease at 2x Rate

A global analysis finds that people living with HIV are twice as likely as their HIV-negative counterparts to suffer from heart disease.

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Based on a review of studies with almost 800,000 people from 153 countries, an international team of experts finds that HIV-associated cardiovascular disease has more than tripled in the past 20 years as more people live longer with the virus.

The greatest impact is in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia Pacific regions, with Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho particularly affected.

Researchers say the findings will help to target treatments to people facing the greatest risk, helping to maximize resources in countries with limited healthcare funding.

August 1, 2018
Computer Simulation Predicts Transmission Patterns Across Populations

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory demonstrate that computer simulations can accurately predict the transmission of HIV across populations.

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The simulations are consistent with 840,000 actual HIV DNA sequences contained in a global public HIV database, according to the study published in Nature Microbiology.

The simulations could allow state health departments to track the spread of HIV and provide a powerful new tool to help prevent new HIV infections.

“We looked for special genetic patterns that we had seen in the simulations, and we can confirm that these patterns also hold for real data covering the entire epidemic,” said Thomas Leitner, a computational biologist at Los Alamos and lead author of the study.

HIV is particularly interesting to study in this manner, Leitner noted, as the virus mutates rapidly and constantly within each infected individual.  The changing “genetic signatures” of its code provide a path that researchers can follow in determining the origin and time frame of an infection, and the computer simulations are now proven to be successful in tracking and predicting the virus’s movements through populations.

September 7, 2018
HHS Collects Community Input for Updating HIV/AIDS Policy

Community leaders, frontline workers, individuals living with and at risk for infection, and other members of the community from across the nation provide input to leaders from the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy.

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Operating under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy hosted its first “listening session” at the 2018 U.S. Conference on AIDS in Orlando, Florida.

The call for input was part of the HHS plan to receive ideas on priorities and issues to be addressed as it begins work to update the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, both of which are set to expire in 2020.

Joined by colleagues from the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, the listening session was convened at a special event during the U.S. Conference on AIDS.  Among the many comments offered during the session, the HHS staff heard about:

  • The importance of addressing housing, incarceration, and other social determinants of health;
  • The need to be strategic in the scale-up PrEP;
  • Concerns that issues of aging and HIV be addressed;
  • Concerns that adequate funding be provided to enact strategies contained in updated plans;
  • The importance of focusing on HIV and hepatitis disparities if we are to end the epidemics;
  • Expectations that funding and support for programs currently in place will be continued, particularly the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program; and
  • A desire for new forms of accountability for progress.
U equals U
September 28, 2018
Thai Study Confirms U=U Message

A study of MSM in Thailand finds that having a sexually transmitted infection does not affect the ability of people living with HIV to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load, confirming the generalizability of the “Undetectable = Untransmittable” (U=U ) message.

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Months earlier, UNAIDS launched its “Undetectable = Untransmittable” campaign to spread the message that people living with HIV with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.

UNAIDS’s campaign is supported by the results of three large studies of sexual HIV transmission among thousands of couples, one partner of which was living with HIV and the other was not, were undertaken between 2007 and 2016. In those studies, there was not a single case of sexual transmission of HIV from a virally suppressed person living with HIV to their HIV-negative partner.

 

October 17, 2018
Australian Study Links Diagnosis Reduction to PrEP

A research study finds that a targeted, high-coverage roll-out of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is associated with a 25% reduction in new HIV diagnoses in one year.

Learn More.

The study followed 3,700 MSM in New South Wales, Australia, who were taking PrEP with high levels of adherence.

As the first empirical study to test PrEP’s population-level effectiveness, the program found that HIV infections declined in the study cohort and also statewide in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales.

The report concludes that rapid, targeted, high-coverage PrEP implementation is effective to reduce new HIV infections at the population level.

Less than a year later, Andrew Grulich, MD, head of the HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program at the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, would present follow-up data supporting the initial study at the 10th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science in Mexico City.

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November 20, 2018
Independent Medical Group Recommends PrEP for High-Risk Individuals

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, recommends clinicians to offer PrEP (preexposure prophylaxis) to individuals at high risk for HIV infection.

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The Task Force gives its “A” recommendation — the strongest endorsement it can give — to PrEP, stating that when taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV among those at high risk, and concluding with “high certainty” that there is a substantial benefit to the target population.

