On This Gay Day: The acronym AIDS is proposed in Washington

The acronym AIDS is first proposed in 1982

On this day in 1982 the acronym AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is first proposed at a meeting in Washington. The meeting brought together leaders of the LGBT+ communities, health experts and people from the US Centre for Disease Control who agreed that the term GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome) was misleading.

After the Centre for Disease Control identified a pattern of illnesses among gay men, the soon discovered the illness was also occurring in other populations including hemophiliacs, intravenous drug users and there was also a high prevalence among Haitian immigrants – leading to some doctors to refer to it as the 4H disease – homosexuals, heroin, hemophiliacs and Haitians.

Initially cases of what is now known to be HIV were discovered in gay men in New York in 1981, but within less than a year it was clear that the disease was not solely occurring in gay communities, leading for a more appropriate name change.

The following year the virus which would come to be named HIV was discovered.

While cases of HIV did not become prominent until the early 1980s research in the decades since it was first detected has established that the virus probably first appeared in Africa in the 1920s, and it has been established the virus was being transmitted in New York from the early 1970s.

OIP Staff, this post was first published on July 27 2020. 

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