“RARE CANCER SEEN IN 41 HOMOSEXUALS”
That was the headline way back on page A20 (at least take comfort that this would definitely be front page news today) of The New York Times thirty-three years ago today. It was the mainstream press debut of what was then a nameless, almost supernatural sounding disease that would become HIV/AIDS.
“Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer,” it read. “Eight of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made. The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion. But the doctors who have made the diagnoses, mostly in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area, are alerting other physicians who treat large numbers of homosexual men to the problem in an effort to help identify more cases and to reduce the delay in offering chemotherapy treatment.”
Read the article in its entirety here and imagine sitting down with your newspaper back in 1981 and having it be the first time — as it was for many — you had any inclination of what was coming…