1985 “AIDS: An Incredible Epidemic” by San Francisco General Hospital

1985 “AIDS: An Incredible Epidemic” by San Francisco General Hospital


VOLBERDING: Beginning in 1981, physicians,
including myself, who are working in — especially, in California and New York City — began to see
young people with an amazing new disease. How did we know it was new? The problems
that we saw, and the problems that we continue to see, were largely in gay men.
Especially, at first, gay men who are very sexually active. And what we saw were
diseases that we really had never seen before in that age group. A variety of infections,
a variety of cancers, and really almost immediately we knew that
there was a new disease in our midst. SANDE: We are in the middle of an incredible
epidemic. The epidemic is of AIDS: Acquired Immuno-Deficiency [Syndrome] disease.
This disease is currently increasing at the rate of approximately doubling every
nine months. NARRATOR: AIDS is a new disease. It is usually transmitted sexually. It probably
developed in Africa in the mid-1970s, then found its way to New York, to Los
Angeles, to San Francisco. Today there are more than 10,000 cases of AIDS in the
United States. Nearly 5,000 people have died from AIDS. Although homosexual males and intravenous drug abusers account for most of the cases of AIDS
in the United States so far, there is increasing concern
about the risk to the heterosexual population in Africa, where
the disease developed. An equal number of males and females have the virus.
The disease there is spread primarily through heterosexual sex. Will this become
the future pattern of AIDS in the United States? SANDE: I think it’s very important
that we understand exactly what AIDS is, and to do that, we have to
have a clear definition of the disease. Now the Center for Disease Control in
Atlanta, Georgia, in 1981 defined the disease as follows: a strange or unusual
malignancy, or a strange and unusual infection in a
patient that shouldn’t have one. Now, these include patients with Kaposi
sarcoma, with Pneumocystis pneumonia. Diseases that we’ve known about for
years, but this is the first time we’ve seen them in patient populations where
they are now occurring. We also know that the disease process itself will present
in other ways. When you make a diagnosis of AIDS in a patient, it essentially means
that he has a hundred percent mortality. So we never make this diagnosis lightly. NARRATOR: AIDS is caused by a virus, probably a new virus. A virus is a tiny particle that can be seen only with an electron microscope.
Each microorganism that invades the body has unique chemical markers on its surface.
The shape of that marker works like a lock. Each B cell carries a particular
key or antibody on its surface. When a B cell discovers an invader
with a lock that matches its key, it sets off an alarm to warn the troops.
T cells also join the assault; one type of T cell, the T helper cell, responds by
sending chemical signals to stimulate other B cells to multiply into a full-scale
army that hunts down similar invaders. When the infection is under
control, other T cells, known as T suppressor cells, send signals that call
off the troops. In a healthy individual, there are twice as many T helper cells as
T suppressor cells. In people with AIDS, this ratio is reversed. In advanced cases, there are
virtually no T helper cells left to turn on the immune system. Invading microbes take advantage
of this opportunity, and proliferate. These so-called opportunistic infections
are what actually kill the AIDS patient. SANDE: And that, really,
is what AIDS is all about Now, where does the virus live? It stands to reason that if it attacks these helper cells, it will live wherever those helper cells go. We now know it’s found in blood, we now know it’s found in semen,
and we also now know it’s found in saliva. It may be found in other secretions that
haven’t been tested yet. The vast majority of cases of AIDS in the United States
have occurred in gay or homosexual males. This accounts for approximately 73 percent of
all patients with AIDS in the United States. The next most common group are the intravenous drug abusers, and they account for around 17 percent. Hemophiliacs account for approximately 1%. Now both the
intravenous drug abusers and the hemophiliacs probably get the virus by
direct injection of contaminated substances into the bloodstream. We now
know that factor 8, which we have been giving our hemophiliacs for years to
stop their bleeding, did contain the virus. The process used
to develop the factor 8 didn’t kill the virus. We’ve had a few, although
surprisingly few, cases of AIDS in which the virus has been transmitted by
transfusion of blood or blood products. Now this should disappear with the new
test, which at the present time is being used to test essentially all units of blood
