Across the nation this past year, those involved in the ongoing effort to battle HIV/AIDS commemorated the 30-year mark since medical professionals realized in 1981 they were facing a new and mysterious virus that was starting to claim lives and turn into a dangerous epidemic.
The anniversary illustrates the astonishing progress that has been made since the discovery of what was originally called Kaposi’s sarcoma, and then GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency). The condition, which had not yet been definitively linked to a virus in 1981, was renamed Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) by the U.S. Center for Disease Control in 1982.
Cases reported as Kaposi’s sarcoma were discovered in both New York and Florida in 1981, and the same year the Florida Department of Health started official surveillance of the cases. Officials in Florida, and particularly in South Florida, have been along the front lines of the fight since the beginning. Today, this area is viewed as a national example of the strides that have been made over the last 30 years.
In this issue we will look at the history, both nationally and locally, of the efforts to fight HIV and to provide continually improving services for People Living With HIV/AIDS.
That includes reports on how different governmental entities have worked for the cause with the creation of the Ryan White Program and other services, as well as the medical advances over the last 30 years, improvements in testing and prevention, and how those from different genders, sexual orientations and ethnic groups have taken on the challenges presented since the onset of the HIV epidemic.
This issue will also look at the ways attitudes about HIV have changed over the years, whether that means the perceptions of the general public, or, more importantly, the outlook for those living with HIV.
What was considered a rapid death sentence 30 years ago is now a condition that can be effectively treated. With diligent participation in their care, persons living with HIV can now lead active lives with family and friends.