Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lest We Forget: The Shameful History of Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party in Their Refusal to Acknowledge and Deal With Aids

It's World Pride 2014 week, which, this year will be hosted by my neighbour city, Toronto.

Therefore, I thought it would be a good time to remind ourselves of the shameful behaviour of all of us, with respect to AIDS, led by President Ronald Reagan and his immoral majority.

On January 20, 1981, Ronal Reagan became the 40th president of the United States.

 On June 5, 1981, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report describing cases of a rare lung infection in five young, previously healthy gay men in Los Angeles. A month later, on July 3, 1981, the New York Times reported similar symptoms in 41 gay men in New York and California. By the end of 1981, a total of 270 reported cases of severe immune deficiency among gay men, and 121 of those individuals had died.

By the end of 1981, has the Reagan Administration said ONE WORD about this burgeoning epidemic. NO.

No official word was heard from Washington until April 13, 1982 when U.S. Representative Henry Waxmen (D- California), convened the first congressional hearing on HIV/AIDS, which, by this time, it was estimated that tens of thousands of people might be affected by the disease. The results of these hearing were the allocation of $10 million for AIDS research (as it became known), and $5 million to CDC for surveillance.

By December of that year, the CDC was reporting cases of AIDS in infants who had received blood transfusions.

By the end of 1982, has the Reagan Administration said ONE WORD about this burgeoning epidemic. NO.

Meanwhile, things deteriorate in 1983 to the point where on December 6, 1983, a congressional subcommittee releases The Federal Response to AIDS, a report criticizing the U.S. Government for failure to invest sufficient funding in AIDS surveillance and research. As at the end of 1983, there were 2,807 reported cases of AIDS in the U.S., and 2,118 deaths.

By the end of 1983, has the Reagan Administration said ONE WORD about this burgeoning epidemic. NO.

1984 continued to be a difficult year for the gay community, however, one bright light was on April 23, 1984, when Dr. Robert Gallo and his colleagues reported that they had found the cause of AIDS.

By the end of 1984, has the Reagan Administration said ONE WORD about this burgeoning epidemic. NO.

In 1985, the U.S. Congress allocated $70 million for AIDS research. By the end of that year, at least one HIV case had been reported in every region of the world.

By the end of 1985, has the Reagan Administration said ONE WORD about this burgeoning epidemic. NO.

On September 17, 1986, President Ronald Reagan mentions AIDS publicly for the first time, vowing in a letter to Congress to make ADS a priority. That's five years and 28,712 cases resulting in 24,559 deaths already recorded in the U.S. alone.

On August 18, 1987 the FDA sanctions the first testing of a candidate vaccine against HIV. By the end of 1987, there were 50,378 cases of AIDS reported with 40,849 deaths.

The year 1988 concluded with the FDA allowing the importation of unapproved drugs for persons with life-threatening illnesses, including HIV/AIDS and after numerous protests, introducing new regulations to speed up drug approval.

1989 showed little progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS with the end of year statistics reaching 117,508 reported cases, and 89,343 deaths.

GOODBYE President Reagan, and SHAME ON YOU.

On  November 7, 1991, Earvin "Magic" Johnson announced that he was HIV positive.

By 1992, AIDS became the number one cause of death for U.S. men ages 25 to 44.

By 1996, with worldwide education in place, new AIDS cases in the U.S. declines for the first time since the beginning of the epidemic.

By 2011, a landmark research study shows that putting healthy people living with HIV on antiretrovirals can limit their transmission of the virus by 1996.

Also, by 2011, more that 1.1. million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., and more than 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS around the world.

Here is a graph of the growth of the disease from 1981 until 1999.

Now, just imagine if President Reagan had put the might of the U.S. behind AIDS research when the epidemic first showed its ugly head in 1981 instead of ignoring it for 5 years. That would mean that it would be 5 years earlier that solutions started to kick in, and, in those 5 years, let's say, 1995-1999, that's 3,157,575 fewer HIV cases contracted in the U.S., and 1,913,190 deaths. That's more U.S. casualties then the total number of U.S. soldiers who died in all the wars fought in the 20th century.



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