HIV/AIDS made a name for itself in the 1980's in the United States. Now 30 years later, the nation reflects this week on the history of the disease and the impact it has made on the most infected cities such as Washington D.C. and San Francisco. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first cases of the virus that would be known as AIDS on June 5, 1981.
A recent study of 500 gay men in Washington D.C. found that 14% are HIV-positive. As of December 2008 in New York City, a little more than 50% of new HIV and AIDS infections were among African Americans, and new HIV infections were highest among those ages 20 to 29 and 30 to 39, according to the New York City Department of Health.
Across the country, every nine and a half minutes someone in the U.S. is being infected with HIV, reports the CDC. And AIDS is the leading cause of death for African American women ages 25 to 34.
Every day in San Francisco, two more people are newly infected with HIV. More than 56,000 people are infected every year nationwide. Alarmingly, rates of new HIV infections are rising among gay and bisexual men nationwide, the only risk group for which this is the case. San Francisco was the first city in the country to experience epidemic levels of the disease. Today there are close to 16,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in San Francisco.
In the Northern California metropolitan area, a massive red ribbon appears on the side of Twin Peaks to mark the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS in the United States. San Francisco AIDS Foundation conceived the red ribbon to reinforce its commitment to improving the health of the community through increased HIV testing and prevention efforts, and vital services that ensure HIV-positive people can access treatment and receive high-quality care.
San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano comments:
"This ribbon is a bold reminder to the entire world that HIV/AIDS is still an issue that urgently needs our attention. We have made tremendous progress in the fight against the disease over the past 30 years, but our work is not done. We believe even one new infection is one too many, and we will continue to give people the information and services they need to remain healthy and take care of the people they love."
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener continues:
"San Francisco has always been a pioneer when it comes to HIV/AIDS. From the early days of the disease, the city responded with courage to save lives and change the course of the epidemic. Today the ribbon on Twin Peaks is an extension of that legacy and sends an important message that San Francisco will always be a leader in the fight against HIV."
In July 2008 the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Financial Services appropriations bill for 2009, which included an allocation of $1.4 million to develop a National AIDS Strategy.
In April 2010, the Office of National AIDS Policy released a report summarizing feedback from community discussions held in 14 sites across the U.S intended to inform the development of the strategy. Since America has never had such a strategy, hundreds who had been campaigning for it welcomed the plan.
President Obama signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act in October 2009. The legislation authorized the Act until 2013. Ryan was a schoolboy who had become infected with HIV via a blood transfusion for his hemophilia. He had become well known in the 1980s as a result of his fight to be allowed to attend public school, from which he had been banned due to fears that other children 'might pick up AIDS.'
Sources: The San Francisco AIDS Foundation, CDC and Avert
Written by Sy Kraft