Timeline of the AIDS Epidemic in NYC 1981–1990

Each act of Angels in America — Part One: Millennium Approaches is also included in the timeline to provide a historical context.

Major arcs of timeline focus on governmental ineptitude, the impacts of AIDS on minority communities, and reverberations the general NYC area.


June 5, 1981: The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports first cases of rare pneumonia in young gay men.

July 3, 1981: The New York Times publishes its first article on AIDS

Terminology of 1982: U.S. Center for Disease Control establishes the term Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) - referring to the four “identified risk factors:” male homosexuality, intravenous drug abuse, Haitian origin, and hemophilia A. “GRID” or “gay-related immune deficiency” increasingly used by media.

January, 1982: Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first community-based AIDS service provider in the U.S., established in New York City. It was created in order to combat a “rare form of cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma” in gay men.

March 4, 1983: The U.S. Public Health Service recommends abstinence from sex and heightened precautions around blood transfusions with infected patients to avoid infection through sexual contact and blood transfusion.

Silence of President Ronald Reagan: “By Feb. 1, 1983 1,025 AIDS cases were reported. Reagan said nothing. In 1984, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced 4,177 reported cases in America and 1,807 deaths. In San Francisco, the health department reported more than 500 cases. Again, Reagan said nothing ” (SFGate — Reagan’s AIDS Legacy).

October 10, 1984: San Francisco closes all bathhouses sparking major public controversy elsewhere in Los Angeles, New York and other cities.

September 17, 1985: President Ronald Reagan mentions AIDS publicly for the first time.

January 20, 1985: President Ronald Reagan inaugurated for the second time. Continuance of ineffectual response to the AIDS epidemic is perpetuated.

October-November 1985 | Angels in America — Act One: Bad News

Scene 1: “Last days of October” | Scene 2: “Same day” | Scene 3: “Later that day” | Scene 4: “Same day”| Scene 5: “Same day, latter on” | Scene 6: “First week of November” | Scene 7: “A week later” | Scene 8: “That night” | Scene 9: “Third week in November”

December 1985-January 1986 | Angels in America — Act Two: In Vitro

Scene 1: “Third week in December” | Scene 2: “Same night” | Scene 3: “The next morning” | Scene 4: “An hour later”| Scene 5: “Three days later” | Scene 6: “The second week of January” | Scene 7: “That afternoon” | Scene 8: “Late that night” | Scene 9: “The following morning” | Scene 10: “The same day”

January 1986 | Angels in America — Act Three: Not-Yet-Conscious, Forward Dawning

Scene 1: “Three days after the end of Act II” | Scene 2: “The next day” | Scene 3: “The same day” | Scene 4: “The same day”| Scene 5: “The same day” | Scene 6: “Late that night” | Scene 7: No date/time given but early evening is assumed

1986: A special Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on “AIDS Among Blacks and Hispanics,” finds that African Americans account for 51% of all AIDS cases among women and have an overall AIDS rate three times higher than whites.

March 19, 1987: First antiretroviral (ARV) drug — zidovudine or AZT — approved by U.S. FDA.

1987: U.S. CDC holds its first National Conference on HIV and communities of color.

March, 1987: AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) established in New York in response to proposed cost of AZT; the price of AZT is subsequently lowered.

1989: AIDS activists stage several major protests about AIDS drugs during the year, including at the Golden Gate Bridge, the New York Stock Exchange, and U.S. headquarters of Burroughs Wellcome.

May 1991 — World premiere of Millennium Approaches produced by The Eureka Theatre Company.


Sources:

CDC 30 Years of HIV in Hispanic/Latino Communities: A Timeline https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/timeline-30years-hiv-latino-community-508.pdf

CDC 30 Years of HIV in African American Communities: A Timeline https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/timeline-30years-hiv-african-american-community-508.pdf

Global Health Policy: HIV/AIDS Timeline https://www.kff.org/global-health-policy/timeline/global-hivaids-timeline/

SFGate — Reagan’s AIDS Legacy / Silence equals death http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/Reagan-s-AIDS-Legacy-Silence-equals-death-2751030.php

The Social Impact Of AIDS In The United States — Chapter 9: The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in New York City https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234564/

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