On July 3, 1981, a report by Dr. Lawrence K. Altman appeared on page 20 of the New York Times, titled “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals.” HIV/AIDS traumatized and galvanized a generation of LGBT activists, who found ourselves in an unprecedented fight for our lives. Via the New York Times:
Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer. Eight of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made.
The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion. But the doctors who have made the diagnoses, mostly in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area, are alerting other physicians who treat large numbers of homosexual men to the problem in an effort to help identify more cases and to reduce the delay in offering chemotherapy treatment.
Another veteran of those fights is better known to younger generations for fighting another pandemic: COVID-19 expert Anthony Fauci (shown here discussing AIDS in 1984).
Those interested in LGBT history and in our more recent response to COVID should watch David France‘s remarkable documentary How To Survive a Plague.
Since that time, approximately 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses, according to the United Nations.
Image: New York Times