transfused into people in the United States. VOLBERDING: How do I know when, ah, when
either I, or one of my patients, or one of my friends, might be developing AIDS?
The answer is really much more difficult than a lot of people expect.
It’s difficult because we now know that a person after being exposed to the AIDS
virus may have any one of a number of different things happen as a result. NARRATOR: Some of the people infected with the AIDS virus may develop no symptoms at
all, even though the virus is attacking their immune systems. As the virus
continues to destroy helper T cells, the patient may then show signs of AIDS-
related conditions. When the immune system becomes severely damaged, the
patient may then develop what is diagnosed as AIDS, a fatal disease. VOLBERDING: When the immune
system breaks down, the person is susceptible to a wide range of
different infections and cancers and the symptoms are really those of those
specific infections or cancers. I would say that there are some general symptoms
that are shared by people with a variety of different forms of AIDS. Those are: a feeling of fatigue out of proportion to the amount of exertion that the person
may have just performed; fevers, usually high fevers over a hundred degrees, and
lasting for more than two weeks; night sweats, by which would mean really
drenching sweats at night — persons complaining of this often say they feel
as though they’ve just gotten out of the shower, the sweat is literally dripping
from them; or, weight loss, greater than 10 percent of the person’s healthy body
weight. If we see symptoms like that, especially if the person is in a risk
group for AIDS, and primarily that means homosexually-active men or intravenous
drug users, then we become concerned about the possibility of this disease.
I would stress that the symptoms of AIDS are often very confusing because they’re the
symptoms of any chronic infection, often they’re the symptoms of any chronic
malignancy, so it can be very difficult early in the stages of this
to be sure that it’s AIDS. Later on, what we often see are symptoms of the specific
infections that the person has, because pneumonia, Pneumocystis pneumonia
especially, is the most common infection seen with AIDS. The common symptoms seen with
those patients are usually those of a diffuse pneumonia: shortness of breath,
especially with minimal exertion; a severe cough and especially if the cough
isn’t productive of sputum; and the sense of chest tightness, or pain, are common
symptoms of Pneumocystis pneumonia. Generally they’re associated with fevers
or night sweats, so it’s, it’s common for a person to have all of these symptoms
simultaneously. Those would lead us to look very carefully at that person’s
chest x-ray, to obtain additional studies to prove or disprove the presence of
that parasitic infection. The other common disease that we’ve mentioned is
Kaposi sarcoma. Kaposi sarcoma is a tumor that appears on the skin majority of
people who have this malignancy. Kaposi’s appears as a raised lesion, something
you can actually feel with your fingertip, and in its early stages is
usually painless, it doesn’t itch, it’s usually pigmented it looks bluish to
purplish in color, and very importantly it doesn’t blanch when you press on it.
Again, if we see skin lesions that resemble that in a person that otherwise
in — is in a risk group for AIDS. We’d be very concerned about Kaposi
sarcoma. Kaposi’s is very easy to prove on a skin biopsy, and that can be done
with no discomfort whatsoever with local anesthesia and the diagnosis can be
established by most competent pathologists. The other symptoms of AIDS
are more unusual. AIDS can cause infections in the spinal fluid, or in the
brain itself, and we can see people with severe headaches, or with personality
changes, or in some cases seizure disorders. Other common infections seen
with AIDS include infections of the, of the retina, the,
the eye itself, with virus infections like cytomegalovirus, this can be a problem,
and the person can complain of visual loss, blurred vision, and that would lead
us to that specific diagnosis. NARRATOR: What happens after the diagnosis
of AIDS has been established? The course of the disease can run from months to
years, depending upon the specific forms of illness the immunodeficiency is causing.
Death can occur within a few weeks of diagnosis, but that’s not usual. People
with milder infections or with Kaposi sarcoma can often live for two, three, or
four years, possibly even more. So it’s very important to realize that medical
care for these patients may be long-term, and involve many areas of medicine. VOLBERDING: We’ve also appreciated
that because AIDS is such a serious disease, and causes
such social stigma, and usually terminates in the person’s death, that
the care has to address psychosocial issues as well.