In June 2019, the Task Force would upgrade its draft recommendatin to a “Final Recommendation Statement” and present its supporting evidence in a separate report issued to governmental agencies.

December 1, 2018
30th Anniversary of World AIDS Day

The date marks the 30th anniversary of the observance of World AIDS Day.

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The World Health Organization joins its global partners to commemorate World AIDS Day under the theme “Know Your Status.” The occasion is celebrated as the 30-year anniversary of a pioneering global health campaign first initiated by WHO in 1988.

2019
NIH Develops Tool to Measure HIV Cure Strategies

Scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health develop a tool to measure the success of HIV cure strategies.

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The tool accurately and easily counts the cells that make up the HIV reservoir, the stubborn obstacle to an HIV cure. This advance enables researchers who are trying to eliminate the HIV reservoir to clearly understand whether their strategies are working.

February 5, 2019
President Trump Announces Goal to End HIV Epidemic in 10 Years

In his State of the Union address, President Donald J. Trump announces his administration’s goal to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. by 2030.

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The proposed Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America will leverage new biomedical prevention and treatment options and data to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the U.S. by 75% in five years and by 90% by 2030, said Brett P. Giroir, M.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Health.

“In short, we will diagnose all people as early as possible, treat rapidly and effectively, protect those at highest risk, respond to any outbreaks with an overwhelming force, and we’re going to create a public health workforce throughout this country with a specific goal of reducing new diagnoses by 75% within 5 years and 90% within 10,” Giroir said.

Experts on the subject expressed skepticism of the strategy based on the administration’s attitude toward HIV/AIDS thus far.

“This pledge is nothing more than an empty gesture following a series of actions that have ignored the needs of the communities most affected by HIV,” said Scott Schoettes, HIV project director at civil rights group Lambda Legal.

Claiming the Trump administration had left HIV risk groups more exposed, activists pointed to actions including cutting funding for health research, working to roll back healthcare for vulnerable groups and offering support for medical staff who to refuse to treat LGBT+ patients on religious grounds.

“President Trump once again presented a broad strokes narrative that people with HIV and AIDS, including LGBTQ Americans, simply can’t trust,” tweeted Sarah Kate Ellis, chief executive of U.S. LGBT+ advocacy organisation GLAAD.

“The only way our world could end HIV transmissions and prioritize proper treatment and prevention is through an exhaustive, across-the-board investment, but President Trump’s words do not back up his administration’s actions.”

February 7, 2019
NIH Examines PrEP & Vaginal Ring to Protect Girls in Southern Africa

In a response to rising rates of infection among adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa, the National Institutes of Health announces the launch of a clinical trial with girls and young women aged 16–21 at five sites in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe

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The research project seeks to examine the safety and use of two HIV prevention tools — PrEP and a vaginal ring — for young women and girls under the title “REACH” (Reversing the Epidemic in Africa with Choices in HIV prevention).

One in four new infections in sub-Saharan Africa were women and girls aged 15-24 – despite making up 10% of the population.

“Women in less-developed countries disproportionately bear the burden in terms of ill health when facing food insecurity or a shock or disaster like drought that impacts the ability to get food or harvest food,” said Kelly Austin, associate professor of sociology at Lehigh University.

Essentially, lack of resources can lead to sexual assault, marriages of economic necessity and the resultant transmission of HIV.

Conducted for 1.5 years, the study would go on to show that the vast majority (97%) of the 247 participants used the vaginal ring and daily oral PrEP some or all of the time.  Fewer than 3% of participants would use neither of the products, according to laboratory tests for adherence.

“In many ways, these results exceeded even our own expectations, yet at the same time, it’s not surprising to find that these young women have the capacity and desire to protect themselves against HIV,” explains Gonasagrie (Lulu) Nair, MBChB, MPH, REACH protocol chair, Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, Faculty of Medicine, at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.  “They simply need to feel empowered and have the agency to make choices based on what they feel is right for them.”

 

March 4, 2019
‘London Patient’ Reportedly Second to be Cured of HIV

At the 2019 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, researchers announce the second cure of a person with HIV.

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According to the case report published in Nature, an HIV patient in London has successfully received stem cell transplants of CCR5-delta 32, a rare genetic mutation that appears to make a small number of people resistant to HIV by preventing the virus from attacking the immune system.

