Home / Health / Forty years after the first AIDS case was recorded. survivors think ‘Polarization of feelings’

Forty years after the first AIDS case was recorded. survivors think ‘Polarization of feelings’

For Eric Sawyer, it marks the 40th anniversary of the first scientific report describing AIDS as a new disease causing

When Sawyer, who lives in New York, first started showing symptoms of HIV in 1981, he said he was advised by fellow activist and playwright Larry Kramer to begin experiencing. “The same gay doctor who went to see patients with this disease.”

That same year, Nationwide, a young doctor named Michael Gottlieb and his colleagues at UCLA wrote in an official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on patients diagnosed with a lung infection often referred to as lung infection. that AIDS

“From October 1

980 to May 1981, five young men, all homosexuals, were treated for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia biopsies at three hospitals in Los Angeles. Angeles california Two patients died,” said a report published June 5, 1981 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Eric Sawyer attends “Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50” at the New York Public Library on February 14, 2019.Patrick McMullan/Getty Images File

Sawyer, now 67, recalls being told by a doctor at the age of 32 to manage matters. his order

“Aside from being happy to have survived the disease for 40 years, I also feel a certain degree of guilt for the survivors,” Sawyer, founding member of the AIDS campaign group ACT UP New York, told NBC News. “Why me? Why do I deserve to live when my friend and two of my girlfriends died so horrible and ugly at such a young age?”

Four decades after the CDC now releases its historical report. Long-term survivors like Sawyer, as well as activists and doctors on HIV/AIDS, are reflecting on their experiences on the front lines of the crisis and warnings about permissible inequality – which have killed an estimated 34.7 million people across the country. The world since the start of the epidemic, according to UNAIDS – still exists.

“AIDS in the United States is not over. And especially it’s not over in the Global South or around the world,” said Jawanza James Williams, director of organization at VOCAL-NY, a non-profit that helps low-income people affected by HIV and AIDS “tends to be discussed in the past. It was as if HIV and AIDS as an epidemic had ended in the United States. And it erases the reality and experience of black people, black people, or the poor, the uninsured and the real misses.”

Black people are disproportionately affected by HIV. According to the CDC, of ​​new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2018, black Americans accounted for 42 percent and Latinos accounted for 27 percent.

‘Something clicks’

Gottlieb’s encounter with a patient he would end up recording on June 5, 1981, his CDC report began with a gay man. “Which the immune system has something to do with it.” Then, within a month, There were three patients like the first, he remembered. They were all between 29 and 36 years old.

“Something clicks. Something is very wrong and needs to be reported to someone,” said Gottlieb, now an HIV and Internal Medicine specialist at APLA Health in Los Angeles, a network of health centers through the Federal accreditation serving LGBTQ people and people affected by HIV.

Although the CDC used the report date to start the HIV/AIDS epidemic, “that’s factually incorrect,” Gottlieb said.

Prior to 1981, evidence indicates that a 15-year-old boy, Robert Rayford, died in St. Louis in 1969 from a condition later identified as AIDS.

Later in the 1970s, people became ill with parasites or what is known as “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” and possibly HIV But we don’t know,” Dr. Howard Grossman, a primary care physician specializing in HIV treatment and prevention, told NBC News.

For activists and survivors The history of the HIV crisis transcends the timeline in which the nuances of human experience can be forgotten, according to Ted Kerr, author and organizer of the HIV/AIDS-focused event.

“My number one fear is that people will think that HIV started 40 years ago, and that means HIV started when the US government. Say it begins,” Kerr said. “Actually, for me, it starts when someone’s journey with HIV begins, so for someone the history of HIV begins tomorrow. people when they were diagnosed with HIV HIV started in 1969 for the Rayford family in St. Louis when Robert died, and of course includes a June 5 article from the CDC.”

‘A new type of homosexuality’

As a gay man at New York medical school in the early 1980s, Grossman, now medical director of the Midway Specialty Care Center in Wilton Manors, Fla., said the first stories he heard about people getting Taking what is known as AIDS is ultimately overwhelmed with “judgments” about drug use and promiscuity.

In an article in May 1982, The New York Times referred to the disease as A month later, NBC News first reported on a mysterious illness. “Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw reports that a new study finds “Some homosexual lifestyles have caused an epidemic of a rare form of cancer.”

When Grossman attends a meeting organized by Larry Kramer and the newly formed gay men’s health crisis in 1983. “That was the moment people realized that something terrible was going on,” he said.

as a hospital physician in Brooklyn that same year. When most people still thought this mysterious illness primarily affected homosexual men — Grossman saw intravenous drug users. people of caribbean descent and a woman who, looking back He believed he had symptoms of AIDS.

Less than a decade later, Ivy Kwan Arce, long-time AIDS survivor and ACT UP member, said she was met with disbelief when she asked her doctor for an HIV test after seeing an ACT UP poster that said, “Women don’t get it. AIDS … they just die from it.” With the fine print, women with multiple sexual partners or drug users are tested.

After a positive test result She had to retake the exam because the attitude was “Maybe the test was wrong,” she ended up at the ACT UP meeting at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center.

At the time, the CDC’s definition of AIDS did not include medical conditions known to women who were later known to have the disease. As a result, the government has undercounted the number of women who died from complications related to AIDS. Kwan participated in activities pushing the government to expand the definition of AIDS to include specific conditions for women. with Katrina Haslip, HIV/AIDS activist and fellow ACT UP members who died in 1992 from complications of AIDS.

Kwan used to work as a graphic designer. But when her workplace was found to be HIV positive She said they announced her diagnosis to her colleagues. Forbid her to go to the bathroom. and asked for her menstrual calendar before she was was eventually fired

More than 30 years after her diagnosis Kwan said that storytelling for women living with HIV/AIDS “Not much has changed”

Javanza James Williams, who was diagnosed with HIV at age 23, said communities responding to the crisis early has been removed from the AIDS history.

“It shows that people of color, people of color, women, transgender people were absent from day one. respond lovingly to this crisis and still be,” he said.

looking back to move forward

When Williams was diagnosed with HIV in 2013, he said he recalled more than 30 years since President Ronald Reagan first publicly described “AIDS. “In 1985, by the end of that year, the United States had more than 16,000 cases were reported of the illnesses that died at that time.

for williams His diagnosis was also a moment of awareness.

“It’s not unique sexual behavior,” Williams, now 31, said of why he contracted the virus. But he said he realized it was because of systematic reasons such as race, location and class, and his disproportionate proximity to HIV/AIDS-affected communities.

Members of the AIDS activist group ACT UP hold banners for George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Jesse Helms and others with placards that read “offense. on the forehead with a sign that says “Silence equals death” in protest at FDA headquarters Oct. 11, 1988 in Rockville, Maryland.Catherine McGann/Getty Image File

While there are currently effective anti-HIV drugs for people at risk of contracting HIV, and pills with few side effects that can treat those living with the virus, Sawyer doesn’t want hundreds of thousands of people to be overlooked. of people worldwide who are infected with HIV and die from AIDS-related complications every year. By 2020, there are approximately 1.5 million new cases of HIV and deaths related to AIDS. 690,000 AIDS, according to UNAIDS global statistics.

Sawyer, co-founder of Housing Works, said: “That’s too many people have lost their lives. And too many people are infected with a serious disease. If you don’t have access to the latest medical interventions and the latest medicines,” says Sawyer, co-founder of Housing Works, an organization that works to end the double crisis of homelessness and AIDS.

For Sawyer, the 40th Anniversary Report of History, June 5, 1981, was a time to learn the lessons learned. “AIDS should teach us”

“It’s time for us to start caring about the health of everyone on the planet,” he said.

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