In 1981 there was talk of a ‘gay disease’ in New York first called GRID (gay related immune deficiency) and then, jokingly (ha ha) ‘the 4 H club consisting of homosexuals, heroin users, Haitians and hemophiliacs.  When it was discovered that nongay people were also coming down with the symptoms it was called AIDS–ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME. AIDS is a disease of the immune system caused by infection with the retrovirus HIV, even though it took years for the medical field to agree on this, which destroys  white blood cells and is transmitted through blood or bodily secretions such as semen. Patients often die from secondary causes such as pneumonia or Kaposi’s sarcoma. The president of the United States didn’t say a word about it until almost 6 years later, after 20, 850 Americans died from it, including a friend of his, actor RockHudson. The mayor of New York, who was, and still is, thought of being in the closet turned his back on it until gay activists gave him no choice and he had to address the issue. I’m not going to give a lesson in AIDS but strongly suggest you read/and or see the play “The Normal Heart” . There is also a strong play called “As Is” and a book  “And The Band Played On”, both made into movies and are on DVD.

We started hearing about AIDS in Fort Lauderdale from New York tourists and I started getting calls and letters about deaths, memorial get togethers, friends in hospitals but it didn’t hit home until it affected ‘my’ Mikes.  Ice skater Mike was the first to die in the Fort Lauderdale area but it was Teacher Mike who I saw through the whole sickness from the day he was diagnosed to the day he died in a hospice. There would be a lot more deaths in the coming years.

In 1985 there was a famous hotel–The Marlin Beach Hotel– that catered to the gay crowd and was famous for the movie “Where The Boys Are” being filmed there. They  also donated office space for the first Gay Men’s Health organization. There also a ‘buddy’ group that I joined in 1985 that helped teenagers with AIDS. It wasn’t very long after 1981 that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area became #3 on the list of most HIV+ and/or AIDS cases. For those who may not know there is a difference between the two. There was very little research being done and there was one drug available—AZT–that was very expensive and, in my opinion, was toxic enough to kill people, including teacher Mike.

You can’t talk about AIDS without giving a nod to the women, mostly Lesbians, who volunteered and were at the forefront of helping people with AIDS. This was a time when medical personal wouldn’t touch patients without wearing a glove and a mask, when funeral parlors wouldn’t handle/bury people with AIDS, when people didn’t understand the illness or what was meant by safer sex–and many still don’t–but the women were there to help feed, clothe, give people with AIDS a place to stay.

It has been 31 years since that NY Times report but here are some facts that were published in 2007 and though more and more people are surviving the illness the figures  now are much higher.



Most people in the USA act as if the crisis is over and the ‘cocktail’ is a cure–NO WAY!! Here are some facts gathered from POZ magazine:

Last year there were 40,000 new infections in the USA.

We have pledged a larger sum of money to battle AIDS beyond our borders while we cut services here to help people with HIV.

50% of the 1.1 million of have no health insurance, Medicad is being cut as is housing budgets.

Our government will not allow money to any AIDS program that talks about condoms (or safer sex) yet 34% of those who sign ‘virginity’ pledges have sex before marriage. 33% American students get exclusively abstinence only sex education.

World wide 25 million have died and 41 million currently infected yet the USA is up in arms  ABOUT THE WEST NILE FLU, they were more up in arms about Legionnaire’s disease because it was considered a non-gay problem. IN 2003 SARS rocked our world; it had killed 1,200.

Annual AIDS related deaths in the USA–16,000.

Many Americans believe the myth that those with HIV/AIDS in America are okay.

States that segregate HIV positive prisoners–1.

Tuberculosis and malaria, our second and third largest epidemics can be cured–AIDS can’t.

In 2004 teen girls in America accounted for 50% of all new infections among all Americans ages 13-19 and women for 37% of those ages 20-24.

We are withdrawing support in America for treatment, drugs, care, housing and food from HIV infected Americans, increasing their infectiousness and throwing them out on the streets.

HIV is no longer confined to ‘high risk’ groups as more and more reports are showing such as the above report on females..


In the 1980s and 1990s I crossed out many names in my phone book but people are still dying today in spite of the ‘cocktail’ that has helped so many.
We need sex education IN schools because parents are NOT doing their job at home though they say they are. I know because I have seen too many teenagers sick and/or have died from AIDS.
Get tested. Unless you have been with your mate 24/7 since the first day they had sex with you get tested. Yes, the one you swear would never, has never cheated on you could give you the disease as many spouses, mates, partners–whatever term you use–have cheated and it only takes one time. Unless you have been with them 24/7 make them wear a condom and don’t listen to. “It doesn’t feel as good” or “Don’t be silly. I wouldn’t cheat on you!”
This has been a little longer than my usual post–the last one left me and Bill calling it quits and I’ll get back to what happened in the aftermath and learning you don’t ‘die from a broken heart.’

Posted September 26, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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