HIV/AIDS in the United States

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The history of HIV/AIDS in the United States began in about 1969, when HIV likely entered the United States through a single infected immigrant from Haiti.[2] In the early 1980s, doctors in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco began seeing young men with Kaposi's Sarcoma, a cancer usually associated with elderly men of Mediterranean ethnicity.

As the knowledge that men who had sex with men were dying of an otherwise rare cancer began to spread throughout the medical communities, the syndrome began to be called by the colloquialism "gay cancer." As medical scientists discovered that the syndrome included other manifestations, such as pneumocystis pneumonia, (PCP), a rare form of fungal pneumonia, its name was changed to "GRID," or Gay Related Immune Deficiency.[3] This had an effect of boosting homophobia and adding stigma to homosexuality in the general public, particularly since it seemed that unprotected anal sex was the prevalent way of spreading the disease.

Within the medical community, it quickly became apparent that the disease was not specific to men who have sex with men (as blood transfusion patients, intravenous drug users, heterosexual and bisexual women, and newborn babies became added to the list of afflicted), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) renamed the syndrome AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in 1982.

Hemophiliacs, who require injections of blood clotting factor as a course of treatment, during the late 1970s and 1980s also contracted HIV in large numbers worldwide through the spread of contaminated blood products. It is estimated that nearly 1 million individuals are currently infected with HIV in the country, and the number appears to be increasing each year.

In the United States, about one third of HIV/AIDS cases newly diagnosed in 2007 resulted from heterosexual encounters, the most rapidly growing transmission category. Male to male sexual contact accounted for about half of new cases, and intravenous drug use contributed about a fifth of cases.[4] Despite the availability of syringe access programs, many individuals continue to share and use dirty or infected needles in most American cities.[5]

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