The epidemic of the immunodeficiency disease AIDS, which began in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1930s as a mutation of the chimpanzee disease SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus), which was named Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) found its way to the shores of the United States as early as 1960. But on a practical level, it was first noticed after doctors discovered clusters of Kaposi’s sarcoma and pneumocystis pneumonia in young gay men in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco in 1981. This strain was called HIV-1. A second strain, called HIV-2 was also discovered. HIV-2 is presumed to have mutated from SIVsmm, a strain of the Simian virus present naturally in the sooty mangabey, a monkey found primarily along the African coast from Senegal to Ghana. HIV-2 is common in West Africa but is much rarer in the United States than HIV-1, which is more virulent and progresses more quickly to the full-blown AIDS disease.
That being said, I first heard of AIDS in about 1982. It terrified me and my circle of friends. There were articles published in the gay press on how AIDS was spread, and discussion groups at our gay center, and elsewhere, to educate gay men. Within a few short years, more and more critical information became known. Having AIDS was truly known as a death sentence. Mainstream society was afraid of all gay men since the early stages showed no symptoms. Even doctors and many hospitals were afraid to treat suspected HIV patients.
Of the two following sections tells, the first tells of the creation and purpose of hospice houses that were created in the gay community, by gay men, to take care of PAWs (persons with AIDS) since the mainstream medical system, to a large degree, refused to provide professional medical service to these sick people. tell of true events at both a major hospital in Long Beach and another section
The second sections tell of events at St. Mary’s Hospital in Long Beach which, indeed, welcomed all who contracted this disease and maintain a caring staff to treat these people.