AIDS: 30 Years Later

It was thirty years ago today, on June 5, 1981, that the Center for Disease Control first published a report on the mysterious epidemic that we have now come to know as AIDS. Today, we remember the 30 million who have passed from the disease and and the 32 million who currently live with either AIDS or HIV. You can read the original 1981 CDC report on the disease on the agency's on-line archive here. Other relevant reports about its can be found here.

To mark the anniversary, hundreds of people are expected to participate in a candlelight vigil in West Hollywood at 6pm tonight. Details about the march are here.

The White House has issued a statement, which reads in part:

Wh “This battle is not over,” said Secretary for Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.  “As long as the AIDS virus threatens the health and lives of people here and around the globe, our work will continue to connect people to treatment, educate them about how to protect themselves, battle discrimination, and to keep the country focused on our collective fight against this pandemic.” While America has made great strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS in recent years, the Obama Administration has made it a priority to re-focus national attention on a domestic epidemic that is still in play.  Building on a growing body of evidence and lessons learned, the Administration released last year and is now implementing a comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy  that provides a roadmap for reducing new infections, improving care and health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS, and reducing the health disparities that have characterized this epidemic."

"The President is also deeply committed to expanding access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care for more Americans and  to supporting a robust research agenda to ensure  that we make steady progress toward ending the pandemic. Under the President’s leadership, the Administration has increased domestic HIV/AIDS funding to support the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HIV prevention. On the global stage, the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative has built on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) by expanding access to treatment, prevention and care for those in need around the world, and further enhanced our impact by providing increased support for  maternal-child health and by supporting the efforts of governments and communities in the developing world to build their capacity to fight this epidemic and meet the other health challenges they face.  The Administration will continue to use its leadership to call upon other countries to honor their commitments to defeat a pandemic that demands the attention of the entire world."

The Chicago Sun-Times spotlights Tom Menard, the 52-year-old vice president of operations for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago who has been living with HIV for almost 30 years. The New York Times has also published an editorial by Mark Trautwein, an editor for KQED Public Radio who has also lived with the virus for the same amount of time.

You may recall that, just last month, Timothy Ray Brown, the so-called "Berlin Patient" was apparently "cured" of HIV through the use of genetically-engineered stem cells. Watch a CBS2 SF television interview with Brown, AFTER THE JUMP.

Researchers are currently focused on finding a vaccine.

Map Click here for a map from Emory University that shows where the highest concentration of people living with HIV are located in the United States.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has created an informative interactive time-line on the disease, which you can view here.

The National Museum of American History marks the anniversary with a newly opened exhibition on the disease.

Last month the San Francisco AIDS Foundation recently installed a giant AIDS ribbon on Twin Peaks in San Francisco.

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has produced a compelling video about the effects of AIDS and HIV on the city of San Francisco, one of the hardest hit regions during the early history of the disease. Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP.

Human AIDS Red Ribbon photo above courtesy of Stephen Busken for AIDS Life Cycle 10.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. It was thirty "years" ago, not "days."

    Posted by: Wayne | Jun 5, 2011 6:42:34 AM

  2. What a thorough article and set of links showing the disease then and now. I'm sure it was no small task in assembling. Thanks for doing so.

    Posted by: Tim | Jun 5, 2011 8:26:38 AM

  3. Regarding the interactive map:

    1) It's clear AIDS is today a mostly 'minority' disease.
    2) AIDS is HEAVILY concentrated along the east and to a lesser degree west coasts. Interesting to see the very high rates in the deep south especially. But it's overwhelmingly black and to a lesser degree Hispanic. In the northeast, the rates are more evenly distributed, but 'minorities' still appear to far outnumber whites with the disease.
    3} The rate among minority females appears to be very high.
    4) My state, Massachusetts, has a large rate of people 'living' with AIDS. I STRONGLY suspect this has to do with our 'universal' healthcare and people deliberately moving here to get easy access to 'free' healthcare, or living elsewhere and committing fraud, pretending they're a resident of the state. This is a SERIOUS issue.

    A long time ago [back in the early 90s] I was walking in Boston with a friend [dude] when a car went by us with 2 [black] dudes. One of them yelled 'AIDs!! F*gs!' and sped off. Neither of us looked 'gay' but it was in a 'gay' neighborhood [now gentrified]. Today I guess it's no longer 'f*gs' who are most likely to get the disease.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 5, 2011 9:18:33 AM


    Please stop with your race baiting BS.

    Here's a chair _/ Have a seat.

    Posted by: Sneakerhead | Jun 5, 2011 10:04:30 AM

  5. Blows me away to see that big AIDS ribbon on the White House. As for Ronald Reagan, Saint of the Right Wing, let it be remembered what he didn't do.

