Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

HIV at 40: Dr. Anthony Fauci on the early days of another pandemic
by Andrew Davis
2021-06-10

This article shared 1317 times since Thu Jun 10, 2021
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Dr. Anthony Fauci has been called "America's doctor"—and with good reason. His face and advice regarding COVID have seemingly been omnipresent since the virus affected the masses early in 2020.

However, decades before the word "coronavirus" became known to the public, the current director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)/chief medical advisor to the president was on the forefront in the scientific battle against another emerging pandemic: HIV/AIDS. (In fact, it was because of HIV/AIDS that Fauci has advised every president since Ronald Reagan, who was chief executive when this disease devastated so many in the 1980s.)

Windy City Times talked with Fauci about the early days of the HIV/AIDS pandemic—but the conversation started with a question about his current condition.

Windy City Times: After seemingly being the face of COVID medical advice for the past year, how are you physically and mentally?

Dr. Anthony Fauci: You know, it's been interesting, Andrew. It's been a surrealistic year. I have not had a day off in 15 months, and it's almost like you're in a zone. You know how basketball players make all those shots and they say you're in a zone—like with Michael Jordan?

WCT: Yeah. They also called it being "unconscious."

Fauci: Exactly. That's the way it is now with me. The work we're doing is so important and there's so much suffering that you don't think about anything else than doing something about it. You don't dwell on the fact that you're tired or need sleep—you just do it.

When this is over—and that will happen at some point—we're going to look back and ask, "How the hell did we do that?"

WCT: Regarding HIV, take me back to when you first heard about AIDS, in 1981.

Fauci: It's totally embedded in my mind because I've thought about it and lived it over and over again.

I was sitting in my office at the NIH [National Institutes of Health] clinical center, where my laboratory was at the time. It was the first week of June in 1981, and I saw the MMWR [The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report], which described this extraordinary and interesting report of fine young men—and, curiously, all gay men—who were previously well but developed this condition called pneumocystis pneumonia.

Now, at the time, I had been at the NIH for nine years and I had been board-certified in infectious diseases, clinical immunology and internal medicine. I was the infection-diseases consultant, with several of my colleagues, at the clinic. We used to see cancer patients who were immunosuppressed with chemotherapy, and several of them would get pneumocystis, so right away I knew that [those with AIDS] had to be severely immunosuppressed. I thought that it had to be a fluke or maybe some drug they were taking, like poppers.

One month later, in the first week of July, what I believe was the transforming event in my career happened—when I got the second MMWR. That one described 26 young men who were all gay. They weren't just from Los Angeles; they were also from San Francisco and New York [City], and they presented pneumocystis as well as other opportunistic infections. That's when I got goosebumps because I realized this was a new disease and it was sexually transmitted. Then I thought about it for a while: I'm an immunologist, and this is an infectious disease without a name or etiology—because it's 1981—but if what I think is going to happen actually happens, it's going to explode not just in the gay community, but throughout the world.

I decided to change the direction of my career later that summer, and I was on a pretty steep pathway toward a very successful career in immunology and infectious diseases. I remember that my mentors asked, "What are you doing? You're throwing away this incredibly promising career. Why are you studying this disease that's a fluke? It's going to go away." And I said, "It's not going to go away." I even wrote a paper at the end of 1981 (and it was published in 1982). I said, "Anyone who thinks this disease is automatically going to disappear doesn't really know what they're talking about." Unfortunately, that was one of the most prophetic things I've ever [stated].

Then, as the years went by, things got worse and worse—and my career got enveloped in studying this strange disease. In 1984, when the position of NIAID director became available—a job I still have, 37 years later—I realized the impact I could have because I could put a major emphasis on AIDS.

WCT: But you, and President Reagan, did get some blowback from the LGBTQ community.

Fauci: Oh, yeah—and it was pretty clear why. I was one of the few people who was out there and very visible, talking about increasing support. I would go into the community and was on TV and the radio. So I became the face of the federal government. So activists said, "We're not part of the dialogue. We want our concerns addressed."

Nobody in the scientific community was paying attention to them. So in order to get attention—in what I thought was a smart move—[the activists] became very confrontational and provocative, and made me a target because I was a federal person. Larry Kramer called me a murderer and an incompetent idiot—and they certainly got my attention.

What I did was get past the theatrics and confrontations, and start to listen to what they said. And once I started to listen, it made perfect sense. I'm talking with you on the phone and I'm almost at the conference room where I first invited them in, in the late '80s. They went gradually from totally attacking me to developing a cordial relationship to having a collaboration. Now, 37 years later, some of those activists are my best friends. [Laughs] It's been an interesting evolution.

