I remember the first time I came into contact with AIDS. It was the summer of 1983 and for most of the year people had been talking about the "Gay Cancer" that had been showing up in ever increasing numbers in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles over the previous two years. We had been calling it GRID - Gay Related Immune Disease - until sometime in 1982/83 when it was determined that it was not simply a gay disease and the name was changed to AIDS.
That summer of 1983, I was at a dinner party in Park Slope, Brooklyn one night with a guy I was dating and one of the hosts was obviously sick. At that point in time the way the disease worked was you got sick and then you died. Usually very quickly after the onset of symptoms and in as awful and painful a fashion as could be imagined.
At the dinner party the hosts illness was the elephant in the room that nobody was talking openly about but I do recall at one point while we were all having cocktails before sitting down I overheard two of the other guests, queeny boyfriends whispering between them and wondering whether it would be bad form to ask that their food be served on paper plates with plastic cutlery. At that point in time that was pretty much the level of ignorance of not just the public at large but also of the medical community that was tasked with treating those with the disease...
Bill In Exile: Still Here