UK: BBC R4 8pm Sat 12 Feb: how AIDS came to be recognised in the UK

Sasha

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This sounds interesting, given where we're at with XMRV and CFS:

On 5 June 1981 the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in Atlanta published the mysterious deaths of 5 young gay men in LA from a rare pneumonia. A link was made with similar deaths from a rare cancer in New York. This was the start of an epidemic: AIDS. Simon Garfield, who has written about the epidemic since the 1980s, unravels the earliest clues and follows the trail from America to the UK and the largest ever peace-time public health education campaign.

AIDS was first reported in the UK in December 1981, but the government response was slow. The gay community - still enjoying the freedoms won with the de-criminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 - looked after its own. The Terence Higgins Trust was formed after one of the earliest AIDS deaths in 1982, and Gay Switchboard promulgated 'safer sex'. In 1984 a test for the newly-discovered virus, HIV, became available.

By December 1984 two heterosexuals had died of AIDS in the UK - both haemophiliacs who had been given contaminated blood products. With the spread to intravenous drug users, it became obvious that the UK was following the same pattern as the US, where cases were doubling every 6-8 months. Something had to be done.

Secretary of State for Health, Norman Fowler, launched an information campaign in November 1986. TV adverts featured tombstones and icebergs, and leaflets dropped though 23 million letterboxes.

Thirty years after the start of AIDS, Simon Garfield reviews the early years, hearing from Norman, now Lord, Fowler, Lisa Power of THT, Professor Anthony Pinching - an immunologist who was an early expert on AIDS, and Jonathan Grimshaw - diagnosed with HIV in 1984 and founder of Body Positive.

Producer: Marya Burgess.
Details on the BBC site here. I'm sorry I don't know whether this can be heard online outside the UK after it has been broadcast.