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Three Decades of HIV/AIDS, Part Two

Ignorance, Fear and Hysteria (1985-1990) and Activism (1990-1995)

By Bob Frascino, M.D.

June 30, 2011

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This is Part Two of a three-part blog entry; read Part One and Part Three of the series.

On October 2, 1985, a bombshell dropped on Hollywood. Rock Hudson died of AIDS.

Rock Hudson.

Now the deadly disease had a face.

Rock Hudson: Newsweek cover.

Rock Hudson revealed he had AIDS and died less than three months later. The fear of this yet-to-be-understood killer suddenly could be seen and felt everywhere. A Life Magazine cover story raised awareness in the heterosexual community for the first time.

Life Magazine.

The title "Now No One Is Safe From AIDS" is fascinating, as it implied to the straight community that it was somehow safe prior to Rock Hudson's death.

The increased awareness of HIV/AIDS quickly led to irrational fear.

Time Magazine cover: The Big Chill, How Heterosexuals Are Coping With AIDS.

By 1985 there were 15,948 cases of AIDS and 8,161 AIDS deaths. Ryan White, a youngster who contracted HIV from a tainted blood product used to treat hemophilia, was barred from attending public school.

AIDS Victim Barred by School.

Ryan White.

AIDS hysteria flared dramatically across the country.

Schools, health officials face wave of AIDS hysteria.

AIDS hysteria cartoon.

In pop culture Hollywood's Screen Actors Guild announced that open-mouth kissing was "a possible health hazard" and the general population quickly internalized this unwarranted fear.


It's interesting to note that to this day the "can I contract HIV/AIDS from kissing" question continues to be a QTND (question that never dies) in the Safe Sex and HIV Prevention expert forum on this Web site.

Rocker Sebastian Bach wore a shirt in concert asserting that "AIDS Kills Fags Dead."

Sebastian Bach (without the offensive t-shirt).
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See Also
Three Decades of HIV/AIDS: Are You Ready to Dance?
Three Decades of HIV/AIDS, Part Three
20 Years of Magic: How One Man's HIV Disclosure Inspired Others
More on the 30th Anniversary of AIDS

Reader Comments:

Comment by: michael (los angeles) Thu., Aug. 11, 2011 at 4:37 am UTC
three decades of hiv/AIDS and we get a blog with a collection of pics......are we plateauing on our friends list request on facebook or something? very little difference in attitude in today's society. for every person educated about the disease, a dozen more are born who will be taught otherwise. it's nice, doc, that you come home to someone who understands. sadly, that is a tiny, tiny spec in this world. even in terms of scientific advancement, it seems that the new btripla is more of a slight step backwards than forward. after years after the introduction of atripla, they come up with btripla that is slightly subpar to atripla and if btripla fails, it pretty much ruins the effectiveness of many pill options.....3 decades...and the cost to be on treatment is still beyond reach to most people......sad....
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Comment by: Brad J. (Atlanta) Tue., Aug. 9, 2011 at 10:12 pm UTC
Dr. Frascino,


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Comment by: David K. (Oklahoma) Fri., Aug. 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm UTC
Currently the United States is not doing enough to screen individuals for HIV/Aids. I was diagnosed with HIV/ Aids and cryptococis in 2009 by the VA hospital in OKC. Between 2003-2009 I visited the VA hospitals numerous times showing signs of my immune system failing and not once had any of the VA Doctors followed the standard of care of asking about risk factors of HIV nor did they ask whether I wanted to have an HIV test until finally when I had Cryptococis Menengitus I was tested. Recently I've heard that everyone who goes to the VA are asked whether they do want to be tested. Who knows how long that will be enforced. While filing my claim with the VA, I was disrespected by the VA Regional Attorney and the attorney had also interfered with my claim of course nearly 10 months later my claim was denied. Im not through with my claim, District Court Bound! The Government needs to be held responsible for those who they failed to test and catch the virus early so no harm will come to them. I urge others who have been not diagnosed early to file claims as well.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Brad (Atlanta) Tue., Aug. 9, 2011 at 10:14 pm UTC
The VA ID Clinic in Atlanta is FANTASTIC! FYI!

Comment by: Lance (Los Angeles) Sat., Jul. 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm UTC
Thanks so much for your blogs. I am neg. and head over heals in love with my "Pos.charged" and look forward to every one of them. PS...I think it is time to grow that "Stash" back mister.
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Comment by: Michael D. (UK) Mon., Jul. 4, 2011 at 9:52 pm UTC
Thanks for this. It shows how far we have come. Seeing that picture of Ryan White in his hospital bed brought a tear.
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Life, Love, Sex, HIV and Other Unscheduled Events

Bob Frascino, M.D., was President and Founder of The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation. He had been an outspoken, popular expert in's "Ask the Experts" forums on safe sex and fatigue/anemia since 2000. Once a Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Frascino served as Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Immunology, Rheumatology, and Allergy, at Stanford University Medical Center from 1983 until 2001. He was a member of the American Academy of HIV Medicine and had also been a distinguished member of the executive boards of numerous state and regional associations.

We're inexpressibly saddened to share the news that Dr. Frascino passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011. Click here to read more and to share your thoughts.

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