    Posted by: Russell | Jun 5, 2011 10:07:37 AM

  6. Now would be a wonderful time to do an article on Frank Moore, the artist who came up with the AIDS ribbon design and which has been copied by almost every group ever since. He was active in the downtown NYC arts scene in the 1980's.

    Posted by: gregg | Jun 5, 2011 10:23:04 AM

  7. Thirty years later and unsafe, bareback sex is running rampant through the gay community. Even "mainstream" porn sites like BelAmi and Corbin Fisher are now offering bareback to satiate their "customers". Meanwhile, thousands and thousands of gay men are sero-converting, having no idea what safe sex really is all about. Is our community suicidal?

    Posted by: dolop | Jun 5, 2011 11:24:54 AM

  8. Sneakerhead, Ratbastard is right. Look at the interactive map. The rate is MUCH higher among Blacks than Whites and Asians. Maybe it would be more productive to understand why that is, and fix it, rather than shutting down debate altogether with the usual mindless accusations of racism.

    Russel, Reagan was a criminal for ignoring this health crisis.

    Dolop, yes, our community is suicidal. We have ALL been told over and over again what behaviors are risky, and some people just don't care. You MUST protect yourself ALWAYS.

    Echo Tim. Nice post, Andy.

    Posted by: Max | Jun 5, 2011 1:17:41 PM

  9. @Max: I agree it's important to understand why HIV rates are high in the communities most affected now and to work on prevention within those communities. However, Ratbastard's post wasn't about that, it was about assigning blame (as his comments typically are): AIDS=minority disease=minorities committing health care fraud. So the accusations of racism weren't misplaced. Understanding disease statistics and using them in constructive ways is different than labeling entire communities with a disease because it fits your political agenda, whether that agenda is homophobic or racist.

    And, I agree, a good post. Not an anniversary one wants to celebrate but an important one to mark. How much has changed, yet, sadly, how much hasn't changed.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jun 5, 2011 1:45:20 PM

  10. i have been living with HIV since '86 and AIDS since '03, practically my entire adult life. i never dared to hope for a cure, just another day in the sun. i shake my head in wonder: has it really been 30 years since i first heard of GRID? i've lost count of the friends who are gone. i am thankful for all the medical science that makes it possible for me to be present and accounted for.

    Posted by: deedrdo | Jun 5, 2011 2:27:37 PM


    I posted NOTHING 'racist', and it wasn't and isn't my intention for it to be construed as 'racist'. If you check the interactive map and study statistics, you'd appreciate if anything I was just stating the obvious. If you can't discuss or mention it, how can it be dealt with and improved on?


    I said NOTHING 'racist' and I didn't 'assign blame' [blame for what?!] on anyone. The closest I would assign blame [for unnecessary deaths] would be on those early on in the 'crisis' who should have insisted it be treated as a public health issue and hazard, but many gay 'advocates' lobbied for normal public health hazard responses be watered down for P.C. reasons. And most of those 'advocates' were gay white males. I would also place some 'blame' on politicians [early in the crisis] who could have greater immediate assistance or prevent[ed] scientific research for whatever reason[s].. This is certainly not the case now or for many years; AIDS research is WELL funded. A gravy train, actually.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 5, 2011 2:34:52 PM

  12. @Russell,

    One of the oldest functions of government, even going back to ancient times, was to offer any possible assistance in times of epidemic disease. The more years that pass, the more the population, and history, will view Ronald Reagan as a villain for studiously ignoring a deadly epidemic. His only rationale (and of those who supported him) was hate.

    Posted by: Phil | Jun 5, 2011 3:59:36 PM

  13. Thirty years of suffering. Thirty years giving back to the disease. Thirty years making it difficult for patients with expensive drugs. Thirty years of inmoblilismo by governments. Treit years of horrors. And there is always hope.

    Posted by: Friedrich Sisbert | Jun 5, 2011 6:05:18 PM

  14. I've been positive for 15 years and I'm happy and healthy. However, I'm in the closet about my HIV status. Only my partner (who is negative) and half a dozen close friends know my status. I suspect I am not alone in still not feeling comfortable going public. In fact, I bet there are for more of us living quietly with HIV, than living openly about it. Kinda sad, I guess, but my life is good, so why complain.

