Forty years ago, an unnamed illness began to disproportionately impact members of the LGBTQ+ community, specifically gay and bisexual men.
The disease, which later became known as AIDS, caused by a virus dubbed HIV, devastated our community, becoming the leading cause of death for men between 25 and 44 in 1992. During the 1980s and early 1990s, those diagnosed were largely ignored by the medical and political establishments and were often shunned by family, employers, and health care providers. Despite the lack of support from our government, our organizations rose to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters who desperately needed support.
Before there was a name for HIV or government money to research it, Gay Men’s Health Crisis became the first to mobilize a community and provide treatment, care, and prevention education. From the beginning, GMHC knew HIV was not just a medical issue but that it had psychological and social implications as well. At the height of the epidemic, GMHC served one in four New Yorkers living with HIV. This year, 40 years after the first confirmed case of the disease in the United States, it continues the fight as one of the leading organizations dedicated to end the epidemic in our lifetime — but the journey wasn’t easy.
Take a look at how one agency continues to address HIV/AIDs and learn how you can get involved.