The patient was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012, which led his doctors to suggest gene therapy to create healthy blood cells. Since receiving the treatment, he has stopped taking antiretroviral medications and his body has reportedly been free of the virus for the past 18 months.

The patient, who is not named, is the second person to have successfully received such treatment. The first was Timothy Brown, a.k.a. the “Berlin Patient,” who made headlines in 2008 when he received a similar bone marrow transplant.

March 18, 2019
As Gaps in Testing & Treatment Slow Progress, CDC Corrects Course

Of the new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2016, the vast majority — about 80% — were transmitted from the nearly 40% of people with HIV who either did not know they had HIV, or who received a diagnosis but were not receiving HIV care.

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Published on the first day of CDC’s 2019 National HIV Prevention Conference, the Vital Signs report provides the latest data on the impact of undiagnosed and untreated HIV in the U.S.

The report underscores the critical need to expand HIV testing and treatment.  A critical part of the proposed “Ending the HIV Epidemic – A Plan for America,” the proposed initiative would strive to end the HIV epidemic in 10 years by focusing first on the geographic areas with the greatest HIV burden, before expanding to reach all areas of the nation affected by HIV.

March 25, 2019
HIV-to-HIV Kidney Transplant Performed Successfully

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, perform the first living donor HIV-to-HIV kidney transplant in the U.S.  The ability to use organs from living HIV-positive individuals could increase the supply available for transplant.

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Nina Martinez, 35, is the living donor. She donated her kidney to an anonymous recipient after the friend she had hoped to give it to died last fall. Martinez acquired HIV when she was 6 weeks old through a blood transfusion and was diagnosed at age 8.

“I wanted to show that people living with HIV were just as healthy.” Martinez says in a news conference held to announce the medical break-through. “Someone needed that kidney, even if it was a kidney with HIV. I very simply wanted to show that I was just like anybody else.”

Martinez first learned of the opportunity for her to donate a kidney in 2013, when the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (HOPE Act) passed in Congress.  Yet, until she saw a storyline on the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy a few months later, she didn’t realize where her own life would intersect with kidney donation.

The HOPE Act was introduced on February 14, 2013, in the Senate by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Rand Paul (R-KY) and in the House by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA).  The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent, and about six months later, the House passed it by unanimous consent.

The doctors at Johns Hopkins say the recipient is doing well.

“This is the first time someone living with HIV has been allowed to donate a kidney, ever, in the nation, and that’s huge,” says Dorry Segev, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins.  “A disease that was a death sentence in the 1980s has become one so well-controlled that those living with HIV can now save lives with kidney donation — that’s incredible.”

 

May 9, 2019
Truvada Maker Donates Medication for 11-Year Program

Gilead Sciences, maker the only drug approved to prevent HIV infection, will donate enough Truvada to supply 200,000 patients annually for up to 11 years, U.S. health officials announce.

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Truvada is taken once daily to prevent infection with HIV, a strategy called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). An estimated one million Americans are at risk for infection and should be taking the medication, but only about 270,000 are doing so.

HIV activists and experts had mixed reactions to the news.  Some pointed out that the corporate donation with a value estimated in the billions of dollars would fill only 20% of the need in the U.S.

Critics say that the high cost of Truvada ($2,000 a month) has been called a major barrier to stemming the spread of HIV among low-income Americans, and it’s part of the reason the AIDS epidemic has persisted for so long.

“If we don’t make it possible for those that need it to have access to it, we will continue to have new infections of a completely preventable virus,” said Jaasiel Chapman, clinical research community educator at the University of Cincinnati.

While most insurers cover treatment with the pill, patients can get stuck with out-of-pocket costs that make the medicine unaffordable.

“If there is any example of the dysfunction in the American pharmaceutical system, it is this case,” says James Krellenstein, a member of ACT UP New York. “We have the most effective tool for ending the HIV epidemic, and one reason we’re unable to scale up is because it costs so [much] unnecessarily.”

Upon announcing the Gilead Sciences donation, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II said,“Securing this commitment is a major step in the Trump Administration’s efforts to use the prevention and treatment tools we have to end the HIV epidemic in America by 2030.”

May 19, 2019
‘LATITUDE’ Evaluates Long-Acting ART as Alternative Treatment

The National Institutes of Health announces the launch of a clinical trial to evaluate long-acting ART (antiretroviral therapy) for maintaining HIV suppression in people who find it a challenge to take the medication daily in pill form.

