Fight against AIDS celebrates anniversary

August 13, 2008 9:49:25 PM PDT
It was a turning point in the fight against AIDS 10 years ago today, when the front page of a gay newspaper in San Francisco had only two words which announced to the world that AIDS is not always fatal.

In the 80s and 90s, there were concerts and marches to bring attention to the toll AIDS was taking when the deadly epidemic was at its height.

"For so long, people were dying. I mean, people have no idea today how bad it really was," says gay activist and journalist Allen White.

The Bay Area Reporter, a weekly gay community newspaper, sometimes ran 30 obituaries in one issue. But 10 years ago on August 13, the paper's front page stunned the community.

It said "No Obits."

"It was really a milestone of sorts and is still something people talk about," says editor Cynthia Laird.

Current editor Cynthia Laird was a staffer back then. She says the paper was shocked when it received no obituary notices in the mail on their Friday deadline. Just to be sure, they waited until Monday for another mail drop.

The editor, Mike Salinas, wrote in this historic issue "like fans who sat quietly until the no-hitter was clinched with the last pitch, we exploded in joy at the happy culmination -- for a while at least."

"It was a turning point. It was a point where people could say life is really going to be different," says White.

"The protease inhibitors had come out in 1996 or 1995, so people were starting to get on that medication regimen," says Laird.

Protease inhibitors were powerful drugs that could prevent HIV from turning into AIDS.

Today, 10 years later according to the Centers for Disease Control, new HIV infections in the U.S. are once again on the rise. The city's annual HIV/AIDS report released last month does show a significant decline in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases from 2003 to 2007.

But San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Mark Cloutier warns of increased risky behavior.

"The rate of syphilis has gone up in San Francisco. It often goes up, but it went up particularly high this year. So, that's an indicator that risky behavior is increasing."

However, 10 years ago the front page gave people with HIV and AIDS hope that they did not have to die and that still has not changed.


Load Comments