Wednesday, February 15, 2012

1980's & AIDS

During the 1980's the AIDS epidemic began to escalate and the people being blamed for the spread of the disease were homosexual men and intravenous drug users, AIDS was referred to as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency). Catching HIV in the 80's was considered a death sentence because many people believed it was a gay disease or a disease drug users got. This meant that the rest of society didn't have to deal with the affects or consequences of AIDS and no one was looking for a prevention or a cure because society was convinced that not everyone was at risk because they were not taking drugs or they weren't homosexual. It was not until haemophilia patients began to die from AIDS that doctors and scientists realised that the virus was carried in the blood and they caught the disease after receiving a blood transfusion. This spurred a investigation into testing blood for the disease and generated fear which spread quicker that the disease as people realized that they weren't safe and they could catch the disease too.

An online website called AVERT which is an International HIV and AIDS charity, they state that in the 80's it was discovered that AIDS wasn't just a disease which homosexuals and intravenous drug users would suffer from but was a disease which spread through blood as haemophiliacs were contracting the disease after blood transfusions. They also state that “the CDC also began to receive reports of AIDS amongst a small number of migrants from the Caribbean island of Haiti.[...] AIDS had become a disease of the 'four H club' homosexuals, heroin addicts, haemophiliacs and Haitians – even though there had been cases among people who did not fall into one of these groups […] The inclusion of Haitians as a risk group caused much controversy. Haitian Americans complained of stigmatisation, officials accused the CDC of racism, and Haiti suffered a serious blow to its tourism industry”. AIDS caused much discrimination for the gay community and Caribbean immigrants.

In an article wrote for CNN, Elizabeth Landau stated that “HIV marked the end of what has been called the 'Golden Age of Promiscuity'.” This was because of “birth control pills available, abortion legalized and antibiotics developed for many sexually transmitted diseases, the risks of all forms of sex seemed more minimal than ever before.” So no one had any reason to fear any consequences of unsafe sex until the 80's when people began to die from AIDS and it wasn't until the mid to late 1980's that people began to be educated after President Reagan pushed for public reassurance and in 1988 “Surgeon General C. Everett Koop wrote a brochure about AIDS that was sent to all 107 million American households” although this was met with criticism that it took so long for the government to speak up and deal with the issue of AIDS and HIV on a national level.

Testing continued throughout the 1990's to present where we still see today forms of discrimination and with charity events such as World AIDS day on December 1st every year where numerous celebrities get involved with trying to educate and raise awareness for this disease. I feel the 1980's was a turning point for society on the whole issue of sexual health and awareness and being educated about these diseases should be taken seriously. Also because of the research which began in the 1980's people can live longer and some what healthier lives today even if they are suffering from HIV or AIDS, Its no longer deemed as a death sentence where the patient would die within 24 months of being diagnosed.

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