The care has to address the fact that these are young people really at their
peak in terms of, in terms of their employment, in their careers in many
cases, losing their jobs, losing their insurance, and we have to provide the
medical social workers that we have to help them help the persons with AIDS
adjust to this change in their, in their living situation. A very difficult
problem, and probably if we’re successful in the clinic and taking care of AIDS
patients, it’s more in the psychosocial support that we’re able to provide than
in the medical care. So we feel very strongly that the care has to be
multidisciplinary from the medical perspective and from the psychosocial
perspective as well. NARRATOR: San Francisco has a number of organizations that provide special residences for AIDS patients, or allow for them to be cared for in their
own homes. San Francisco General Hospital has a specialized unit specifically for the
care and treatment of patients with AIDS. VOLBERDING: We started that unit about
a year and a half ago in, in 1983, and have found, contrary to some expectations
that this would become a leper colony, that people would be afraid to be there,
that staff wouldn’t want to work there, or that visitors wouldn’t want to visit
their friends on that ward, that the exact opposite has happened. In fact, the
AIDS unit has been a shining success and it’s been a success because we
appreciated the need for community involvement from the start, and the need
that this not be seen as an isolation ward, but rather as a special care unit. SANDE: Let’s think for a minute
about who does not get AIDS. Health care workers.
In our institution, we have had an intense exposure to this
disease for almost four years. Not a single one of our health care workers
has gotten AIDS, and not a single one of the health care workers that we have
studied has even developed an antibody to AIDS. Now that to me appears to be
very convincing evidence that even though we’re in an environment with a lot of
cases of AIDS, it just is not transmitted casually. VOLBERDING: That includes many
people who have been accidentally stuck with needles contaminated with blood
from AIDS patients. So even in that situation, the virus isn’t transmitted
and doesn’t set up an infection. So I think we can be extremely reassuring to
health care workers of all types, and to the general public, that this disease, as
we’ve been saying, is not one of casual contagion. It doesn’t spread that way. It
doesn’t spread by saliva on coffee cups or cigarettes. It doesn’t spread by
coughing, or by touching a person. It spreads by direct sexual contact and by
transfusion of large quantities of infected blood. Our current
recommendations for hospital staff are that people with AIDS, or people who
might be carrying the virus, be treated as any other patient.
That in all patients, we can easily recommend good hygienic practices: we can
always recommend washing hands after seeing the patient, after examining a
patient; we can always recommend wearing gloves when in contact with, with body
wastes — those are the kind of routine things that should always be done, anyway,
whether or not you suspected the AIDS virus. We know furthermore that the AIDS virus is actually very fragile. Although it
causes a terrible disease, the virus is easily damaged outside of
the body. The virus that causes AIDS has a lipid, a fatty coating, that’s disrupted
by most strong detergents so the act of washing your hands or washing a
tabletop isn’t just an act of futility. It actually probably is disrupting any
virus that might be present. So we think that the care of AIDS patients can be
done in the way that all other patient care is done, safely, with no real concern
to hospital workers. SANDE: What about vaccines? Yes, vaccines
are potentially a way to stop the epidemic. However, there’s a lot of problems
with vaccination against this form of virus, a virus that actually may
change its characteristics during the epidemic. There’s a lot of people at the
present time working on the potential solution with vaccines.
What about antiviral drugs? There are a number of compounds that are being
tested aggressively at the present time that have activity against the virus in
the test tube. So far we have not been impressed that any of these agents has
much of an impact on the disease. We will continue, and the medical community
will continue, to examine new agents, to develop new agents, to develop new
vaccines, but I think it’s important that everybody realize that there is no vaccine,
or there is no imminent cure, right around the corner. VOLBERDING: We think that the disease unfortunately is going to be with us for a long time.
It will get more common because the epidemic is still growing, but hopefully
we can apply what we’ve learned to begin to slow the epidemic.