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The study, called Long-Acting Therapy to Improve Treatment Success in Daily Life, or LATITUDE, will help determine whether a combination of two experimental injectable formulations of ART are better than conventional daily medications in managing HIV infection in this population.

The purpose of this study, supported by funding from  is to compare the efficacy, safety, and durability of two different strategies to treat participants with a history of sub-optimal adherence and control of their HIV infection: long-acting antiretroviral therapy (ART) and all-oral standard of care (SOC).

LATITUDE seeks to enroll approximately 350 volunteers with documented treatment lapses within the past 18 months. All study participants will begin a daily oral ART regimen and individualized adherence and retention support. Volunteers who become virally suppressed by week 24 will then be randomized to either continue standard-of-care therapy for one year or begin an oral regimen consisting of RPV and CAB for 4 weeks, followed by long-acting injectable formulations of those drugs every 4 weeks for 48 weeks.

After this 52-week period, participants originally randomized to the standard-of-care arm may cross over to long-acting therapy, and participants originally randomized to the long-acting therapy arm may remain on that regimen for an additional year.

The University of California San Francisco HIV/Aids Center and the University of California Los Angeles CARE Center are two of many research institutions participating in this study.

June 11, 2019
Medical Group Issues ‘Grade A’ Recommendation for PrEP & HIV Testing

An independent, non-governmental medical organization publishes its recommendation for extensive HIV screening and HIV prevention, including a “Grade A” designation for PrEP treatment.

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In its final recommendation statement, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force urges clinicians to screen for HIV in everyone aged 15 to 65 years and all pregnant people.  In addition, younger adolescents and older adults at increased risk for HIV should also be screened.

The Task Force additionally recommends that clinicians offer PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to people at high risk of HIV.

In its report, the Task Force notes that while HIV infection rates have been going down, rates among some groups are on the rise, most notably among young adults.

Created in 1984, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve the health of people nationwide by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.

The Task Force makes recommendations about the effectiveness of specific preventive care services for patients without obvious related signs or symptoms.  It bases its recommendations on the evidence of both the benefits and harms of the service and an assessment of the balance. The Task Force does not consider the costs of providing a service in this assessment.

October 21, 2019
Presidential Advisory Council Focuses on Latinx Community

The 65th meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) is held in Miami, Florida, with a focus on HIV in the Latinx community and the response to HIV in Florida and Puerto Rico.

November 19, 2019
Life Expectancy Increases for Persons with HIV Infection

A new study shows that the age-adjusted rate of HIV-related deaths in the U.S. fell by nearly half from 2010 to 2017, suggesting that treatment programs have been successful in extending the lives of people with HIV.

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The study published by the Centers for Disease Control shows that deaths among persons with diagnosed HIV decreased, primarily because of decreases in HIV-related deaths.

Life expectancy for persons with HIV infection who receive recommended treatment can approach that of the general population, yet HIV remains among the 10 leading causes of death among certain populations. Using surveillance data, CDC reseachers were able to determine that progress is being made toward reducing deaths among persons with diagnosed HIV.

During 2010–2017, HIV-related death rates decreased 48.4% (from 9.1 to 4.7 per 1,000 people), whereas non–HIV-related death rates decreased 8.6% (from 9.3 to 8.5 per 1,000 people).

The report also noted that rates of HIV-related deaths during 2017 were highest by race/ethnicity among persons of multiple races (7.0) and Black/African American persons (5.6), followed by White persons (3.9) and Hispanic/Latino persons (3.9).  The HIV-related death rate was highest in the South (6.0) and lowest in the Northeast (3.2).

The researchers conclude that early diagnosis, prompt treatment, and maintaining access to high-quality care and treatment have been successful in reducing HIV-related deaths and remain necessary for continuing reductions in HIV-related deaths.

December 3, 2019
Progress Stalls as New Infection Rate Stabilizes

The dramatic decline in annual HIV infections has stopped and new infections have stabilized in recent years, according to a CDC report.

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The report provides the results of a CDC analysis of HIV trends in America from 2010 to 2016 and shows that after about five years of substantial declines, the number of HIV infections began to level off in 2013 at about 39,000 infections per year.

The data analysis suggests that the number of new HIV infections remained stable from 2013 (38,500) to 2017 (37,500).  However, in 2017, an estimated 85.8% of infections were diagnosed.

