First Reports of AIDS and misconceptions in the United States In early June 1981, the first reports of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia discovered among five previously healthy young men in Los Angeles, and published in the medical literature. The men were described as homosexuals; all five men had either previous or current infections with a virus and fungus usually seen in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or transplant recipients. Two of the five men initially diagnosed died.
Following the published reports in Los Angeles, 10 additional cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, were reported in homosexual men in New York City, and San Francisco. Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer not seen in young men of the United States also reported 26 cases of the cancer. Eight of the men with Kaposi’s sarcoma died within twenty-four months of their diagnosis. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficient Syndrome (AIDS) was not even a term that was in use when the pneumonia was first detected in 1981.
Before the disease was named, and before the cause was known, doctors struggled with one or more of their patients’ multiple symptoms. Hospitals, doctors, and clinics were seeing patients with symptoms and conditions they had never dealt with, let alone treated before. By the end of 1981, the nation noticed the symptoms were due to a defect in the body’s immune system. The occurrence of AIDS in homosexual and bisexual men suggested that it was more than an infection caused by a single virus, one or more viruses, plus the involvement of drug use, specific sexual acts, and even genetics were suspected sources of the disease.
Ronald Reagan delayed what could have been a significant step in awareness, by choosing not to publicly talk about AIDS or prevention. It has been said that he believed that since it only affected promiscuous people, homosexuals, and drug users that it was not his type of people and he should not worry about it. That delay, cause the misconceptions to spread. Beginning in 1982, and 1983, different case reports documented the
occurrence of AIDS in other populations: women who were sexual partners of men with AIDS, or other men in high risk groups, male and female intravenous drug users, infants born to mothers who were intravenous drug users, hemophiliacs and other blood transfusion patients. The disease was also spreading to other countries. Canada, Europe, and Australia were also seeing new cases of the virus. The growing number of cases, geographic spread, and risk factor of the patients increased the likelihood of a virus that was being transmitted through blood and bodily fluids.
The U. S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concluded in March 1983,”available data, suggests that the severe disorder of immune regulation underlying AIDS is caused by a transmissible agent” (CDC AIDS study, 1983). It is now clear that AIDS is a disease of the immune system. Defining a condition that is required, it is not congenital or inherited through a single gene or set of genes. It is characterized by a defect or deficiency in the immune system leaving the body vulnerable to infections and cancers.
In addition to laboratory confirmation of HIV infection (positive HIV blood test) and a laboratory measure of the number or percentage of a specific immune cell type targeted by HIV and found in a blood sample, one of twenty-six clinical conditions is required for a diagnosis of AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. At Risk and Transmission Much has changed since the first diagnosis thirty years ago. We have advanced not only in medical technology but have been able to eliminate many of the misconceptions that occurred since the first reported cases.
An individual can be infected with HIV and yet be healthy (with or without drugs that attack the virus). There is also, a small percentage of those HIV infected individuals that remain healthy with no evidence of a compromised immune system for 10 years or longer. Those at risk are still quite similar since the first cases were reported. Blood transfusion recipients, infants born to HIV positive mothers, homosexual/bisexual males, sex workers, injecting drug users, occupationally exposed personnel (health care workers), male and female sexual contact of HIV infected persons, tissue and organ transplant recipients, and uncircumcised males.
Transmission of the HIV virus if not treated will turn into full-blown AIDS. One of twenty-six clinical conditions is required before a diagnosis of AIDS is made; if not then you will still be classified as having HIV. Due to the increased understanding of the dynamics of HIV infection, better tracking and reporting methods, and accumulated data, several characteristics of the current global HIV/AIDS pandemic are clear, the number of people living with HIV is the highest it has ever been and will continue to increase, due in large part to the effectiveness of life-prolonging HIV/AIDS treatment drugs.
Although there have been significant steps to inform, treat, and minimize the spread of the disease, there are certain parts of the world where HIV/AIDS is very prevalent. Of the 33. 3 million people in 2009, living with HIV, 22. 5 million live in Africa or 65% of HIV infected population. Improving availability and access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment drugs is contributing to the observed declines in HIV-related deaths.
However, HIV is increasing in African American women across the U. S.specifically in Baltimore, Md, and five other U. S cities, according to a study by researchers called the HIV Prevention Trials Network (Baltimore Sun, 3/9/12).
The other cities with an increase in HIV in African American women are, Atlanta GA, Newark NJ, New York NY, Raleigh-Durham NC, and Washington DC. Black women are becoming infected at a rate of five per 10,000 compared to the rate in Africa of 28 per 10,000. This study shows this is not only affecting homosexual or bisexual men, which many of the services and studies tend to cater.
AIDS and HIV can affect anybody and everybody, putting yourself and your health first, is foremost in prevention. The Reagan Era and Deregulation The year1981 also brought about a new president of the United States, Ronald Reagan. After defeating an aloof Jimmy Carter, Reagan swept in by offering Americans a charismatic personality while advocating tax and budget cuts. Jimmy Carter’s ineffectiveness as a president enabled Ronald Reagan to secure his position by defining and appealing to traditional values of religious beliefs and free market anticommunism.
The Reagan Revolution passed three economic policies. First he cut taxes by twenty-five percent, second he made significant cuts in social programs (welfare, food stamps, and unemployment compensation), and third he increased military spending totaling 1. 2 million over a five-year period. Producing the first economic depression since World War II, Reagan’s presidency was among the first to deregulate many of regulated required businesses such as airlines, banks and, motor vehicle restrictions.
Deregulation affected America the most. The percentage of Americans living below the poverty line increased under Reagan’s term, while social welfare cuts did nothing to help. Over 1 million people became ineligible for Medicaid, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Murders in the 1980 have also increased. Due to a cheaper form of cocaine called crack, murders increased to twenty thousand a year. Deregulation was supposed to encourage economic growth; however, its effects were felt in almost every government department.
The Department of Energy relaxed its oversight of nuclear power plants, while the Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a plan to delay or eliminate thirty-four car safety regulations, including air bags, lower emissions, and better fuel economy. America is still dealing with the effects of deregulation from the Reagan era. While it was meant to make it easier and less expensive for private industry to function, it ended up in chaos and scandal. First was the strike from the United Air Traffic controllers, thirteen thousand refused to go back to work after Reagan ordered them to, causing Reagan to fire them all.
Second, were the savings and loan scandals, which exposed greedy lender practices while simultaneously eliminating savings. Due to the cuts of the department, Reagan still proposed a tax increase of $100 billion over three years, making it the largest tax hike in American history. Despite having major setbacks during his initial term in office, Reagan claimed many economic victories. Inflation and interest rates dropped during his administration, and 18 million new jobs were created.
References Bartlett, B.(1981) Reaganomics, Supply Side Economics in Action. Arlington House Publishers: Westport, CT Epstein, H. (2007). The Invisible Cure:Africa, the West, and the fight against AIDS. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: New York, NY. Guilfoile, P. (2011). HIV and AIDS. Chelsea House Books: New York, NY. Prestowitz, C. , Morse, R. , Tonelson, A. (1991) . Powernomics, Economics and Strategy After the Cold War. Madison Books: Lanham, MD. Shultz, K. (2012). History Volume 2, 2nd Edition. Cengage Learning: Mason, OH.