Initial AIDS Discovery
AIDS was first reported in 1981, but the Reagan administration remained largely silent. Misinformation spread, as the disease initially labeled 'GRID' seemed to only affect gay men, leading to public stigma.
Despite rising deaths, President Reagan's first public mention of AIDS wasn't until 1985. The lack of early leadership and funding hampered awareness, research, and treatment development efforts.
Public Health Crisis
By 1983, over 1,000 AIDS cases were reported, with high mortality rates. The CDC struggled with inadequate funding, while the epidemic continued to grow, affecting diverse populations.
Surgeon General's Efforts
Surgeon General C. Everett Koop became a leading informational source on AIDS by 1986, breaking the administration's silence and advocating for sex education and condom use, against initial resistance.
Activism and Advocacy
Grassroots organizations like ACT UP formed in 1987, protesting government neglect and accelerating drug approval processes. Their activism was pivotal in changing public perception and policy.
Delayed Funding Increase
It wasn't until 1988 that significant funding was allocated to AIDS research and treatment, years after the epidemic's onset. This delay had a lasting impact on the crisis's trajectory.
Reagan's non-action influenced international responses, delaying global initiatives. The World Health Organization didn't declare December 1st as World AIDS Day until 1988, reflecting wider mobilization delays.