Thirty years ago this year, two Los Angeles physicians noticed a cluster of men who were suffering from a rare form of pneumonia. The physicians documented their findings in a report published by the CDC on June 5, 1981. That report became known as the first time AIDS, then nameless, was documented. Though there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, and public interest has waned since, the disease had an impact on politics, the arts, and literature. In 1994, Pedro Zamora (pictured above), was the first HIV-positive cast member of MTV’s Real World series. He allowed cameras to follow him as he struggled to keep up his T-cell count while trying new medications. He died at age 22. Though people are living longer now, it is a difficult life path. From my story (Daily News, June 5, 2011):
West Hollywood- Paul Bedard survived the worst of the epidemic – when almost every man he knew fell victim to a mysterious illness and death haunted his community.
But nearly 30 years after he was diagnosed with HIV, Bedard hesitates to say he has outlived the disease that claimed so many gay men of his generation.
The 42 pills he swallows by the handful each day keep him alive, but the side effects – both physical and mental – have nearly killed him, he said.
“I’m going to be 60 years old this year and I’ve lived half my life with AIDS,” said Bedard, a West Hollywood painter who was once commissioned by Michael Jackson to paint the pop star’s portrait.
“Sometimes I think, ‘This is no way to live,”‘ he said. “It’s been a challenge.”
Despite years of illness, Bedard’s survival symbolizes how far researchers have come in the battle against HIV and AIDS.
Today marks 30 years since the first AIDS cases were reported in the United States, contained in an article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about five Los Angeles men who inexplicably were suffering from a rare form of pneumonia.
That cluster of five cases provided physicians and researchers with the first clue that they were dealing with a previously unknown disease, said Dr. Michael Gottlieb, a UCLA immunologist who, with the late Dr. Joel Weisman of Sherman Oaks, first identified AIDS.