100 thoughts on “1985 “AIDS: An Incredible Epidemic” by San Francisco General Hospital”

  1. lots of outdated information and falsehoods in this video. I am glad that much more haa been learned and proven since 1984. Jeesh

  2. AIDS is NOT a disease-according to doctors it is a syndrome- in other words an umbrella term term for already existing diseases that have been around for hundreds of years.

  3. I'm mad how they said it came from Africa and found it's way to the states. That's bullshit. It made it's way to the states because it was created in the states. All these "new" diseases and different strains of the same virus is made by our government.This shit just doesn't pop up out of nowhere. All this advanced technology and you think there are no cures for these diseases? Please, they just won't give it to the public because it will affect the monies of the healthcare industry. All about the money. Sad but true.

  4. AIDS DID originate in Africa! I Googled it!

    Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world. The earliest known case of infection with HIV-1 in a human was detected in a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (How he became infected is not known.)

  5. AIDS is and was engineered in this country…Please do not believe or listen to old and new propaganda, if you trust your government after every crime against humanity well please research and also research project Mocking Bird…It's the CIA infiltration of the media….Question everything…Also look into the CIA bringing drugs in dead soldiers from the Vietnam war and it's 2017 in Afghanistan American soldiers are guarding poppy fields to prevent the Taliban from burning them…Look, RESEARCH, QUESTION everything❤🙏

  6. AIDS wasn't developing Africa that's another lie that the government said. AIDS was manufactured by humans in a secret Laboratory. They took it to Africa to try to get rid of all the blacks. Like they did to the Native Americans taking blankets with diseases and giving it to them I don't trust a word government says.

  7. I worked as a nurse in New York in the '80s during the time the AIDS epidemic began. It was so saddening to see people coming into the hospital sick and eventually dying. Many of the patients I connected with as well, I have so many stories. R.I.P. to all those who lost their battle with AIDS.

  8. what slot of people don't understand is that a heterosexual person can get HIV just as easily and they do. yes it is more common among the gay community. but millions of heterosexual people in the US and around the world have HIV and are living with this. thankfully two recent advancements you can live a full life span if you stay on treatment.

  9. There will be a cure in our lifetime a vaccine is definite …a cure is likely. The reason the common cold …for those making the inaccurate comparison has not been Cured is because it's very complex there's numerous strains and you would have to cure every single strain that is constantly mutating. So you would have to have a multitude of cures not just one. And because the common cold is not life-threatening there's really no money and research being put into it. HIV is being worked on every day by top scientists and doctors and they are making advancements consistently. If you educate yourself you'll see that they just were able to cure the virus in mice this past year so now they have a solid promising pathway for a cure. However I will agree that it will be years . Probably 5 to 10 maybe 15 years. My best friend is HIV positive I used to be ignorant like you too. But he's actually doing really good he has no health issues he takes one pill a day and the virus comes up undetectable in his blood that's how good the the medication has advanced. He has no health issues and if you see him in public you would be like wow he looks really good you wouldn't be able to tell that he has any illness. They're already in human trials with an injection that people with HIV can take once a week instead of a pill every day. Both the pill in and injection completely suppress the virus…. It's still there in small amounts but it's not doing damage because the medication prevents it from replicating and causing damage.

  10. Nobody deserves to die from this horrifying disease. I don't care about your stance on homosexuality, drug use or whatever the hell, this monstrosity breaks down your system and your body becomes your prison. The pain sounds unbearable. God bless the all souls who lost their battle to AIDS. Protect yourself, love yourself.

  11. Bullshit !!..semen was designed by yahuwah to be deposited in a woman's vagina not another man's rectum…all of that different semen deposited over and over in the rectum caused aids…

  12. Unfortunately by the early 90s there ended up being probably a couple hundred healthcare, prison and police personnel who became infected thru contact with people with AIDS. By 'contact' I mean they were accidently stuck by syringes in the laboratory, accidently broke containers containing infected blood & were cut, or were attacked by HIV positive prisoners or during arrests etc… so it did infact occur, albeit in relatively small numbers… PEACE OUT

  13. Always Africa is to be blamed for all wrong things that is in the world. Scientists did their experiments in Kongo and other places in Africa where villagers Received "vaccine"( HIV) and eventually died of AIDS. They chose the poor and the weakest nation in the world to do their experiments!

  14. I remember the first article on this I lived in Montreal Canada I spoke to my good friend and suggested he be more careful He said that's in the U.S.A I am not worried He did get infected and died.The article was from the Time magazine 1980 or 81.

