On This Gay Day: The first report about AIDS is published

On This Gay Day: The first report about HIV/AIDS was published in 1981

It’s often reported that the first information about what would later be identified as HIV/AIDS was when on 5 June 1981 the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention published a notice about gay men who had died from rare, and usually curable diseases.

The first report however has been traced back to a news story in the gay press a few weeks earlier. Appearing on Page 7 of the New York Native, the article was written by Lawrence D. Mass, who was a physician in New York.   

Dr. Mass went on the help found the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and was the principle author of the organisation’s Medical Answers about AIDS, an essential source of information that was revised four times over the next decade.

Dr. Mass still lives in New York where he resides with his life partner, writer and activist Arnie Kantrowitz, who was an early secretary and vice-president of the pioneering New York City Gay Activists Alliance and is a co-founder of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation(GLAAD).

Dr Mass currently writes for The Huffington Post. Both his papers, and those of his partner, have been archived at the New York Public Library.

Also on this gay day

Also on this day, Edward Everett Tanner – who wrote under the pseudonym Patrick Dennis was born on this day in 1921. Dennis never hid the fact the was bisexual and later in life was a celebrated character in New York’s gay scene. His most famous work is the novel Auntie Mame, which was adapted into a play, and later a musical.

Actor Miriam Margolyes celebrates her 82nd birthday.

Today is also World AIDS Vaccine Day, a day when we highlight the importance of continued research into HIV in the hope that one day a vaccine will be created to completely eradicate the virus.

OIP Staff, this post was first published in 2020 has been updated. 

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