    Posted by: Asher | Jun 5, 2011 7:08:10 PM

  15. Asher, realizing that you're not going to die tomorrow...or even in the next one of the hardest things for newly poz people to accept. There is so much fearsome momentum with the disease, so much horror and so many who who make claims like "the eighties never ended, they just slowed down". This isn't to say that the disease is "no big deal", but we shouldn't pretend that it is the nightmare it once was. After testing positive, many of us go on with our lives, and to a large extent the worst thing about HIV is the crushing stigma and unnecessary expense of antiretroviral treatment. It is a "manageable disease"...that doesn't mean that its easily managed, or comfortable, but that infection doesn't necessarily lead to death within a few years. Of course, thats only if we don't blow our heads off in a fit of hysteria, or splay our profiles on some bareback website where we'll complicate our health with more STDs, like hepatitis C or syphilis. Given the increasing tendency of "AIDS activists" and petty HIV- queens to talk sh!t and play up the consequences of infection, its a wonder any of us manage to make it home from the testing office without driving our car off a bridge first.

    Prior to your comment, there were pages and pages of gay men proclaiming that this is a "minority" disease, with the logical implication being that it is no longer a "gay" disease. Let us be certain, the majority of newly diagnosed persons are STILL GAY WHITE MEN, and the gay community is unique in that it stands alone in the US with an accelerating rate of infection. It is that previously mentioned mentality..."mostly a minority disease"...which enables the sense of complacenecy and denial among negative gay men face about their prospects for infection, and isolates people like us. Sadly, this both increases the number of infections and magnifies its severity.

    Posted by: Poz and still not dead! | Jun 5, 2011 7:41:26 PM

  16. Max and Ratbastard, comments meant what they were meant to be HURTFUL AND RACISTLY SPITEFUL (not that it is a word "racistly")

    And Andy I really wish you'd monitor this Ratbastard a little more often on this post.

    That comment should have been deleted!


    Posted by: chris dachocolatebearcub | Jun 5, 2011 10:54:41 PM

  17. Whether or not you want to believe the racial make-up of new hiv+ people is black, white, hispanic or anything else it has and is continuing to change. Women are one of the largest growing groups of conversions. Where I live, all hiv meds are free (completely government subsidized) but the thing that needs to be looked at more closely than race is that it is the poor and less fortunate that seem to be in the most danger. Look at the rates in Africa and most of the 3rd world. I dont think it is so much a lack of education but a lack of resources. For the poorest of the poor dirt farmers, condoms are not a reality at over $1 each and with no access to the luxuries of the western world, sex is a more common "past-time".
    For those of us who have made the mistake and got hiv, drugs are something we have to deal with. Sometimes they are expensive but it is a situation we could have avoided, even if it was just not trusting that one person like it was in my case. Prevention is what needs to be focused on and not just "Education" No one in North America doesn't know of the risks of unsafe sex. The practicality of safe-sex is still a taboo subject in North America. (How many people do you know were ever shown how to put on a condom or given open, non-secretive access to them?)
    That's just my rant.

    Posted by: Seandee | Jun 6, 2011 2:07:12 AM

  18. @Seandee:
    Amen! You are so right about prevention. Practical safe-sex education is almost non-existent in this country. Even the number of "media impressions" (as they call it in advertising) about safe sex is extremely low. Back in the 90's at least there were billboards everywhere (in the gay ghettoes) with safe sex messages and full-page magazine ads etc. Not anymore. And most people get their sex messaging from the internet now. Why aren't there pop-up ads or banner ads about safe-sex? There just does not seem to be any priority placed on safe-sex education or media campaigns at all. We have regressed.

    Posted by: dolop | Jun 6, 2011 11:55:21 AM

  19. The map does not include Alaska or Hawaii, which are also part of the United States =)

    Posted by: Quipper | Jun 6, 2011 4:20:47 PM

  20. Correction: The Emory Univ website does include it... thanks!

    Posted by: Quipper | Jun 6, 2011 4:23:35 PM

  21. ARV drugs do not cure people of the HIV virus or AIDS, they only make people sick. Most people do not realize that ARV drugs actually feed the HIV virus so that the virus doesn’t go into full blown AIDS and consume the entire body. Thus, ARV drugs keep one alive but at the expense of immense pain and suffering, feeding the virus their happiness and energy.
    Listen to the audios to see how aids is being cured without drugs :

    Posted by: aiden | Jun 6, 2011 10:21:57 PM

  22. People living with HIV/AIDS is not that easy. but around 33 million ppl worldwide are infected with HIV/AIDS and 4.1 million more are added each year.
    As I know, many good-looking people, including some celebrities also find love and support on the official STD support site STDdatings. wish you luck and find someone understand you.

    Posted by: Liz | Jun 9, 2011 7:35:48 AM

  23. Whilst there is no complete cure as yet for aids, we can at least console ourselves that researchers provide more drugs to enable us to live prolonged and fuller lives.

    Posted by: sciatica treatment | Oct 8, 2011 10:45:10 AM

Post a comment


« «News: Nicholas Hoult, Romania, Ewan McGregor, 'Devil Worm'« «