Family Circle 14

A family history site: Chasing My Own Tale

Friday Faces of the Past: AIDS Anniversary Remembered

It’s been 30 years since the world has learned of the AIDS epidemic. On April 23, 1984, the Department of Health and Human Services held a press conference. Three years earlier, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reported the first cases of a rare pneumonia that infected 5 gay men in Los Angeles.

The news of this new disease was devastating to certain populations, particularly those who were sexually active, hemophiliacs, or IV drug users. The press conference announced the probable cause, a virus eventually called HIV or human immunodeficiency virus.

Why this discussion on a genealogy blog? As this issue continues to be volatile, I can only say that I personally know family members who were and are affected. Because of that volatility, their names will be withheld. Additionally, my family and I cared for the first AIDS baby in the county we lived in back in 1985 and he passed away in our foster home at 8 months of age.

During this press conference in 1984, government scientists projected a preventative vaccine, which should be ready for testing within 2 or 3 years. There’s still no cure or vaccine, but drugs have been developed to help patients manage it as a chronic disease, if taken as prescribed. Thankfully, this has drastically decreased the fatalities, but not before 36 million died of AIDS since 1981, according to the World Health Organization.

I wonder whether we know all there is to know about this disease. Perhaps the cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common virus belonging to the herpes group of viruses, has something to do with it. Or maybe, the Epstein – Barr virus. Whatever the cause, I remember the fear it struck in certain populations.

Whatever the reasons for contracting this terrible disease, there are innocent victims. I pray for a total and complete cure for this and all other devastating conditions.



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