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Suddeutsche Zeitung Magazin: 'We were all scared,' The 40-year history of the HIV- told by contemporary witnesses

June 10, 2021 | Gabriela Herpell and Lars Reichardt

Translated from German to English by Google Translate:

At first, AIDS was called "gay cancer," then heterosexuals became infected as well. You didn't know if kissing was contagious? More and more people died, no medication helped, and there was still no vaccination.

On June 5, 1981, a Californian scientist reported in the weekly newspaper of the US health authorities about unusual fungal infections and pneumonia in otherwise healthy, young men. Apparently their immune systems had collapsed. July 3rd in the New York Times an article appears about similar illnesses in New York. The sick are also men, promiscuous homosexuals. 1982 it turns out that the disease also occurs in drug addicts and hemophiliacs. The search for the cause begins - and a global anxiety.

ROBERT GALLO, Director of the Tumor Virology Laboratory the National Health Institutes in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Our hunt for the cause of strictly speaking, AIDS only started in spring 1982. In 1983 we isolated the new retrovirus, which was later called HIV and at that time called HTLV-3. In October 1983 came the breakthrough: we succeeded in showing that this virus actually is the cause of that illness. Still it was a happy moment because we could now have enough virus to develop a blood test and to test drugs against the virus.

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