  15. I stumbled on this video tonight. Talk about a trip down memory lane. What a freaking nightmare! I do want to correct a few obsolete inaccuracies. Saliva (unless contaminated with fresh blood) is not a carrier of HIV. It is simply too acidic an agent. Also, the "very first" article re AIDS was NOT the Time Magazine cover story that caused such widespread horror and panic, but rather a tiny article on one of the inside pages of the Advocate published nearly TWO YEARS before the article in Time. The piece concerned a Fire Island "fisting club" all members of which had developed KS. I remember reading the little article (I think I was about 28 or 29) and thinking, "Fuck. I know what's coming down the pike." But in 1980-81 it was impossible to convince even physicians of what was in store for gay men. The Advocate piece–maybe four or five sentences, a small paragraph, really, told us everything we needed to know abut the primary cause of HIV transmission, if people would only have PAID ATTENTION. (And by people I don't mean gay guys–we were well aware from day one–but I mean our public health system and the Reagan White House.) Thank you, John, for finding and sharing this vital historical document. I hope you're still faring well. My very best.

  16. DO U REALLY BELIEVE THE AID EPIDEMIC IS OVER ?. BEST SIRPRESE NEWS WORLDWIDE.!!. TO AVOID A PANIC AT ANY COST.!!.CDC IS IN CONTROL.!!.👤👥👤💀☠💀😎.

  17. This disease still scares the hell out of me . Being dated this video erroniously states that AiDS was originating in the earlyb70s …the first verified case is the wasting death of an English Sailor who contracted it in Africa , true , but in 1958 …and there are records of wasting deaths in the mid thirties . It is suspected to havw been around but in remote areas for over a century .

  18. The first wave of HIV epidemic should have been quarantined to stop the spread.Now in 2018 is everywhere. Even though is not like a death sentence like before, I still wouldn't want to catch it.

  19. This bitch virus killed 30 millions people. And its all started in Africa then moved to the US and thanks to the US sexual lifestyles including the Hippies and Gay folks spread to the entire world.

  20. For those who don't understand what the AIDS epidemic did, some communities lost one in four of their members to AIDS. Those communities often had people in them who had made that community both their family and their friend group. If you have facebook, go to your friends list. Get a dice and roll it, or bring up an online dice in a new tab. Also bring up a word doc. Roll the dice. Count (from left to right down the lines) the number of friends equal to the number on the dice. Write down the name – this person has just died from AIDS in your simulated plague. Repeat again and again. Believe me, you'll be emotionally impacted, even if it's just a game.

  21. I was a teenager in the early 80s and it was a big scare then. We were afraid to touch anything as we were not sure how it spread. Recall Freddie Mercury stories in the news and also abt Rock Hudson. We also thought mosquitoes may carry this virus. In future I'm afraid we may find another virus that can do different set of damages.

  22. Why does the beginning when the music is playing gives me some type of feeling i can almost feel the hopelessness and despair of the times I’m like binging on these old aids 80s videos …..

  23. AIDS is NOT in saliva!!!!! That was a spurious myth, dispelled decades ago!! (e.g.: you're NOT going to catch AIDS if an HIV + person spits on you!! That is just plain bigoted hysteria, though it would be great if something would come along & kill off all the fucking worthless bigots!!!)

  24. I had pcp pneumonia when I was undetectable and a cd4 count of 547!?! All my Dr's were very confused! Spent 2 months in hospital. Half my right lung was liquefied and I had 8 transfusions if my cd4 count was lower Id've surely died!

  25. Estos documentales son históricos, muestran como percibían la enfermedad, por favor, alguien que los subtitule al español.

  26. 14:40. “That includes people who have been struck by needles containing the disease. So even in that situation, the disease was not transmitable”- that is a dangerous thing to say even to this day. More so back then because it is simply not true.

  27. For everyone on the poor gay man bandwagon…watch the documentary called The Gift and then and then let me hear your opinion. It is unbelievably sickening. And for all these men that were supposedly afraid of getting aids, they sure didn’t stop with their promiscuous lifestyles. But it’s the government fault…right?!

