#NeverForget – September 24, 1982: The Centers for Disease Control Uses The Term “AIDS” For The First Time




Gay-related immune deficiency (GRID) was the name first proposed in 1982 to describe an “unexpected cluster of cases” after public health scientists noticed clusters of Kaposi’s sarcoma and pneumocystis pneumonia among gay males in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.[During this time, the phrase “gay cancer” was also used.

In 1982,  355 cases of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and/or serious opportunistic infections in previously healthy young people had been reported to the Center for Disease Control by mid 1982.  A total of 20 states had reported cases and the disease was no longer solely affecting gay men; there were a small number of cases among heterosexual men and women. Over half of those identified as heterosexual had used intravenous drugs at some point.

“By mid-1982 it was clearly different. People were starting to shake in their pants. It was clear that it was more than isolated incidents” said G’dali Braverman, an AIDS activist living in San Francisco

It was not until July at a meeting in Washington, D.C., that the acronym AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) was suggested

On September 24, the CDC used the term “AIDS”  for the first time replacing the previous name of GRID, and released the first case definition of AIDS: ““a disease at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell-mediated immunity, occurring in a person with no known case for diminished resistance to that disease.”

At that point in the plague two to three cases of AIDS were being diagnosed in the USA every day.

AIDS.gov reports that 50,000 new Americans becoming infected with HIV each year and over 35 million people worldwide have dies of HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began.

PLEASE remember while science has made great strides in research that the AIDS epidemic IS NOT over.



Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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