HIV/AIDS is a topic which people discuss so that it can be prevented. We know enough about this disease due to the help of organizations that try to inform teens and the general public on how to protect themselves. However, this was not the case when the epidemic started to spread like wild fire; nobody knew how to prevent or deal with it. A city that is an expert on this would be New York City. The year 1981 marked the beginning of a deadly epidemic. From 1981 to 1985, the first five years of the crisis, New York suffered greatly because many people were being infected with HIV/AIDS and were dying. A diverse city like New York where there are different ethnicities demonstrates why this epidemic was a serious case around the world. From the beginning of these epidemic crises many worried because nobody knew if the disease was contagious by touching someone who had AIDS, and no one knew how to protect themselves. All we knew was that this disease was very common among gay men so they were the main target of hate from society. Many New Yorkers blamed the gay community for the disease and as a result homophobia increased. Gay men were targeted often because many people were uncomfortable with the idea of same sex affection and how open the gay community was about it. So when the epidemic became uncontrollable media headlines would target gay males making it hard for them to find jobs or a place to live. In addition as more people got infected by HIV/AIDS many started rumors that it was easily spread by using public bathrooms, eating in a restaurant, riding the subway, and swimming in public places. This demonstrates how many were in fearful of getting infected with a disease that even today we still don’t have a cure for it. The advertisements and organizations in the exhibition which informed people and young adults how the disease can be stopped and can’t be spread by touching someone’s hand that has AIDS demonstrates that the public was slowly being informed about the spread of HIV/AIDS. This exhibition was really fascinating because although this information is from 1981 it is still important because it’s part of history. This information tells us how people reacted toward HIV/ AIDS during this time period where the disease was unknown and no one had a clue on how to prevent it. Also this topic in particular is interesting because today we know a lot of information, but we don’t have the cure for the disease despite of advances in the medical and technological field.
By Marilyn Garcia