The CDC researchers conclude that accelerated efforts to diagnose, treat, and prevent HIV infection are needed in order to achieve the U.S. goal of at least 90% reduction in the number of new HIV infections by 2030.

December 3, 2019
‘Ready-Set-PrEP’ Expands Access to Uninsured Patients

The Ready, Set, PrEP program is launched in the U.S. to provide free HIV-prevention medications to thousands of people who don’t have adequate health insurance coverage for prescription drugs.

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Funded by the Department of Health and Human Service, Ready, Set, PrEP expands access to PrEP medications to those unable to afford it.

HHS estimates the number of people who could benefit from PrEP medications at more than 1 million, but less than one-third of them are taking it as prescribed.   This program is still active; to apply, click here.

December 11, 2019
Report Shows Success of Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

Clients receiving medical care through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program were virally suppressed at a record level – 87% – in 2018, according to a new report by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

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Serving more than half a million people each year. the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) was created in 1990 and currently is funded annually at more than $2 billion.

HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is divided into five parts:

  • Part A funds medical and support services to counties/cities that are the most severely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic:
  • Part B administers funds for states to improve the quality, availability, and organization of HIV health care and support services, and includes grants for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program:
  • Part C administers funds for community-based organizations to provide comprehensive primary health care and support services in an outpatient setting for people with HIV through Early Intervention Services program grants;
  • Part D administers funds for community-based organizations to provide outpatient, ambulatory, family-centered primary and specialty medical care for women, infants, children and youth with HIV; and
  • Part F funds support clinician training, dental services, and dental provider training, as well as the development of innovative models of care to improve health outcomes and reduce HIV transmission.

In a comprehensive review of federal data, the HRSA report includes information reported for all clients served by RWHAP Parts A–D during from 2014 through 2018.  The report provides a hopeful look at the challenges of reaching populations that are sometimes living at or below 100% of the federal poverty line (32% of clients), lacking in healthcare coverage (20%) and housing that is temporary or unstable (13%).

April 28, 2020
Funding Supports Programs to Address Stigma, Provide Treatment for Black Women

Through its HIV/AIDS Bureau, the U.S. expands funding opportunities for service organizations working on initiatives related to HIV stigma reduction, implementing rapid ART initiation, and improving care and treatment for black women with HIV.

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The HIV/AIDS Bureau, which operates under the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, announces five Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) for HIV programs. All five NOFOs are supported by the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund and advance the goals of the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative.

August 17, 2020
U.S. Launches HIV Data Dashboard, Charts Local Progress

The HIV Data Dashboard provides public, comprehensive information on national and jurisdictional data, allowing national, state, and local stakeholders to track progress towards meeting goals to reduce HIV transmission.

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Created by the Health and Human Services Department, AHEAD: America’s HIV Epidemic Analysis Dashboard supports the tracking of goals related to the six indicators for the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative:

  • Reduction of new HIV infections in the U.S. by 75% by 2025 and by 90% by 2030;
  • Demonstration of the historical movement towards achieving the overall goals of the EHE initiative;
  • Diagnosis (number of people with HIV diagnosed in a given year confirmed by laboratory or clinical evidence);
  • Linkage to HIV medical care (percentage of people diagnosed with HIV in a given year who have received medical care for their HIV infection within one month of diagnosis.);
  • Viral suppression (percentage of people living with diagnosed HIV infection who have an amount of HIV that is less than 200 copies per milliliter of blood, in a given year); and
  • PrEP coverage (estimated percentage of individuals prescribed PrEP among those who need it).

You can see how Los Angeles County (and other jurisdictions) are doing toward meetings its goals for 2025 and 2030 by clicking here.

January 1, 2021
ACA Takes Effect; Protections Enacted Against Pre-Existing Conditions

Major consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) go into effect, including key advances for people living with HIV/AIDS.

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Healthcare insurance companies are now barred from discriminating against customers with pre-existing conditions, and they can no longer impose annual limits on coverage.

January 15, 2021
U.S. Sets 10-Year Goal to End Epidemic

The U.S. launches an initiative, The HIV National Strategic Plan for the United States: A Roadmap to End the Epidemic 2021-2025 (“HIV Plan”), that charts a 10-year program for reducing new HIV infections by 90% by 2030.

