Tag Archives: White House

A History of HIV & AIDS – 1994

As we prepare to enter our 25th year, we are reflecting on the global HIV events from the last three decades.  HIV has swept across the globe touching communities on every continent.  Here’s an introduction to some of the key moments in the early global history of HIV.  Catch up on the story using the ‘Recent Posts’ link to the right.

We focus on 1994 today, when The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) released 13 hard hitting AIDS advertisements which was a significant move from their more subdue approach. The prevention method was the use of condoms, which were rarely seen or even mentioned on television.

“One of the television ads, entitled Automatic, features a condom making its way from the top drawer of a dresser across the room and into bed with a couple about to make love. The voice-over says, ‘it would be nice if latex condoms were automatics. But since they’re not – using them should be. Simply because a latex condom, used consistently and correctly, will prevent the spread of HIV.’ (Library Reference)

In February, Secretary Shalala announced the eighteen members of the National Task Force on AIDS Drug Development, which includes experts in AIDS drug development issues from academia, industry, medicine, the HIV/AIDS-affected communities, and Government.  The Chairman of the Task Force is the Assistant Secretary for Health. The FDA (Food & Drug Administration in America) provides administrative and managerial support for the Task Force.

In March, the actor Tom Hanks won an Oscar for playing a gay man with AIDS in the film Philadelphia.

Philadelphia was was the first big-budget Hollywood film to tackle the medical, political, and social issues of AIDS.  Tom Hanks plays Andrew Beckett, a talented lawyer at a stodgy Philadelphia law firm. Andrew had contracted AIDS but fears informing his firm.  The firm’s senior partner, Charles Wheeler (Jason Robards), assigns Andrew a case involving their most important client. Andrew begins diligently working on the case, but soon the lesions associated with AIDS are visible on his face.

I won’t tell you more in case you’ve not seen it yet, (spoilers are never nice)! Suffice to say it’s all about prejudice and discrimination in legal setting in the early 90’s.  It’s nice to see that laws have since changed but today, 18 years on we still have a long, long way to go in order to stop the ignorance and stigma left behind!

On March 29, The FDA asked condom manufacturers to begin using the air-burst test on all brands of latex condoms. This new test measures a condom’s strength, and may be an indirect indicator of its resistance to breakage during use.

By July 1994 the number of AIDS cases reported to the WHO was 985,119. The WHO estimated that the total number of AIDS cases globally had risen by 60% in the past year from an estimated 2.5 million in July 1993 to 4 million in July 1994.

It was estimated that worldwide there were three men infected for every two women, and that by the year 2000 the number of new infections among women would be equal to that among men.

At the end of July, it was announced that the WHO’s Global programme on AIDS would be replaced. The UN Economic and Social Council approved the establishment of a new “joint and cosponsored UN programme on HIV/AIDS”.  The separate AIDS programmes of the UNDP, World Bank, UN Population Fund, UNICEF and UNESCO would have headquarters with the WHO in Geneva.  Later in the year it was announced that Dr. Peter Piot, the head of the research and intervention programme within the Global Programme on AIDS, would be the head of the new UN program.

Official statistics for Brazil, with a population of about 154 million, indicated that some 46,000 cases of AIDS had been recorded, but estimates put the actual number at anywhere between 450,000 and 3 million cases. Two thirds of the known cases were in Sao Paulo state where AIDS was the leading cause of death of women aged 20-35.

In early August 1994, the Tenth International Conference on AIDS was held in Yokohama, Japan. It was the first of the International Conferences to be held in Asia.  No major breakthroughs emerged, and it was announced that in future the international conference would be held every two years.

An exciting study, ACTG 076, showed that AZT reduced by two thirds the risk of HIV transmission from infected mothers to their babies.  It was the most stunning and important result in clinical acquired immunodeficiency syndrome research to date because it was the first indication that mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be at least decreased, if not prevented. And it will provide a real impetus for identifying more HIV-infected women during pregnancies so that they could consider the benefit of AZT treatment for themselves and their children.”

Meanwhile in the Russian Federation, deputies in the Russian Parliament, the Duma, voted at the end of October to adopt a law making HIV tests compulsory for all foreign residents, tourists, businessmen and even members of official delegations.

India by this time had around 1.6 million people living with HIV, up by 60% since 1993 (identical to the global figure). Local and state governments were accused of underusing and misusing HIV prevention funds.

In December, President Clinton asked Joycelyn Elders to resign from the post of US Surgeon General, following a remark during a World AIDS Day conference that children could be taught about masturbation.  She was asked whether it would be appropriate to promote masturbation as a means of preventing young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity, and she replied, “I think that it is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught.”

This remark caused great controversy and resulted in Elders losing the support of the White House. White House chief of staff Leon Panetta remarked, “There have been too many areas where the President does not agree with her views. This is just one too many.”

Elders was fired by President Clinton as a result of the controversy in December 1994.

Perhaps this unfolds unhappy memories if you experienced this discrimination first hand but to our younger audience who may not have lived during these times, it’s important to understand that prejudice, stigma and discrimination remained significant obstacles for sex education, HIV prevention and AIDS awareness throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium.

In closing today, someone recently told me that Tim Radford (A freelance Journalist) wrote a special report “the progress being made in the fight against the cleverest and most malevolent virus scientists have ever seen”.  The report also examines issues of stigma, discrimination, and the effect HIV/AIDS has on families. – I’m afraid I can’t link to it, but if anyone has a copy, please get in touch!

