June #71 : First Case Scenario - by John Morgan Wilson

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
E-newsletters
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join
Username:
Password:

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues




Table of Contents

Longtime Companion

Generation AIDS

It's A Small AIDS World After All

Marsha Burnett

Ruben Rodriguez

How They Shot AIDS: A Viral Video Roundup & Takedown

AIDS Movie Must-Haves

Words to Live By

Memento Mori

Quotes: 20/20 Hindsight

Birth of a Notion

About Face

Life After Birth

Serostim Sabotaged!

Herb Of The Month: Hawthorn

Warning: A Riff on Amps

Natural Woman

The Right Angle

Hotline Help Me!

Under My Skin

Editor's Letter

Mailbox

First Case Scenario

Songs In The Key Of Life



Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle

Shingles

Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


email print

June 2001

First Case Scenario

by John Morgan Wilson

UNFIT TO PRINT: 40,000 doctors and medical workers, and 835 reporters, received the CDC's report of a strange pneumonia in five "active homosexuals" in L.A. Only three newshounds sniffed a story in the stats.

I remember the '70s as the most exhilarating and empowering of my life. In 1971, I left the closet and joined the gay-liberation movement in Los Angeles. For the next decade we danced, got high, made love, organized and marched in the streets with unabashed pride.

On June 5, 1981, the Center for Disease Control ran a short item on the second page of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Several L.A. doctors had discovered Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) in five previously healthy "active homosexuals" -- an oddity, the study stated, because PCP was "almost exclusively limited to severely immunosuppressed patients." Few realized it then, but this obscure report was the unofficial harbinger of the AIDS epidemic.

"The first reaction on all sides was confusion, bewilderment," recalls Dr. Michael Gottlieb, then a 31-year-old assistant professor of medicine at UCLA who co-authored the report and took the lead in getting it published. "What does this mean?" As baffled as Gottlieb was, his special interest as a clinician-researcher of immune-deficient conditions caused him to take notice, he says, when the strange cases of PCP in gay men "stuck out." (For more on Gottlieb's discovery, see "Longtime Companion".)

For myself, I remember being utterly mystified by the news, but with a vague sense of dread gnawing at my gut. Reaction among gay activists ranged from curiosity to denial to alarm, but for most of us the party continued unabated -- at least for a while.

Gottlieb recalls that from the outset he sensed a coming plague. "As a doctor, I felt powerless," he says. "Our responsibility was to have answers, and we had no answers." After that, of course, came the horror: "Those next 15 years were very rough on people," he says, and then adds, "Needless to say, that's a terrible understatement." Now in private practice, Gottlieb sees about 20 HIVers a day. And if AIDS disappeared tomorrow? Gottlieb doesn't have to think before answering. "I'd watch my patients mature," he says. "We'd grow old together."

Of course, AIDS won't disappear tomorrow. Neither, for many of us, will the memory of those 15 horrific years, as the losses mounted so numbingly and the dream of gay liberation took a catastrophic detour, all foreshadowed by that mysterious medical announcement that flew by as we made our summer plans in 1981.




[Go to top]

Join POZ Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar


    Hillcrester
    Ramona
    California


    newlife202
    JOLIET
    Illinois


    Fred9774
    Brooklyn
    New York


    robert12
    Queens
    New York
Click here to join POZ Personals!
Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Poll
Do you work with your doc to design your own treatment regimen?
Yes
No

Survey
PrEP Course

more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2014 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.