“Today we add another miracle to the long honor roll of American medicine and science” announced Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler thirty years ago today. “Today's discovery represents the triumph of science over a dreaded disease. Those who have disparaged this scientific search - those who have said we weren't doing enough - have not understood how sound, solid, significant medical research proceeds.”
Secretary Heckler also made a multi-part announcement. “First, the probable cause of AIDS has been found: a variant of a known human cancer virus. Second, not only has the agent been identified, but a new process has been developed to mass produce this virus. Thirdly, with the discovery of both the virus and this new process, we now have a blood test for AIDS. With a blood test, we can identify AIDS victims with essentially 100% certainty.”
AIDS has been around since 1981 when it was first clinically observed in the United States in gay men. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn't have an official name for the disease yet but the mainstream press referred to it as "GRID," gay-related immune deficiency. Later the CDC coined the phrase "4H disease," referring to Haitians, homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and heroin users. By September of 1982 the CDC started referring to the disease as AIDS. It was seven months later that Secretary Heckler made these important announcements.
After thirty years though we still have AIDS. Yes, there have been advancements, but there still is no cure. We still need research. We still need education. We still need to get rid of the stigma and treat people as human beings. That is why I support my activist friends who speak up and make a difference. That is why I support Jason Villalobos every year when he participate in AIDS LifeCycle. That is my I personally walk each year in AIDS Walk San Francisco. You can get involved too! You can make a difference! To sponsor Jason, click HERE. To sponsor me, click HERE.