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A History of HIV & AIDS – 1991

As we prepare to enter our 25th year, we are reflecting on the global HIV events from the last three decades.  HIV has swept across the globe touching communities on every continent.  Here’s an introduction to some of the key moments in the early global history of HIV.  Catch up on the story using the ‘Recent Posts’ link to the right.

A decade after the first cases of Aids are reported in the US (1991), an estimated 10 million people are infected with HIV worldwide.

The Red Ribbon has become the international symbol of AIDS awareness and support, not only for those living with HIV, but for their families, friends and people who are fighting for equality and non-discrimination.

The Red Ribbon Project was created by the New York-based Visual AIDS Artists Caucus in 1991, the individuals on the project wished to remain anonymous but wished instead to credit the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus as a whole in the creation of the Red Ribbon Project.  They also wanted to ensure the image was copyright free, so that no individual or organization would profit from the use of the red ribbon as it’s ethos is for it to be used as a consciousness raising symbol, not as a commercial or trademark tool.

The artists who formed the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus wished to create a visual symbol to demonstrate compassion for people living with AIDS and their careers.  Inspired by the yellow ribbons honouring American soldiers serving in the Gulf war, the colour red was chosen for its, “connection to blood and the idea of passion — not only anger, but love, like a valentine.”

First worn publicly by Jeremy Irons at the 1991 Tony Awards the ribbon soon became renowned as an international symbol of AIDS awareness, becoming a politically correct fashion accessory on the lapels of celebrities.

Read: Why A Red Ribbon Means AIDS (BBC)

At the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert held at Wembley Stadium, London on Easter Sunday 1992, more than 100,000 red ribbons were distributed among the audience, with performers such as George Michael wearing one.  The Red Ribbon continues to be a powerful force in the fight to increase public awareness of HIV/AIDS and in the lobbying efforts to increase funding for AIDS services and research and LASS encourage you to wear yours every day!

To symbolize the United States’ commitment to combat the world AIDS epidemic, President George W. Bush’s administration began displaying a 28-foot AIDS Ribbon on the White House’s iconic North Portico on World AIDS Day 2007.  The display, now an annual tradition, quickly garnered attention, as it was the first banner, sign or symbol to prominently hang from the White House since Abraham Lincoln lived in the building.

HIV storyline in EastEnders

The largest peak in requests for HIV testing in the UK was observed in January 1991 when the character Mark Fowler, (of EastEnders), was diagnosed with HIV.  Mark was an original regular character in the BBC series starting February 1985.   Contracting HIV forced him to grow up fast and accept his responsibilities. He frequently found it difficult to accept the restrictions of the illness, which finally claimed his life in April 2004.

Mark initially kept his secret hidden from everyone.  However, as he and his friend, diane grow closer, he finally decides to tell her the truth about his HIV status in January 1991. He believes that he had come into contact with the virus through his girlfriend.  Eventually, Mark’s relationship with Diane never becomes serious, not for her at least.  She is a useful confidante however, and manages to persuade Mark to go for counselling at the Terrence Higgins Trust. (A real service you can access today, click this link for more information)!  Mark initially turns on his male counsellor, relaying all his bitterness at being a potential “AIDS victim”, but eventually feels the benefits of discussing his status.

During the summer, a study was published showing that HIV was transmitted much more easily through breast milk than had previously been thought but despite admitting that the news was discouraging , The World Health Organisation also said that women in developing countries should continue to breastfeed, as the threat to infant health from contaminated water was even greater than the threat from AIDS.

Freddie Mercury

Although the media was full of speculations about the state of Freddie Mercury’s health for a long time, he admitted to having the disease on 23rd November 1991.  Within 24 hours after this announcement, he had fallen into a coma and passed away.  He died of pneumonia in consequence of his HIV infection. He did not live to see the Olympic Games in 1992, which he composed the official anthem ‘Barcelona’ with opera singer Montserrat Caballé.

As one of the highest-profile victims of AIDS, Freddie Mercury’s death drew greater media awareness of the virus and started the fight to remove the stigma, discrimination and prejudice from a disease which could affect anyone.  A fight which, unfortunately continues today in 2012.

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson, then an American professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers publicly announces that he is HIV-positive.

After a physical before the 1991–92 NBA season, Johnson discovered that he had tested positive for HIV.  In a press conference held in November, 1991 he made a public announcement that he would retire immediately and stated that his wife Cookie and their unborn child did not have HIV, and that he would dedicate his life to “battle this deadly disease”. – Magic continues to advocate HIV awareness today.

By the end of 1991, around 450,000 AIDS cases had been reported but it was estimated that 10 million individuals had been infected with HIV.

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Help Make Homophobia & Transphobia History!

The issue of whether marriages between same-sex couples should be recognised or not has been a a key issue in the White House recently and history was made yesterday when American President Barack Obama declared his unequivocal support for same-sex marriage, taking a bold political gamble on an issue that divides American voters just months before a presidential election.

This has been prompted by an election on Tuesday in the key swing sate of North Carolina, in which voters overwhelmingly backed a move to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage and civil unions.

(Read more about Obama’s stance on gay marriage here)

The issue of Gay rights is not limited to America, it’s global and there is still lots of work to do in this country, and indeed our city.

Next Thursday (17th May) is International Day Against HOmophoba  & Transphobia (IDAHO Day) and the Leicester LGBT Centre (website) is opening it’s doors between 2pm and 6pm to promote awareness of the effect homophobia and transphobia have on our communities and society as a whole.  This will include stalls and information from StopHateUK, Safer Leicester Partnership, Leicestershire County Council, Stamp It Out, and many more.

More information is available from the Leicester LGBT Centre website we hope you’re able to attend and help make homophobia and transphobia history!

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