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The Health and Human Services Department releases its HIV Plan, which sets four goals, along with objectives and strategies for use by all partners and stakeholders:

  • Prevent new HIV infections;
  • Improve HIV-related health outcomes of people with HIV;
  • Reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequities; and
  • Achieve integrated, coordinated efforts that address the HIV epidemic among all partners and stakeholders.

According to HHS, its HIV Plan is designed to complement the Center for Disease Control’s Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative, with the EHE initiative serving as a leading component of the work by HHS to implement the HIV Plan.

While the EHE initiative is being launched in jurisdictions hardest hit by the epidemic, the HIV
Plan is designed to cover all of the U.S. and has a broader focus across federal departments and agencies beyond HHS and all sectors of society.

March 8, 2021
PACHA Tackles the Intersection of COVID-19 and HIV

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS holds its 70th meeting to discuss, among other things, the intersection of COVID-19 and HIV.

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Other topics addressed at PACHA’s meeting, include the status of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative and HIV National Strategic Plan, future implementation efforts, and how to better address the needs of women with HIV and of the HIV community.

Formed by President Bill Clinton in 1995 (with each president since renewing the council’s charter) PACHA provides advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health & Human Services regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective treatment, prevention and cure of HIV disease and AIDS.

May 12, 2021
CDC Reaffirms Role of STD Clinics in HIV Diagnosis

Underscoring the key role that STD clinics play in HIV diagnosis, prevention, care, and treatment, the Centers for Disease Control re-states its commitment to supporting STD clinics with more than $14 million in funding.

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In a report, the CDC champions the role that STD clinics play in HIV diagnosis, prevention, care, and treatment.  As part of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative, the CDC releases 43 mllion in funding in August 2020 for seven jurisdictions, including:

  • Alabama Department of Public Health (Jefferson County)
  • Arizona Department of Health Services (Maricopa County)
  • Baltimore City Health Department
  • District of Columbia Department of Health
  • San Francisco Department of Public Health
  • City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (St. Louis County)

In August 2021, the CDC would go on to create a five-year funding stream of an additional $11.1 million for 11 more EHE juridictions:

  • California Department of Public Health (Sacramento, San Diego, and Orange County)
  • New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Chicago Department of Public Health
  • Florida Department of Health (Orange County)
  • Georgia Department of Public Health (Fulton County)
  • Houston Health Department
  • Indiana State Department of Health (Marion County)
  • Louisiana Department of Health (East Baton Rouge Parish)
  • Maryland Department of Health (Montgomery and Prince George’s County)
  • New Jersey Department of Health (Essex County (Newark))
  • Ohio Department of Health (Franklin County)
  • Texas Department of State Health Services (Dallas County)
June 5, 2021
CDC’s Initial Report of AIDS Turns 40

The world marks 40 years since the first five cases of what later became known as AIDS were officially reported in Los Angeles.

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President Joe Biden, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken release messages recognizing the 40th anniversary. Other events and activities are held across the country to remember the lives that were cut short by this terrible disease and celebrate the resilience and dignity of the more than 38 million people with HIV worldwide.

On this day, the Foundation for The AIDS Monument held its ceremonial groundbreaking at the future site of STORIES: The AIDS Monument in West Hollywood Park.  Among the community members who attend the event is Dr. Michael Gottlieb, one of the authors of the June 1981 CDC report announcing the first five cases of an illness subsequently defined as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

The five men described in the report were between the ages of 29-36 and resided in the Los Angeles area, and by the time the report was published, two had already died.  The relatively brief report gave scant information about this new medical phenomenon, including the following:

  • The patients did not know each other and had no known common contacts or knowledge of sexual partners who had had similar illnesses.
  • Two of the five reported having frequent homosexual contacts with various partners.
  • All five reported using inhalant drugs, and one reported parenteral drug use (i.e., injected or implanted drugs).
July 22, 2021
‘HIV Challenge’ Spotlights Needs of Racial & Ethnic Minority Communities

HHS announces the launch of The HIV Challenge, a national competition to engage communities to reduce HIV-related stigma and increase prevention and treatment among racial and ethnic minority people.

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Through this challenge, HHS seeks innovative and effective approaches to increase the use of PrEP and ART among people who are at increased risk for HIV or are people living with HIV.

Giving both pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and antiretroviral therapy (ART) to heterosexual couples where one partner has HIV can almost eliminate the chance of infection in the HIV-negative partner, a study presented at the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2015) in Seattle shows.

 

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