The AIDS Epidemic

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AIDS Epidemic Patient Zero was first diagnosed with Kaposi's sarcoma, a form of skin cancer common to AIDS victims, in June 1980 (The Appalling Saga of Patient Zero). The first recognition of AIDS came in 1981 with an outbreak in homosexual men in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Patients were suffering a breakdown in the body's natural defenses that often leads to fatal forms of cancer and lethal bouts of infections. Patient Zero had traveled extensively around the world getting sexual partners in every country he went to. When he was diagnosed, he was warned that he would be putting partners at risk if continuing to have sexual activity, but he still continued in the same pattern, which spread the disease directly and indirectly until he died in 1984. June 5, 1981 became known as the date of the official onset of HIV/AIDS epidemic when a Doctor released the stories of Patient Zero and four other cases to the Centers for Disease Control (Gottlieb, 2006). Doctors around the United States start recognizing AIDS cases. There were a total of 164 cases reported between 1979 and 1983, with 60% of those cases being reported in 1983 alone. The highest risk groups were homosexual men at 71%, drug users at 17%, Haitians at 5%, and hemophiliacs at less than 1%. Europe reported the same groups at risk. An early theory linked the problem to amyl nitrate, a substance widely used by homosexuals to enhance sexual pleasure. Other occurrences of AIDS in other groups have

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