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, Haitian immigrants, 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. In the United States today, more than 1.1 million people are living with AIDS and over 700,000 have died.
“It was terrifying. Probably the scariest period of time in the gay community was before there was a test, and before they really knew what it was. We had all kinds of theories: that it was a consequence of using poppers, which were popular in dance clubs; that if you had lots of sexual partners, you would get it, and if you didn’t, you wouldn’t. And so people stopped having sex.”
Franklin Abbott, September 30, 2011