HIV/AIDS, the Government, and Minorities in the United States, 1981-2001
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The first known cases of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the United States occurred in 1981. Young Caucasian males. in the United States were dying of a rare form of cancer usually found only in older Jewish men of Mediterranean descent. Something was attacking and destroying the immune system to such an extent that it was possible for young men to contract this cancer. In 1984, three years after the first reports of the new disease, researchers discovered the virus that caused the disease and named it the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-l). By 1998, some 270,000 Americans had lost their lives to AIDS. Starting in the late 1980s, however, progression of the disease through the population shifted and changed. What was once primarily a disease of young, white, gay males, became a heterosexual disease that is decreasing among Caucasians but exploding among minority populations. This explosion occurred (and continues to do so) in spite of huge federal, state, and local educational campaigns and massive amounts of money and programming that targeted these population groups.