  28. This was just horrible. I was working as a Medical Technologist at the time the AIDS epidemic started. We were stumped, just totally perplexed. The disease seemed to be prevalent in the Homosexual population, however; many caught it from previous blood transfusions and/or from the tattoo's (less likely) We took on the fight to discover what this disease was as our favorite artists, dancers, entertainers, actors and glorious Rock Stars like Freddie Mercury. Heartbreaking. That's about all I remember feeling, heartbreak and devastation. It was taking so long for us to get answers. Answers meant treatment. Of course, we in the medical community, had to put our emotions aside while we worked for days, weeks, months to get answers. People were mistreating good quality, wonderful people. Firing them left and right. It was so discriminatory and I can say that we've learned a lot since this time. Thank God for that. However, meanwhile people were suffering in their professional and personal lives. Any gay man was fair game, ostracized. Like I wrote, it was awful and so very sad. One of the most tragic periods of our time.😢

  29. People say it occurred in mid 70’s & came to USA in late to early 80’s. When they say HIV can lay dormant for 10+ years. So these people got infected & with 6months had full blown Aids. I believe it made its way into USA from 1965. With the odd death in early to mid 70’s. Each case was seen as exception. But when a larger group of homosexual men spread the virus because of sexual promiscuity it meant by the early 80’s they started to fall in larger numbers. All the homosexual men suffered greatly because of promiscuous behaviour it was not a Gay disease.

  30. Lee Vicent was absolutely right it was a government disease they started in San Francisco supposedly injectioning the gay men with an experiemental hepatitis b vaccine but was actually the aids virus Alan cantwell the doctors of death awesome book

  31. Saliva (unless contaminated with fresh blood) is not a carrier of HIV. It is simply too acidic an agent, so this should be noted.

  32. I feel so bad for everyone who has suffered from this virus! Nobody deserves to die from this deadly disease! Nobody who is a good person anyways!

  33. the doctor is saying that it cannot be transmitted via accidental prick with contaminated needle ..strange thing to say even in 1985

  34. I remember when the CDC told people who were gay that they are getting infected with something that wasn't known at the time. Then they told the gay community to get tested and stop banging every guy you meet without a condom. The gay community responded by saying they were trying to kill them and they were trying to take away their rights.i don't know about you but if the CDC came to my town and said hey half of your town is dead because of a disease that we don't know what it is we do know if you have sex with a bunch of women you can get it. If you do get it you are going to be dead soon. I would keep my dick in my pants plane and simple. I think that is a reasonable suggestion till someone can figure out what is going on.

  35. All the new medications can provide a good life for HIV positive people. So that's good news. Also in many cases, the virus after the correct therapies becomes undetectable so that patient cannot spread it. But how about cancer? Do we know what we eat? For example, did you know that they put chemicals in plants we eat, so that can grow very quick? Have you also heard about the dioxins in meat? I mean we are screwed! Either way, we are going to die from some kind of cancer :(. It's so horrifying.

  36. KS is transmitted through saliva and sexual contact. it is also incurable. AIDS doesnt cause it. the HHV-8 herpes virus causes it. there is also a link between popper usage and KS but even this could just be simple contact with infected saliva. the popper itself being a literal vehicle for the infection. its scary to think a simple kiss could infect you with these lesions

  37. I worked as a nurse on Ward 5A, SFGH Aids unit in 1990..it was very heartbreaking seeing an entire generation of beautiful, creative people being wiped out.It was incredible being part of cutting-edge Aids care and seeing the progress that have been made with new treatments and since then..Aids is no longer considered a fatal disease but rather a chronic manageable one.Having that support from not only the community but from our fellow co-workers helped us to be able to do our jobs.Ward 5A was a safe and supportive place where people of all walks of life came and were treated with dignity and grace they deserved and I am very proud to have been a part of that.This video was made when Aids was fairly new and not a lot was known..thankfully we know a lot more about it today..

  38. Does anyone remember when AIDS was called GRID back then?

    G.R.I.D. Means gay related immune deficiency
    The name just gets me mad

  39. Do they know how this disease went from relative obscurity and very few carriers in Africa back in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s to the sudden explosion in NYC and SF in the early ‘80’s?

  40. It’s such a tragic part of history, these people had got so ill from there life style & then poisoned even more by there doctors who didn’t have an idea of what they were doing , the story of the epidemic of HIV causing AIDS is now been proved to be completely flawed in so so many ways , the biggest mistake in scientific history & still being denied sadly , history will judge .

  41. Wow, that's a really high quality informative video for 1985. Especially considering Reagan was still joking about the epidemic or outright pretending it doesn't exist at that time…

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