In the summer of 1981, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) first reported unexpected outbreaks of Kaposi’s sarcoma and pneumocystis pneumonia among otherwise healthy gay men. The CDC named the new disease GRID – Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. In 1982, as it became clear that women, hemophiliacs, and intravenous drug users were contracting the disease, it was renamed AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The disease went on to reach pandemic proportions in the United States and around the world. Southern states, and in particular, Georgia have been severely impacted by the disease. Black men and transgender people were and still are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. Systemic racism in education and healthcare means that people don’t receive adequate sex education or access to health care providers and testing. This is compounded by poverty, homophobia, transphobia, and stigmatization.
In Atlanta, organizations were established to provide ongoing assistance for People with AIDS (PWAs). Other groups chose to dedicate their efforts to fundraising in support of those organizations.