Tag Archives: AIDS Crisis

Gay History - November 4, 1986: California's Prop 64 To Quarantine People With AIDS Defeated

Gay History – November 4, 1986: California’s Prop 64 To Quarantine People With AIDS Defeated

The AIDS Plague years is the darkest chapter in gay history. The moments of pain, horror, and degradation that gay men suffered is all but forgotten today except by those who lived through it and survived.  

One of those dark moments happened in California in 1986 when paranoid perennial Presidential candidate and nutjob Lyndon LaRouche at the height of the hysterical anti-gay backlash that had sprung up against the growing AIDS epidemic, founded his Prevent AIDS Now Initiative Committee (PANIC), which gathered enough signatures to place Proposition 64 onto the ballot. Prop 64, also known as the LaRouche Initiative, would have placed AIDS onto California’s list of communicable diseases under the state’s public health law, and that would have effectively forced anyone who was HIV-positive out of their jobs and schools and into a quarantine.

LaRouche and his followers claimed that such measures were required because AIDS was “worse than the Black Death” and was “more deadly to mankind than a full-scale thermonuclear war.”  “A person with AIDS running around is like a person with a machine gun shooting up a neighborhood,” LaRouche told a San Francisco radio program. He also  charged that “AIDS is the first known epidemic which could potentially wipe out the entire human race” and that his detractors were “guilty of one of the most evil cover-ups in medical history.”

Luckily despite support by Congressman William E. Dannemeyer, Prop 64 lost in a landslide, 71% to 29%. LaRouche brought it back again in 1988 as Prop 69, and lost by an even wider margin. He also made that AIDS quarantine the centerpiece of his 1988 presidential campaign, which again he lost. But losing never stopped LaRouche from making other heinous  lunatic remarks.

Continue reading Gay History – November 4, 1986: California’s Prop 64 To Quarantine People With AIDS Defeated

Gay History – August 2, 1988: Ronald Reagan Orders Ban on Discrimination Against People With AIDS. But Only For A Certain Few

After ignoring the first 6 years of the AIDS epidemic which helped push many gay men to their graves.  In 1986,  SIX YEARS AFTER the plague began Ronald  Reagan finally requested $85 million for AIDS research. Congress horrified at such a low number bumped that figure up to $244 million only to have Reagan then unsuccessfully try to rescind $50 million of that figure.  After months if fighting Reagan ultimately agreed to Congress’ figure.

In 1987, during the height of the epidemic Reagan once again proposed cutting the research budget for AIDS down to $214 million. Congress again responded dramatically against Reagan by raising it to about $400 million.

On August 2nd, 1988 on a recommendation from a 13-member President’s Commission On the HIV Epidemic, President Reagan ordered a ban on discrimination against federal workers with AIDS. His actions, however drew sharp criticism from AIDS activists for not acting on many of the other recommendations from his commission, which also urged federal legislation to protect HIV+ workers outside of the federal government. The President instead urged a voluntary approach and asked “businesses, unions and schools to examine and consider adopting” similar policies. Acting on a few other recommendations, Reagan also ordered the FDA to notify those who received blood transfusions to advise them to take an HIV test, promised to help accelerate the development of AIDS medications, and ordered another round of studies on the Commission’s 500 other recommendations. Meanwhile, Vice President George Bush, who was running for President, had already endorsed the commission’s recommendations which included a spending increase of $3.1 billion to combat the disease.

Dr. Frank Lilly, the commission’s only openly gay member, criticized Reagan’s limited action on just a tiny handful of the commission’s recommendations. “We’ve got a blueprint for a national policy on AIDS,” he said. “It’s a piece of whole cloth. You can’t pick and choose your own menu from it.” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who had led the charge in Congress to increase the federal government’s response to the epidemic, accused Reagan of stalling: “This administration has done its best to avoid making even a single helpful AIDS decision in the eight years of the Reagan presidency,” he said. “They handpick a commission, and then don`t even have the courage to accept its recommendations… What we need is leadership, and while Dr. (Surgeon General C. Everett) Koop and (HIV Commission chairman) Adm. (James) Watkins have given that, once again the President is hiding.”

At this point in time AIDS patients, mostly gay men were dying at a rate of about 80 – 100 per week.

#NeverForget  #NeverForgive

The Chilling Statistics of AIDS Deaths in Gay Men Help Understand The Long-term Trauma They Endure Today

The Chilling Statistics of AIDS Deaths in Gay Men Help Understand The Long-term Trauma They Endure Today

An article by Dr Dana Rosenfeld, Director of the Keele Centre for Ageing Research reported more than 5 years ago on the affects that gay men who lived through the AIDS crisis and the trauma they endured and how it still stays with them today.

The article points out that older gay people were aged 50-70 in 1980, when HIV / AIDS emerged in the west, gay male ‘baby boomers’ (born 1946-1964) were aged 34-16 and how for them, the high number of AIDS deaths at the epidemic’s peak (1987-1996) shaped their lives, during the epidemic, throughout their life course, and into later years. 

Statistics: AIDS killed 324,029 men and women in the USA between 1987 and 1998.

AIDS deaths were highest in major cities with thriving gay communities with a far higher proportion of gay male residents than the national average. In 1990, AIDS caused 61% of all deaths of men aged 25-44 (born 1946-1965) in San Francisco, 35% in New York, 51% in Ft. Lauderdale, 32% in Boston, 33% in Washington, DC, 39% in Seattle, 34% in Dallas, 38% in Atlanta, 43% in Miami, and 25% in Portland, Oregon. Older gay men, myself included who had lost friends and / or partners during the AIDS epidemic described cities becoming virtual ghost-towns.

The AIDS epidemic’s impacts on this generation of gay men, now aged 54-72, are still being explored. High mortality within tight gay networks have inspired the term ‘multiple loss syndrome’ to capture these deaths’ psychological toll. 

Dr Rosenfled also found that ‘nearly all older gay men alive today, regardless of their HIV status or when they come out, have been impacted in some way’ by HIV / AIDS. Many of these men were (and continue to be) AIDS activists and / or carers, and have played, and continue to play, a central role in the LGBT community’s history.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, 79.3 million [55.9–110 million] people have been infected with the HIV virus and 36.3 million [27.2–47.8 million] people have died of HIV. Globally, 37.7 million [30.2–45.1 million] people were living with HIV at the end of 2020.

It’s still not over.