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Wednesday, April 26 • 10:35am - 10:55am
They Did Not Die Silently: A History And Memory Of The HIV/AIDS Epidemic Through The Lens Of The Healthcare Community

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In 1981 the New York Times published an article titled “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals,” which documented the first known cases of AIDS in the United States. These would be the first cases of what we now term the AIDS Epidemic. The article explicitly reported “most cases had involved homosexual men who have had multiple and frequent sexual encounters with different partners, as many as ten sexual encounters each night up to four times a week.” Rhetoric such as this encouraged the government to blatantly dismiss the epidemic as direct result of gay anal sex, drugs, and promiscuity, which only exacerbated individual fears within an already homophobic climate in the United States. This undergraduate research project investigates the ways gay male individuals living with HIV/AIDS were treated during the onset of the AIDS Epidemic during the late 1970’s through the early 1980’s. I draw specifically on narratives from physicians, nurses, volunteers, and family members who interacted with AIDS patients and faced head on the plague that was ravaging the homosexual community. By analyzing a number of oral histories, interviews, and scholarly articles, this project locates and analyzes common threads interwoven in the stories in order to reveal the complexities faced by homosexuals living with HIV/AIDS during the initial discovery of the disease. Among other things, this project will characterize the types of interactions patients had with the medical community, their family, and friends; the discrimination patients experienced in seeking medical help; and impact on the healthcare community that interacted with the victims of HIV/AIDS. From panic and fear to a sense of purpose and passion, this silenced part of medical history can vividly be captured in these individual narratives of AIDS patients and their medical providers, humanize the lived experiences, and continually bring awareness to the ongoing crisis.


Wednesday April 26, 2017 10:35am - 10:55am PDT
206 Karpen Hall