WCT: Did you think the world would be marking the 40th anniversary of HIV/AIDS with no cure or vaccine?

Fauci: I erred in my estimation in two ways.

I thought we'd have a vaccine much sooner. But I never thought we'd have such spectacular therapies, where you could treat somebody with a single pill for the rest of their lives. Not only can levels be brought so low that they're undetectable and people can live lives that are practically normal, but it can be practically impossible for them to transmit the virus to someone else.

So I underestimated how well we would do with therapy, but I overestimated the situation with the vaccine because, at that time, we didn't realize the virus has this spectacular ability to integrate itself into the genome of the cell. Once it does that, you can't get rid of it. When the body doesn't want to make a good response against HIV, it's hard to make a vaccine against it. So, it's been very interesting.


This article shared 1317 times since Thu Jun 10, 2021
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

COVID Chicago's Dec. 7 travel advisory adds two states and D.C.
2021-12-07
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) added two states—North Carolina and Tennessee—and the District of Columbia to its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory on Dec. 7, as daily COVID case rates across much of the country ...


Gay News

Omicron COVID variant in almost one-third of states
2021-12-06
Health officials said the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has spread to about one-third of U.S. states—but the Delta version is involved in the majority of COVID-19 infections as cases rise nationwide, Reuters reported. Though the ...


Gay News

Canada's House of Commons unanimously votes to ban conversion therapy
2021-12-02
Canada's House of Commons voted unanimously to ban so-called LGBT conversion therapy, the BBC reported. The legislation would make it illegal to have a child undergo the practice or have anyone unwillingly undergo it. Conversion therapy—which ...


Gay News

AIDS Garden Chicago supporters, CDPH official commemorate World AIDS Day with event
2021-12-01
AIDS Garden Chicago supporters and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) commemorated the 34th annual World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 at the Belmont Yacht Club with a sneak preview of the garden. The 2.5-acre ...


Gay News

Director Paris Barclay talks about virtual reading of 'The Normal Heart'
2021-12-01
The seminal Larry Kramer play The Normal Heart—which focuses on the rise of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City in the early 1980s, through the perspective of the character Ned Weeks—is the subject of a ...


Gay News

Lambda Legal to Justice Kavanaugh: Not in our name
2021-12-01
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — This morning, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a case that has the potential to directly or effectively overturn landmark precedent protecting the right ...


Gay News

CDC: Tougher restrictions set in response to new COVID variant
2021-12-01
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the United States is moving to require that all air travelers entering the country show a negative COVID-19 test performed within one day of departure in ...


Gay News

COVID Two states and territory come off Chicago's travel advisory
2021-11-30
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) removed two states and Guam from its weekly COVID-19 Travel Advisory on Nov. 30. No new states were added to the advisory, which now stands at 38 states. California, ...


Gay News

HRC encourages LGBTQ+ people to sign up for health insurance plans
2021-11-29
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is encouraging LGBTQ+ people to sign up for health insurance as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid's Services (CMS) kicks off its LGBTQ+ Theme Week (Nov. 28 - ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: World AIDS Day, 'Benedetta,' books, wine in a can
2021-11-26
—World AIDS Day event at Belmont Harbor: —The Chicago Parks Foundation will hold a World AIDS Day event on Dec. 1, 9-10:30 a.m., at the Belmont Harbor Yacht Club. Antonio King, LGBTQ health and outreach liaison ...


Gay News

World AIDS Day events on tap
2021-11-26
World AIDS Day takes place every year on Dec. 1. During this year—which marks the 40th anniversary since HIV was officially discovered—here are some of the events taking place (locally, regionally and nationally) on, before and ...


Gay News

New COVID variant discovered in South Africa
2021-11-26
Global authorities reacted with alarm to a new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa, with the European Union and Britain among those tightening border controls as scientists tried to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant, ...


Gay News

BIPOC LGBTQ+-led orgs and spaces adapt to continued effects of COVID-19
2021-11-25
s the world continues to grapple with the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, some BIPOC LGBTQ+-led bars and community-building organizations have adapted by implementing increased safety protocols and strengthening ...


Gay News

COVID Chicago's travel advisory back up to 40 states and one territory
2021-11-24
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) added two states to its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory on Nov. 23. The advisory stands at 40 states and one territory. Connecticut, whose daily COVID Case rate per 100,000 ...


Gay News

AFC commemorates passing of the HIV decriminalization law with World AIDS Day event Dec. 1
2021-11-24
--From a press release - The World AIDS Day Community Celebration of the Historic Passage of HB1063, which ended criminal penalties against people living with HIV, will be hosted by AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC). It will also commemorate World AIDS Day ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.